Ruh roh! Scooby Doo knows the Ducks are slipping after losing 4-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday night. It was the second loss in a row for a team that hasn't lost very many this season. With Chicago coming to town, you would hope they don't want it to be three in a row.
So what is up with this team that seemed unstoppable?
"We knew we were going to hit some patches here and there," said Ryan Getzlaf. "It’s frustrating with our effort and our start of the game. We’re not ready to play. They came out and they played hard. Their goaltender played well early and we just didn’t respond. We didn’t keep playing the game."
The Ducks encountered very strong goaltending from Dan Ellis and the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. Sergei Bobrovsky was equally strong in net for the Blue Jackets, making 34 saves.
Continuing to fall behind early is becoming a dangerous pattern. Early in the season, the Ducks seemed capable of overcoming a deficit. Other teams have figured out how to defend against them and keep them from staging a comeback, but Anaheim has not adjusted. And frankly, the falling behind thing just looks plain lazy at this point.
"We just got outworked," was coach Bruce Boudreau's blunt assessment. "We lost all the one-on-one battles. We don’t have the sense of urgency. It’s not there. If you want to win in this league, it has to be there every night. Every team you play is hungry for points."
Sure, there is a cushion, but that cushion is rapidly evaporating. Chicago is just three points behind Anaheim in the overall standings. There isn't that much room to sit back and relax for a few games.
Ryan Johansen scored first for the Columbus at 11:10 of the first period. That was followed by a power play goal from at 16:43 of the second period. Former Duck, James Wisniewski, shot the puck and it deflected off of RJ Umberger's skate and into the net behind Frederik Andersen.
The Ducks finally got on the board in the third period with a goal from Mathieu Perreault at 5:45. That gave the Ducks and fans in the Honda Center a bit of life as it was now 2-1 and plenty of time to tie up the game.
Columbus had other thoughts.
Nick Foligno scored twice. First at 8:48, effectively sucking away momentum from Anaheim. Then on the power play at 13:07. Now the mountain got steeper.
"I have to be better seeing some of those chances," said Andersen, who made 29 saves. "It doesn’t matter how hard they come. I have to be better. It’s tough to win when you let in four goals. We weren’t ready."
A goal from Getzlaf at 16:41 made it 4-2, but that was all the Ducks could manage as the Blue Jackets shut them down the rest of the way. .
"It’s all about us," said Perreault. "We haven’t had a lot of emotion lately. We’re just going through the motions. We’ve been winning so much that we kind of got into a lull right now. We have to find a way to get out of it."
The Ducks are now 1-3-0 on this current homestand. They have one more game against Chicago at home on Wednesday and a final game before the Olympic break against the Nashville Predators.
"It’s probably great that Chicago is coming in," said Boudreau. "It’s a team that if we don’t play up to our best level, we’re going to get our butts kicked. It’s never good to see Chicago because they’re a great team, but it’s maybe something we need."
You don't want to go into the Olympic break slumping.
"We’re at the point of the year where you have the break coming up, and you’re trying to focus on hockey while everyone else wants you to focus on everything around it," Getzlaf said. "We have to get our mindset right for these next two games and finish this right."
Finishing begins with good starts. Time to go for it.