They used a goalie who hadn’t started a game since last season. They were playing the second game on back-to-back nights at the end of a long trip. Two of their best defensemen were sidelined.
All of those things contributed to the defeat, but the fact that is was so one-sided and the Ducks lacked energy … that’s what ate at Coach Bruce Boudreau.
Speaking about his decision to finally sit goalie Frederik Andersen after 20 consecutive starts in favor of recent veteran free-agent addition Ilya Bryzgalov, Boudreau spoke in a voice genuinely at a loss by the performance.
“Freddie’s been playing so much … that was Bryz’s game to win or lose,” Boudreau said. “I’m not finding too many positives in it. To do that and use cliches and excuses, man, the last time we were in a back-to-back, it was our best game in Winnipeg” six days earlier.
1) Wasn’t this one of those games the Ducks wouldn’t mind losing?
The schedule-makers can only do so much. There’s going to be difficult assignments, like closing a run seven road games over 15 days, with one home game in the middle, as a holiday break beckons.
Remember in the preseason when General Manager Bob Murray said the Ducks would not obsess over every win, that the goal was to be at their best in the playoffs?
So, they lost a game?
They got Andersen some needed rest, didn’t press defenseman Hampus Lindholm into service and they got a needed look at Bryzgalov in a real game while closing the latest trip with a 3-2 record.
Still comfortably in first place, some lessons learned.
Like Bryzgalov said, “Moving forward. When you don’t get that result, what else can you do? Practice tomorrow, feel better and learn from your mistakes.”
2) The jury’s out on Bryzgalov
He’s a respected veteran with playoff games in his recent past, but six shots getting past you from the seventh-place Atlantic Division team is troubling.
The Ducks feel better about the durability of Andersen following his 20-game run, but as rookie John Gibson completes his recovery from a groin injury at minor-league Norfolk, it’s unclear when Bryzgalov could return in a starting role.
A week from Saturday in Arizona before playing division-rival Vancouver at home the next night? Or Jan. 16 against New Jersey with a trip to Staples Center the next evening?
“I’ve got to focus on my game and bring my game to the best level, because right now it’s not very close,” Bryzgalov said.
3) Dany Heatley has kinks to work out, too
The forward returned from his November groin surgery but said rust was at play despite getting the chance to play with the first line and center Ryan Getzlaf. He had one shot in 13-plus minutes, and was later demoted off the line in favor of Patrick Maroon.
4) It was a bad night for Murray’s recent roster moves
Bryzgalov: six goals given up on 31 shots.
Forward Rene Bourque: beaten on a goal, and has just one goal to show through 14 games with Anaheim since being acquired from Montreal.
Defenseman Colby Robak: turnover that quickly was converted into a goal.