The Ducks’ split of four games against the Kings last week did little to alter their fortunes. They’re still destined to finish in last place in the West Division. They’re still destined to finish with the NHL’s least successful power play. They’re still destined to get a high draft pick in July.
So, what did we learn?
For starters, the Ducks’ play was much improved, especially during the two games at Honda Center, which included a comprehensive 6-2 victory Saturday. They played at much a higher tempo, created plenty of scoring chances while skating five-on-five and also on the power play.
The Ducks’ youngest players played significant roles, including five who were featured going into the four-game series last week. If the Ducks are to complete their rebuilding project in a timely manner, their youngest players will be important factors in their turnaround.
There are still four games to be played, including Monday and Wednesday against the Blues in St. Louis. There are still four more chances for the five featured players to continue to prove their value to the Ducks’ executives, the coaching staff and to their teammates.
Here’s a closer look at how the five performed in the past four games:
Fleury, a defenseman, wanted a larger role with the Ducks after they acquired him April 12 from the Carolina Hurricanes, and that’s what he’s received. He was teamed with rookie Jamie Drysdale for the games against the Kings and they formed an effective pair and displayed quite a bit of chemistry last week. Fleury scored his first goal since the trade and also had an assist during the series.
Jones, a left wing, ended a 16-game goal drought with a third-period goal Saturday against the Kings. More and more, it seems he’s ticketed to play a power forward’s role in the future. He’s often more effective when he plays a more physical game, and that’s evident by the post-whistle scrums he inspires. Corey Perry used to play that black hat role, but Jones doesn’t have the same scoring touch.
Larsson, a defenseman, set a career high Saturday with three points, including his first goal of the season. It was the best game he’s played in four seasons with the Ducks, and it had everything to do with his play at both ends of the ice. The Ducks don’t need him to be a point producer, but it wouldn’t hurt now and then. They do need him to play the sort of confident defensive game he played Saturday, though.
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Source:: Los Angeles Daily News
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