Anaheim Ducks Improved Offense Coming From Aggressive Blue Line

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 18: Jamie Drysdale #34 of the Anaheim Ducks in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 18, 2021 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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The Anaheim Ducks entered the season hoping to improve upon the worst offense in the league last year. While it’s still very early in the season, the Ducks have seen an improvement in finding the back of the net, as well as another phase of the game they struggled with a year ago.

During the shortened season a year ago, the Ducks only managed 11 power play goals, the fewest in the league. 

Already, just six games into the 2021-2022 season Anaheim have six goals on the man advantage. One of the biggest differences from last year to this season has been the production that the Ducks have gotten from the blue line. 

Last season, Anaheim defensemen scored the fewest points as a collective unit than any other team in the league. Collectively, they recorded 79 points (18 G, 61 A) in the 56 games played during the 2020-2021 season.

That reflected on the power play as well, as defensemen were responsible for just 11 points while having the man advantage.

This year has been a complete turnaround and it won’t be that much longer until they pass all those marks.

As a team, the Ducks have six power play goals in six games played. Where the defensemen accounted for just 11 points a man up last year, they already have nine this season, with Cam Fowler leading the way with four.

It hasn’t just been on the man advantage the defense has capitalized on pitching in offensively, although over half of the points registered from the blue has come on the power play.

Anaheim defensemen have scored five goals, to go along with 11 overall assists for 16 points in the first six games of the season.

On the season, Anaheim has seen it’s defensemen pitch in an average of nearly three points per game (2.66) through the first six games of the season, most of which are coming by way of assists (1.83 assists per game). Last year, mostly the same group average just 1.41 points per game (1.08 assists per game).

Kevin Shattenkirk, in his second season with the Ducks, leads the blue line with six overall points (3 G, 3 A). Second year pro Jamie Drysdale is third on the team, behind Shattenkirk and Fowler, with three points (G, 2 A).

His progression has played a big part, and it was evident on their power play goal scored against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

Drysdale aggressively put three shot attempts on net in a row before the final one was redirected by Rickard Rakell for the goal. The former sixth overall pick also scored the game winning overtime goal against the Calgary Flames earlier this season.

While there is still plenty of work to be done, namely in the defensive zone, the Ducks have certainly taken the right step forward when it comes to scoring. They identified their issues (wasn’t hard to point out) and addressed them, making progress in the right places.

After being mostly non-competitive last season, the Ducks have stayed in just about every game they have played this year. Their lost to the Winnipeg Jets on October 21st was the only game they lost by more than a goal.

Anaheim still has some time before they are competing again, but in the meantime they look to be a far more exciting team than a year ago, led by their youthful talent up front and improved and aggressive blue line.

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