You can preach all you want about the necessity of having a good start, but the reality is that you have to back it up with real results. The Ducks did not do that in their 4-0 loss to the Red Wings to open the NHL season.
Sure, the Ducks have historically been impotent at Joe Louis Arena in the regular season (although post-season has been another matter). Nothing changed after 60 more minutes in Detroit. Now the Ducks are 3-23-7 all time when in Michigan.
Detroit, the oldest team in the league, proved that older can be wiser. Johan Franzen and Mike Modano scored just :24 seconds apart in the first period and the Red Wings never looked back. Modano, 40, got his first goal in a uniform other than the Dallas/Minnesota Stars and effectively sucked any chances the Ducks might have had in the game.
So much for Jonas Hiller holding down the fort in net. Then again, when the fort is attacked by 43 shots on goal, who can blame Hiller?
Pavel Datsyuk and Dan Cleary added tallies in the second period. Cleary’s came after a long review in Toronto and some dispute about when the net came off its moorings. 3-0 or 4-0, the score really did not matter at that point.
The Ducks were unable to get any offense, although they had good chances in spurts. Jimmy Howard made sure that Anaheim would get nothing past him, stopping 21 shots, half the amount that Hiller saw.
By the third period it became clear that the Ducks were already writing off this game and looking towards Saturday night in Nashville. Get some momentum. Get some good shifts. Figure out how to get some offense. Practice specialty teams.
On a positive note, the Ducks were 100% on the penalty kill, taking care of all six power plays, including a 5 on 3 for Detroit late in the game. There was not much practice on the power play, as Detroit maintained its usual discipline and only gave the Ducks one opportunity with the extra man.
And so begins the season. One game down, 81 more to go. It has to get better from here or it will be a long season.
Bright Debut: 18 year old defenseman Cam Fowler got his NHL debut against the Red Wings. Fowler, who grew up in Michigan, had plenty of friends and family, not to mention the entire Windsor Spitfire team from across the border. Fowler played for the Spitfires last year before being drafted #12 in the first round by the Ducks this past June. Fowler played 20:48 and had an even rating when all was said and done. He continues to impress and the Ducks can use his talents on the blue line.