After winning 10 games in a row, I knew that the Ducks would not be able to match that pace over their next 10 game stretch. But, the amazing this is, while they did lose 2 games, they still put up another 8 game winning streak and have won 18 of their last 20 games, easily the best stretch of regular season hockey in Ducks history. Besides the insane number of games that this team has been winning, they also set some other team records against Vancouver when the scored a franchise record 6 powerplay goals in the game, and finished the night with a franchise record of 9 goals scored (and if you want to be truly entertained, check out Vancouver's Twitter feed from that night, it's hilarious). The Ducks currently lead the entire league in points, with a 4 point lead over Chicago (one of the 2 teams to beat the Ducks over the last 20 games). While I never care about winning the division, conference, or league during the regular season, it would be a really cool thing for this team to come out on top. The Ducks have never been atop the NHL or Western Conference at the end of the season, and have won the Pacific Division only twice in their existence. And it would be nice when the playoffs rolled around for the Ducks to be guaranteed home ice advantage. The goal is to make the playoffs, being atop the league, conference, or division would just be a nice bonus for a team that has worked hard all season. I won't expect it to happen, but I'll be quite happy if it does.
As usual, I'll with the individual stat leaders over the last 10 games.
The leading Ducks goal scorer only scored 5 goals in the last 10 games, but 4 different players managed this feat: Nick Bonino, Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry. It's great seeing so many different players scoring, and even better that 2 of these 4 players were not on the Ducks top line. This team has a dominant top line, but the scoring is also spread throughout the lineup very evenly. After these top 4, Kyle Palmieri and Teemu Selanne were next in the goal scoring department with 3 goals each. The defense chipped in with 7 goals and Ben Lovejoy, Sami Vatanen, and Hampus Lindholm led the way with 2 goals each. Lovejoy and Lindholm both had their 1st career 2 goal game.
The leading assist man for the Ducks over the last 10 games was Perry with 8 assists. Getzlaf came in 2nd with 7 assists, and Matt Beleskey was 3rd with 6 assists. After missing so many games after sustaining a broken thumb early in the season, it's nice to see Beleskey chipping in with the offense more. He ended up with 8 points in 9 games, very good numbers for a player who bounces around the lineup.
The Ducks leading scorer over the last 10 games was Perry with 13 points. Getzlaf was 2nd with 12 points, and Bonino was 3rd with 9 points. While the Ducks have been scoring by committee, it was nice to see both Getzlaf and Perry put up another excellent stretch of 10 games and average over a point a game during that time.
The +/- leader for the Ducks over the last 10 games was quite surprising. After having a rough start to the season, Kyle Palmieri has really turned his game around and had a +9 rating to lead the team (he also chipped in 3 goals and 7 points). 4 players were tied for 2nd with a +6 rating, Francois Beauchemin, Cam Fowler, Ben Lovejoy, and Corey Perry. 4 Ducks had a minus rating: Bryan Allen, Tim Jackman, Dustin Penner, and Teemu Selanne were all -1 in the Ducks last 10 games.
The Ducks scored 13 powerplay goals in their last 10 games, far and away the most they have scored during any 10 game stretch this season. Bonino led the way with 4 powerplay goals, Selanne was 2nd with 3, and Perry was 3rd with 2 powerplay goals.
The Ducks scored 2 shorthanded goals, both of them coming from Cogliano, who is having a fantastic season for the Ducks.
The Ducks 8 gamewinning goals were scored by a wide variety of players. Cogliano and Selanne both had 2 gamewinning goals for the Ducks, while Perry, Getzlaf, Beleskey, and Lovejoy all chipped in with a gamewinning goal during the Ducks 8 game winning streak. Perry's goal was the only one scored in overtime, coming in the final seconds against Vancouver. With only 2 of those gamewinners coming from the Ducks top line, it's clear that any of the Ducks 4 lines can win the game for this team.
Perry led the Ducks in shots on goal with 33, Getzlaf and Bonino were tied for 2nd with 24 shots a piece, and Palmieri was 4th with 22 shots on goal.
The Ducks were decent in the faceoff circle over the last 10 games, but need to improve more. Once again Mathieu Perreault led the way, winning 54.84% of his draws, Koivu was 2nd, winning 51.68% of his draws, and Bonino was 3rd, winning only 46.01% of his draws. The Ducks top 2 faceoff men did their job over the last 10 games, but the rest of the Ducks centers (especially Getzlaf) need to step their game up in the faceoff circle.
Jonas Hiller played in 7 games and won 6 of them. His 6th win was his 14th straight win, a franchise record, and tied for 2nd all time. He faced 193 shots and let in 16 goals for a save percentage of .917. He had 1 shutout and 1 empty net goal was scored against the Ducks when he was pulled. Frederik Andersen played in 3 games and picked up wins in 2 of them. He faced 81 shots and allowed 7 goals for a save percentage of .914.
And now, the team stats. The Ducks scored 42 goals for an average of 4.2 goals a game, the highest mark for them this season in a 10 game stretch, helped out by their 9 goal game and the fact that the Ducks scored 4 or more goals in 6 straight games (also a franchise record). The Ducks allowed 24 goals against for an average of 2.4 goals against per game. The Ducks powerplay saw a huge increase, especially because of that game against Vancouver. But, taking out those 6 goals, the Ducks still connected 7 times on the powerplay in the other 9 games, which are still pretty damn good numbers. Overall the Ducks were 13 for 43 on the powerplay, scoring on 30.23% of their chances. That is the highest percentage for the Ducks powerplay this season in any of these 10 game stretches. The Ducks penalty kill was quite good, stopping 84.21% of the powerplays they faced allowing only 6 goals in 38 chances. The Ducks longest winning streak was 8 games, and their longest losing streak was 1 game.
The Ducks best forward in the last 10 games was Kyle Palmieri. While he didn't put up the numbers that Perry or Getzlaf did, almost every time he was on the ice he was making something happen. He was going to the net, he was shooting the puck (and caught at least 1 post) and making things happen on the ice for the Ducks. His +9 rating was spectacular and he was just everywhere in the offensive zone for the Ducks. Hopefully he can keep this level of play up, if he does, then I'll be quite happy. This is the Palmieri that I was hoping to see when the season started. And it appears to have taken a little while for him to show up, I'm glad that he finally has.
It's hard to pick the Ducks worst forward over the last 10 games because of how well they have been playing. But if I have to pick one, then I guess I'll have to go with Dustin Penner. He had only 2 points in 7 games (he missed a couple games with injury). He's got a big body and soft hands, and when he uses them he is one of the dominant power forwards in the league. He just didn't use it enough in those 7 games. I didn't pick him because he's been bad, I picked him because I know that he can be better.
The biggest surprise at forward was Patrick Maroon. He has 11 points this season, 5 of them coming in the last 10 games (1 goal and 4 assists). Though he only played in 7 games, he was forcing himself into the lineup more often than he has been this season, and even made his way onto the top line for a time. He reminds me of Penner early in his career, a big body with nice hands who is still figuring out how to put his entire game together. If he does figure it out then look out, the Ducks will have another big body who can hit and score.
The Ducks best defenseman in the last 10 games was Ben Lovejoy. He's been amazing this season, and he and Fowler have formed a great defensive pairing. But in the last 10 games it was Lovejoy who stepped his game up and was even better than Fowler. Against the Oilers he had his 1st career 2 goal game and has just been firing the puck ever since. He has always had a great shot, but he has never used it very much. But his confidence is sky high right now and fired the puck 19 times on goal in the last 10 games. His +6 rating was tied for 2nd on the team and did a great job of limiting opponents top lines while he was on the ice.
Because of the Ducks success it is hard to pick a defenseman who has not been pulling his weight. Their top 2 units of Fowler-Lovejoy and Beauchemin-Lindholm have been stopping opposing teams and scoring, while the rotating bottom unit of Allen-Fistric-Vatanen has also done a very nice job on the ice. But, being forced to pick one of them, I'd have to go with Bryan Allen, primarily because he was the only defenseman with a minus rating in the last 10 games and had no points. That being said, he only played in 4 games because of injury, so I'm expecting him to bounce back in the Ducks next 10 games.
The biggest surprise on defense in the last 10 games was no one. At this point I can't call the play of Vatanen or Lindholm surprising, both of them have (but especially Lindholm) have been great for the Ducks this season. Fowler-Lovejoy have settled into a great defensive pairing. And Fistric has been solid for the Ducks blueline. The only surprising thing was that Beauchemin finally scored a goal, his 1st of the season. This is surprising because he should have scored earlier in the season than this, he's got a great shot and needs to use it more. So the surprise was how long it took Beauchemin to finally score a goal this season.
And that was the Ducks last 10 games. While the Ducks only won 8 games in a row, it would have been a franchise record if not for the 10 game winning streak just prior to it. Combined, the last 20 games have been the most successful stretch for the Ducks ever, and hopefully they can keep playing just as well as the season gets into the latter half.