Ducks miss playoffs; lack of offense, poor play at home among reasons

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The Anaheim Ducks failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third straight season.

Anaheim (15-28-7) was eliminated from contention when the St. Louis Blues defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Wednesday. The Ducks can finish no higher than fifth in the eight-team Honda West Division. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs.

The Ducks ended a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 win at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday but will miss the postseason again after a run of six straight appearances from 2013-18.

Here’s a look at what happened in 2020-21 for the Ducks, and why things could be better next season.

The Skinny

Potential UFAs: David Backes, F; Sam Carrick, F; Ryan Getzlaf, F; Carter Rowney, F; Andy Welinski, D; Ryan Miller, G

Potential RFAs: Max Comtois, F; Danton Heinen, F; Max Jones, F; Isac Lundestrom, F; Sam Steel, F; Alexander Volkov, F

Potential 2021 Draft picks: 7

What went wrong

Not much production: The Ducks have scored 108 goals in 50 games, an average of 2.16 goals per game; the goals and average each marks the fewest in the NHL. Their leading scorer, forward Max Comtois, has scored 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists) in 49 games. In a division with high-powered teams like the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights, Anaheim needed a lot more offense.

Home wasn’t so sweet: Honda Center has not been a haven for the Ducks. They have lost eight straight at home (0-7-1) since their last win there, 3-2 in overtime against the Arizona Coyotes on March 18, and are 5-17-4 at home this season. Anaheim has found more success on the road, where it’s 10-11-3.

Power play problems: The Ducks’ power play scored on an NHL-low 9.8 percent of its opportunities, and their 11 power-play goals are the fewest in the NHL. With the Ducks tied for 21st in the NHL with 86 goals at 5-on-5, they needed come through more often with the man advantage.

Reasons for optimism

Goaltending remains solid: John Gibson is a good goalie who hasn’t had much help this season; the Ducks have averaged 1.98 goals per game with Gibson playing, the worst goal support in the NHL among goalies to play at least 20 games. He’s 9-17-6 with a 3.01 goals-against average, a .902 save percentage and three shutouts in 32 games. Anthony Stolarz, who has been used more down the stretch, is 3-3-0 with a 2.25 GAA, a .926 save percentage and one shutout in seven games (six starts). Stolarz could be in line to replace Ryan Miller as the backup next season.

A healthy Jakob Silfverberg: The forward, who scored 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 47 games, had surgery April 22 to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. He will need 4-6 months to recover but is expected to be healthy for the start of next season. Coach Dallas Eakins said the injury is something Silfverberg has dealt with since last season. Silfverberg has scored at least 20 goals in four of his nine NHL seasons, including 21 in 66 games in 2019-20, and the Ducks hope his numbers improve with his health. 

Young players finding their way: Defenseman Jamie Drysdale, the No. 6 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, has scored six points (three goals, three assists) in 19 games. Forward Trevor Zegras, the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, has scored seven points (one goal, six assists) in 18 games. These two are a big part of Anaheim’s future and they’ll get more playing time next season.

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