As the season continues in the muck and mire and what appears to be a fighting chance at the number one draft pick in June, I am personally getting pretty close to acceptance.
Nearly a fourth of the way into the season and the Ducks have a lovely 6-9-4 record. The last time they started this slow was 2009-2010 (6-10-3) and they were not able to scramble enough to make the post season. Before that? You have to go all the way back ten years ago to 2000-2001 and 2001-2002. Back when playing crappy was expected by fans. Not enjoyed, but expected. Those seasons and most of the 90's were a painful exercise for Ducks fans. You earned the term "Diehard" because you had to be with their record.
The 2011-2012 season is beginning to look like a bad flashback for the Anaheim Ducks.
Another loss to the Los Angeles Kings for the second time in as many nights just continues to leave a sour taste in one's mouth. Those in attendance have given up hard earned bucks to sit in those seats and the prices are current, not a flashback to the 90's. Sure, the players don't like losing either, but at least they are getting paid to be there.
The Ducks are at the bottom of the Pacific Division and the Kings have now leapfrogged to the top.
Anaheim has yet to win a game where the opponent scores first. Last night was no exception in the 5-3 loss.
As it was on Wednesday night, the first period ended with no goals scored by either team. However, the shots on goal were much more even than Wednesday, a positive sign.
Even though Mike Richards (scorer of the lone goal on Wednesday) put the Kings on the board just :54 seconds into the second period, the Ducks still had a little more life. They were able to tie it up with Andrew Cogliano providing a little spark at 3:19.
Getting a power play seemed to be a great opportunity for Anaheim to take a lead in the game. Simon Gagne's short handed tally at 7:28 sucked that opportunity right down the drain. Too much time and space for Gagne to put the puck behind Dan Ellis, who was giving Jonas Hiller a break from being a shooting gallery target.
Once the third period began (a problem with the arena lights forced a weird 17 minute delay), things were wobbly for the Ducks. Toni Lydman took two consecutive penalties, the second one being a double minor that included an unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing with the ref. Probably the signs of early unraveling as Slava Voynov had a power play goal off the first penalty at 2:45 to give the Kings a 3-1 lead.
Anaheim really perked up and threw everything they had at Jonathan Quick. A power play goal from Corey Perry at 8:27 brought the Ducks back within one goal. The goal had to be reviewed, never making it easy on the Ducks, and showed that the puck went in off of Perry's knee into the net.
Building on that, Cogliano got his second of the night at 13:35 to tie up the game. Next goal would likely win it and either team was getting good chances.
Anze Kopitar dashed Anaheim's hopes with a goal at 16:59. It was one the Kings needed, and one the Ducks had hoped to get.
With three minutes to go and a late power play opportunity, all was not lost for the Ducks. Ellis was out of the net for an extra attacker and the Ducks were sniffing for a way to tie the game up once again.
No such luck.
Richards made a precision clear of the puck from the Kings zone that made it in the net at the opposite end. Not only an empty net goal, but the second short hander of the game. With under two minutes left, the Ducks could not climb the tall mountain to even get a point out of the game.
"It's always tough playing from behind and we played from behind most of the night," said coach Randy Carlyle. "We got fired up in the game in the third period. We started to play with that emotion and got skating. It seems we have to get hit over the head to get to that point."
Maybe someone should take a 2 x 4 before games and make sure they are awake. Maybe they can raffle that duty off amongst the season ticket holders, who are probably beginning to wonder why they continue to throw away perfectly decent money to watch a team lose.
The Ducks next opportunity to wallow further (or maybe redeem themselves) comes on Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings will be playing the Kings the night before. That has not gone so well for the Ducks lately. And the Red Wings absolutely embarassed the Ducks at the end of their road trip earlier this month.
Remember, I am at acceptance. I am not going to even entertain a thought that the Ducks can win on Sunday, or pray extra hard that morning at church. No sense drinking away my depressed sorrows (my liver could not tolerate that anyway). I merely accept that I am going to be looking at a team that will most likely have a 6-10-4 record at the end of the evening. It's just better that way.