The Ducks finished the month of December with a 6-3 over the San Jose Sharks on New Years Eve. After the Sharks had ended the Ducks 10 game winning streak, the Ducks were looking to get revenge on their California rivals and did just that. Overall, the Ducks played 13 games in December and had a record of 11-1-1, good for 23 points! As with November and October, I'll go through the highs and the lows of the past month of Ducks hockey.
The worst game for the Ducks in December was the December 29th game against the Sharks. The Ducks had come into the game with a franchise record 10 game winning streak and had won their last 6 road games. Their previous road loss had also been in San Jose, a 4-3 shootout loss back in November. On the 29th, the Ducks came out flat and the Sharks jumped all over the Ducks, scoring 2 early goals, the 1st coming just a 1:17 into the game, and the 2nd coming at 10:07 into the 1st period. And while the Ducks battled back and played better after that, they ended up falling behind 3-0, although Patrick Maroon did score a goal midway through the 3rd period to keep the Ducks from being shutout. The Ducks had a rough outing in this one, and was their worst game of December.
The Ducks best game of December is going to be a little hard to pick. I could go with the win over Chicago that started off their winning streak, or the win in Detroit, since the Ducks almost never leave the Joe with a victory, or the game against the Islanders where the Ducks set their franchise record 8th straight win, or the game against Phoenix where they notched their 10th straight win. But, instead, I'm going to go with the final win of the month, and the only one that didn't come during their 10 game winning streak, the 6-3 victory over the Sharks. While it wasn't the Ducks best played game and they allowed 3 goals (2 on the powerplay), it was a statement win. 2 days prior, the Sharks had ended the Ducks franchise record 10 game winning streak, and the Ducks weren't going to take that lying down. They came out looking for revenge and they took it. They scored 6 goals, once on the powerplay and once while shorthanded. Though the game was back and forth through the 1st half of the game, the Ducks put the game away in the 2nd half of the game. It was a sloppy game with plentiful scoring chances both ways and Jonas Hiller had to make some great saves. But when 60 minutes was up the Ducks had the win. It wasn't pretty, but it was exciting, and, more importantly, the Ducks had gotten their revenge on the Sharks.
The biggest surprise for the Ducks this month was their 10 game winning streak. Impressive, no question. Possible, sure. But, expected? Hell no. The Ducks had never won more than 7 games in a row (matched earlier this season), so the 10 game winning streak was easily the biggest surprise (and a very nice one I might add). I'd be happy with a few more surprises like this one through the 2nd half of the season, but I definitely won't be expecting it.
The biggest worry for the Ducks over the last month was the number of times that the other team scored 1st. While the Ducks came back and won several of those games, it's still a worrying stat, especially after the start of the season when the Ducks scored 1st more often than not. But this month the Ducks allowed the 1st goal far too often. Despite their winning record when the other team scored 1st this past month, the Ducks need to get back to scoring the 1st goal of the game.
The Ducks had the potential to get 26 points in the month of December and managed to get 23 of them. I'd call that a damn good month. It wasn't a perfect month (see the Ducks powerplay), but for Ducks fans it was a great one. Here's to hoping that we get more months close to that (I won't say repeating that because I won't ever expect any team to win 10 straight games). I'm looking forward to what January and 2014 brings us.