Ducks' biggest problem isn't injuries, it's one that they have created

Ducks' biggest problem isn't injuries, it's one that they have created
Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm checks Devils center Nico Hischier to the ice on Dec. 18. Lindholm was penalized for holding on the play. (Bill Kostroun / Associated Press)

Somehow, someway, the Ducks need to find a solution.

They're racking up penalty minutes at an alarming rate, a problem that's plagued them since the start of the season.


Sunday's 6-2 rout at the hands of the San Jose Sharks was just the latest illustration of the team's penchant for penalties, with five minors leading to two power-play goals for the Pacific Division rivals.

Luckily for the Ducks, their penalty kill has been downright pesky, but the unit is beginning to display some cracks. The club has allowed five power-play goals in the past four games. The penalty kill struggled over the past week, with two goals allowed in four tries Wednesday vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins before the lousy performance vs. the Sharks.

Of course, the Penguins boast the top power-play unit in the NHL, and the Sharks aren't far behind at No. 5. The Ducks are ranked No. 9 in penalty-kill percentage.

"You can't give the opposition's power play five chances to practice against you," coach Randy Carlyle explained.

Yet the Ducks are hearing the sin bin door slam shut over and over. Anaheim is averaging 11:09 in penalty minutes per game, which trails only the Nashville Predators. The Ducks' 224 penalties are tied with Nashville for tops in the NHL. Their 20 major infractions are also tops in the league, tied with Florida.

On Sunday, it was the NHL's renewed focus on stick infractions that hurt the Ducks again, with all five penalties falling under that umbrella.

"The standard definitely was that they're going to call all the slashes and he called them both ways," captain Ryan Getzlaf said of the referee. "It wasn't like he was only calling them on us."

The Sharks, though, were charged with just two stick infractions, with the team's third penalty a bench minor. Thursday against the New York Rangers, the Ducks will face a squad with a middle-of-the-pack power-play unit (19.6%, No. 14 in NHL), but one that's lit the lamp in three of the past five games.

Still, the Rangers have hit hard times, with just two wins in their past seven outings. New York reached the three-goal mark only twice during that period, and allowed four or more goals three times.



When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830.

Update: When the Ducks visited the Rangers in New York last month, they were defeated 4-1 on the strength of a two-goal game from journeyman Paul Carey. ... Former Vezina Trophy winner (top goaltender) Henrik Lundqvist, 35, has enjoyed a resurgent season and sports a .924 save percentage (No. 9 in NHL). ... Getzlaf has been held off the scoresheet just three times in the past 10 games.