After battling through a franchise-record five consecutive overtime games, the Ducks were done midway through the second period Sunday in a 6-2 loss to the Florida Panthers. And while that ended a league-leading streak of seven straight games in which they had earned at least a point, it also masked the fact that the Ducks entered Sunday with just one win in their last five starts. So it shouldn’t have been a total surprise when they came out flat and stayed there.
And that’s not all we learned Sunday.
The Ducks were coming off back-to-back games with their neighborhood rival Kings that were almost playoff-worthy in their intensity. So when they had to double back and play the lowly Panthers a day later in an arena that was only two-thirds full at the opening puck drop, they couldn’t rise to the occasion.
“We weren’t very good,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “From the first shift, when we allowed a 2-on-1, we just weren’t very good. We had four 2-on-1s against us in the first 21 minutes. We don’t know if we’ve had two in the previous 18 games. It was just a complete effort as far as not being very good.”
Goalie Frederik Andersen -- who started, was pulled in the second period, then returned to finish the game -- agreed with his coach.
“We weren’t ready and it showed,” he said. “Obviously it’s a better atmosphere when you play the Kings but we can’t be unprepared to play any team in this league. We paid for it.”
The returns of Corey Perry and Kyle Palmieri required adjustments
Clearly the Ducks are a much better team with Perry, their leading scorer, back from a five-game absence because of the mumps and with Palmieri playing for the first time after recovering from a high ankle sprain. But their returns necessitated a number of adjustments that weren’t necessarily smooth ones.
“Usually what happens in a situation like that is people say, ‘Oh Corey’s back. We don’t have to be as good as we were. Let him do it.’ ” Boudreau said. “It makes changes. We’ve had to change the lines every game for the last 10 games. We’d like to get some continuity in who we’re playing.”
The Ducks are certainly more efficient offensively with Perry (second in the NHL with 11 goals) on the ice, averaging more goals (2.71) on fewer shots (30.1). And though he was active Sunday, he finished the loss with just two shots on 20 shifts.
Palmieri, who had 14 goals and 17 assists last season, also had two shots in 20 shifts
Vaccinations might be a good idea next year
Besides losing Perry, their leading scorer, for five games with the mumps, the Ducks remain without defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who has missed four games with the mumps, and were without winger Tim Jackman on Sunday because of the flu.