Anaheim Ducks: Early Goal-Scoring Struggles

Anaheim Ducks are off to an epic early struggle to begin 2015-16 going 1-5-1 with six goals for and 19 goals against in seven games.  They’ve been defensively sound, while getting quality goaltending from their starter, as their backup struggles.  With only six goals for in seven games, Anaheim Ducks problem is evidently goal-scoring.

To attempt to figure out what’s causing the lack of goal scoring, you need to delve through both team and individual stats to identify alarming differences from 2014-15 season.  Looking at basic stats from the exterior doesn’t paint much of a picture other than the obvious problem.  One needs to question whether any of the below statistics are numbers that can level out, or whether they’re new trends that could be problematic as the season progresses.

* all stats were obtained from NHL.com/stats

Anaheim Ducks Team Stats:

Games Played – 7
Goals For – 6/0.86 (30th)
Goals Against – 19/2.71 (18th)
Power Play – 5.3 percent (30th)
Penalty Kill – 90.9 percent (t-1st)
Shots For – 27.6  (23rd)
Shots Allowed – 31.0 (18th)
Face-Off Win Percentage – 50.7 (12th)

On the surface, we can see Anaheim’s penalty kill has been a point of strength thus far.  Ranking 12th with 50.7 face-off win percentage ranks in the upper half of the league, but still sits lower from their 2014-15 total.  Sitting in the bottom half of the league with shots for and against is unfamiliar territory compared to last season.

Digging Deeper to Rooted Issues

Anaheim Ducks When Losing After Two Periods

2014-15:  12 wins  23 losses
2015-16:    0 wins    5 losses

Anaheim vs. Opponent – 1st Goal Scored

2014-15:  Ducks scored 1st 47 times, Opponent scored 1st 35 times  (ANA scored 1st 57.32 percent of the time)
2015-16:  Ducks has scored 1st two times, Opponent has scored 1st five times (ANA is scoring 1st 28.57 percent of the time)

Anaheim Ducks Power-Play

0/12 on PP at home
2014-15: ANA had majority of PP’s in 1st period
2015-16: ANA seeing majority of PP’s in 3rd, least most in 1st period

Ducks Shot-Attempts (SAT) and Average Shot Length (ASL)

Anaheim Ranks 14th in NHL with 335 SAT, although we know they rank 23rd in shots for.  Based on the above stats, we know shots are struggling to make it on goal whether it be missed or blocked shots.

2014-15: 34.7986 feet ASL
2015-16: 35.9119 feet ASL

Oct 22, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Anaheim Ducks players leave the ice after a loss against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Anaheim Ducks average shot length in the new season are being taken nearly 1.1133 feet further back from 2014-15.  Last season, Hampus Lindholm took 107 shots from an average length of 48.4299 feet, compared to 2015-16 Lindholm has 13 shots taken from an average length of 65.1538 feet (-16.7239 avg feet further back)

Team Face-Offs (Defensive Zone and FOW when trailing)

Defensive Zone
2014-15: 51.4 win percentage
2015-16: 45.9 win percentage

When Trailing/Playing From Behind
2014-15: 827 fow – 749 fol  (52.47 win percentage)
2015-16: 74 fow – 88 fol  (45.68 win percentage)

Anaheim Ducks Individual Player Stats

Total Time on Ice/per game (TOI)

D Hampus Lindholm
2014-15:  21:45  2015-16:  23:30  (+1:45)

D Sami Vatanen
2014-15:  21:27  2015-16: 19:07  (-2:20)

F Ryan Getzlaf
2014-15:  20:05  2015-16:  19:04  (-1:01)

F Ryan Kesler
2014-15:  19:30  2015-16:  18:15  (-1:15)

F Jakob Silfverberg
2014-15: 15:39  2015-16:  17:39  (+2:00)

F Rickard Rakell
2014-15:  12:34  2015-16:  15:35  (+3:01)

F Patrick Maroon
2014-15:  14:16  2015-16:  11:41  (-2:25)

Oct 24, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau during a time out during the third period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild win 3-0 over the Ducks. Mandatory Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Plus-Minus Rating

Cam Fowler  (-8)
Andrew Cogliano (-6)
Kevin Bieksa (-5)
Jakob Silfverberg (-5)
Rickard Rakell (-5)

Special Teams Time on Ice (PP/SH TOI)

Hampus Lindholm – Power Play TOI/g
2014-15:  1:37  2015-16:  2:23  (+0:46)

Spike in PP time despite fact that Anaheim Ducks are getting less PP time per game to begin 2015-16.

Shorthanded TOI/g

Ryan Getzlaf
2014-15:  1:42  2015-16:  0:27  (-1:15)

Jakob Silfverberg
2014-15: 1:45  2015-16: 2:31 (+0:46)

Simon Despres
2014-15:  1:26  2015-16:  2:06 (+0:40)


Tied for 1st with the best penalty kill to begin 2015-16, the spikes and losses in the above ice-time are well justified.  From the above, we can tell Ryan Getzlaf’s loss of 1:01 in average ice-time can be contributed to the drop in killing penalties.  Therefore, Anaheim Ducks goal-scoring issues are not attributed to a lack or drop of ice-time for Getzlaf.  0:45 seconds of the additional 2 minutes Jakob Silfverberg is seeing is justified with the penalty kill, but is he being offensively effective with the extra 1:15 of even strength ice-time?

Unblocked Shot Attempts For – (subtract) Unblocked Shot Attempts Against/60  (USAT/60)

For those unfamiliar, USAT/60 is an enhanced stat that calculates how many unblocked shot attempts a player’s team takes in comparison to how many unblocked shot attempts they allow when a particular player is on the ice.

Ryan Getzlaf
2014-15:  4.96  2015-16:  0.45

The above tells us that Anaheim Ducks top-line is spending much less time in the offensive zone, and too much in the defensive zone.  This could help explain why they’re in the bottom half for shots for and against.

Face-Off Win Percentages

Rickard Rakell
2015-16:  27 fow  43 fol  (38.6 win percentage)

Ryan Kesler – PP FOW percentage
2014-15: 58.2 win percentage  2015-16:  42.9 win percentage

The Anaheim Ducks are ranked 12th overall in general face-off wins, but as we can see above, Rickard Rakell is struggling in the face-off circle while seeing an additional 3:01 in ice-time this season.  Being ranked 12th is largely in part of Ryan Kesler being one of the elite face-off men, usually in the 59 percent win range.  Although, Kesler is severely struggling in the face-off circle on the power play, which coincidentally is their biggest struggle, which ultimately roots back to struggles with goal scoring.

Analysis

Unfortunately the stats can only paint part of the picture to explain what’s going on in Anaheim.  The other half of the picture paints itself when you watch them play.  Overall, the team has been pretty solid defensively and have gotten solid goaltending from Frederik Andersen, while their backup Anton Khudobin has struggled thus far.

October 16, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell (67) moves in for a shot on goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There’s one glaring obvious take-away from the above statistics.  Anaheim Ducks are struggling in crucial game situations.  SAT tells us they’re struggling to get the puck to hit the net, while taking shots over a foot further away on average.  Anaheim is losing crucial face-offs when behind in a game or in the defensive zone operating in the 45% range for both.  Worst of all, they’re elite face-off man who wins nearly 60% of face-offs on average is running at around 45% during power plays.

This a team known for out-shooting its opponents in 2014-15, only to fall short in not only team stats but individual stats as well.  Anaheim Ducks top line was operating at nearly +4.96 USAT/60 only to drop to +0.45 USAT/60 so far this season.  Kevin Bieksa is a quality defender, but at -5 to begin the season, and minimal offense to offer from the back-end, it may be time to give Sami Vatanen his 2014-15 minutes back at the loss of Bieksa.  Anaheim is built around offensive defenseman, and Bieksa adds a slightly different element that seems to be effecting the team’s ability to score.

When the majority of problems can be pointed at one thing, like it has with the goal-scoring in Anaheim, the good news is that its something that should eventually right itself as the Ducks find the back of the net.  But if the issues persist, at what point does Anaheim go into panic mode to insert more goal-scoring?  With 3-point games and an 82-game season, teams can be out of the playoff race within the first couple months.

Do you call up John Gibson and hope for a quality tandem of goaltending, in hopes that you can steal a few low-scoring games.  Or do you address the issue itself? Largely due to a lack of top line winger to play alongside Perry and Getzlaf.  In that case, do you explore the trade options for one of John Gibson or Frederik Andersen?  A few more losses without any wins could result in this team needing to win at over a 75 percent rate for the rest of 2015-16 to even have a chance at making the playoffs.