Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 11/6/11
The roadtrip began with so much promise. After a thrilling, hard-fought 3-2 shootout loss in Chicago on October 25 that was followed by a textbook road performance in a 3-2 win at Minnesota two nights later, the Anaheim Ducks appeared on the precipice of breaking out of some early season inconsistencies with a unifying business trip through the Central and Eastern time zones. Five losses later, they returned to Honda Center having set their clocks back by an hour and their offense back to training camp. Having averaged just 1.6 goals per game through their seven-game trip, there wasn't anything to find solace in after a 5-0 loss to Detroit in a performance that Head Coach Randy Carlyle deemed "by far our worst game of the year." "We were just doing nothing," Carlyle told Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register. "It was like we were standing still and they were skating. They had their skates on and we were in street shoes." There were several low-points in their 1-3-3 trip in addition to the 5-0 loss in Detroit: Pekka Rinne's 3-0 shutout in an emotional rematch of last year's first round playoff series versus Nashville; one goal and just 20 shots on net in a 3-1 loss in Columbus, one of the Blue Jackets' two victories on the season; and a blown three-goal lead in an overtime loss at Washington, the game that featured the infamous Ovechkin outburst. Call it a lack of consistency, call it an early-season slump, but following the win in Minnesota, Anaheim had trouble assembling all facets of their game in unison for a 60-minute effort. Most glaringly, the offense has struggled early on replicating the high marks it set last year, when Corey Perry posted 98 points en route to the Hart Trophy and the Ducks power play emerged as one of the league's most lethal, operating at above 25. This season, only four players (Selanne, Perry, Getzlaf, Ryan) have scored more than once. The precision, trigger-happy defensive core that contributed with efficient puck movement last year has stalled, with Lubomir Visnovsky registering four points and a minus-7 rating a year after he set a career high with 68 points. "What we've got to do is get Lubomir Visnovsky and Toni Lydman playing to a higher level," Carlyle said to the Orange County Register prior to Saturday's game in Detroit. "And that's been our goal and going to be our goal going forward." Even the responsible two-way forwards such as Brandon McMillan and Andrew Gordon have struggled in their roles, combining for a minus-15 effort fourteen games into the season. Aside from the win in Minnesota, the road trip's high point didn't even come on NHL ice. Friday night the OHL's London Knights raised Perry's 94 to the rafters in an emotional ceremony that brought the reigning MVP to tears. Perry, who recorded 380 points in 253 games with London, led the Knights to the 2005 Memorial Cup title. "You see the video and come out and everybody, they started chanting my name. It was pretty emotional," Perry told reporters Saturday in Detroit. The sample size is still small, and with over four months to play, there will be many an opportunity for the Ducks to emerge from their recently glacial starts. 14 games into last season, Anaheim was just 6-7-1, equaling the 13 points they've registered thus far in 2010-11. The Ducks then won 41 of their next 68 games to capture home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. If Anaheim is to replicate their surge again this year, it's going to take a committed group of players fitting into their roles in addition to a necessary spike in the offense. Teemu Selanne summed it up appropriately following last Wednesday's loss in Washington. "You need everybody," Selanne said. "There's no room for passengers right now. Especially when the team is struggling. Everybody has to play their best and the effort has to be there every night. If not, it's bad news." NOTES: 2009 first round draft pick Peter Holland made his NHL debut during Saturday's loss in Detroit. Skating on a line with Brandon McMillan and Devante Smith-Pelly, Holland was unable to register a point in his 11:06 of ice time. He was recalled Saturday after totaling five points (2-3-5) in nine games with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch. Jonas Hiller was pulled midway through the third period of Saturday's loss, having stopped 40 of 45 shots. Dan Ellis stopped all five shots in relief. The Ducks' travel schedule eases considerably for the next month, with a three game homestand that begins Wednesday at the Honda Center against Nashville (7:30 pm Prime Ticket KLAA 830), eventually followed by a home-and-home series with the Los Angeles Kings on November 1617. Prior to a December 8 game in St. Louis, Anaheim's only road game outside of Southern California is a Wednesday, November 23 tilt against Pacific Division foe Phoenix.
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