It's not been the best three weeks for the Anaheim Ducks, who are 6-8-3 heading into their Battle of California matchup with the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.
They're 2-5-3 in their last 10 games, including a 1-2 homestand after a long Eastern Conference road trip. A bit more concerning: Jonas Hiller is 5-7-3 in 15 games with a rather large 3.10 GAA; meanwhile, Anaheim has the lowest goals-for average in the NHL at 1.97 per game, ranking behind the Islanders and the Flames.
Factoring into that: The rough start for Bobby Ryan's line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Perry has six goals, and is the only one of the three in double-digits for points. Ryan has one goal this month, although he does have an assist in three straight games.
We spoke with Ryan on Wednesday night for another upcoming story, and had a chance to inquire about the Ducks a bit with the 24-year-old star.
Q. What's going on with the Ducks?
RYAN: It's been a very, very ugly month for us. We struggled on the road, and then struggled at home. We haven't played a brand of hockey that we can be proud of. We just have a 15-minute window every game where the other team scores three or four goals. It's heartbreaking.
In watching you guys play in Washington during the road trip, two things struck me: a lack of secondary scoring and Jonas Hiller struggling between the pipes. Do you feel like either of those are starting to be remedied?
The scoring issue will get better. We picked up [Niklas] Hagman today, who can provide some offense.
We have a lot of young guys back there [at forward]. It takes a good 20-25 games to where the game starts slowing down for you, so that things become a little more natural and instinctive. You almost forget there's a puck out there sometimes when you're a rookie, you get so excited. I think we've got a lot of guys that are going to come into their own.
Jonas hasn't been bad. I think he hasn't been seeing the puck as cleanly as he's wanted to, maybe fighting it a little bit. But we've got full confidence in him down the stretch.
With the Hagman thing, some people have seen this as GM Bob Murray making a little move, knocking on the dressing room door and letting it be known that there might be other changes afoot if things don't turn around. Is that accurate?
I think so. You never want to mess with the chemistry of the room. Throughout all of this we kept [thinking] that we didn't want to see guys go. This is a huge move for us to bring in somebody who can compete, score goals for us and not have to give up anyone from our core.
Where's your game 17 games into the season? Probably not the start you wanted. But you are on the plus side [plus-2], sir, so kudos on that.
Thanks. I usually try and float above that zero.
I had a tough road trip and a very tough start of the season. I really haven't felt great on the ice until in the last three games, where things are coming a little bit easier for me. Our line's played better too; we've held onto the puck more and made some plays in some good areas.
The best thing to do, as a line, is to put 17 games behind you and just look forward.
A couple of Teemu questions. You're a hockey fan as well as a hockey player; what's it like seeing this guy operate at his age every game?
I've been asked that question a million times: It's pretty incredible. I'm never going to have another answer.
I don't know how he typically is in the room, but after that Capitals game he seemed pretty fiery. Has his attitude changed at all this year?
I think he just stepped up after a game where he played really well and wasn't rewarded for it. He was just a little frustrated and had some choice words for the team. When you're 41 and you've done almost everything as a player, I think he was just a little upset at the way things are going.
Finally, is there a sense that no matter how far back you get in the West, that you can rally like you did last year to not only make the playoffs but get a decent seed?
The biggest thing we want to do is not let ourselves have to think that.
We need to get back to the basics. Play road hockey every game, whether we're at home or on the road. Be that boring, simple team that grinds other teams down. We're an optimistic club. We know what we're capable of.