Three Questions From The Anaheim Ducks Home Opener

While Opening Night doesn’t carry any extra material significance in an 82-game season, its emotional significance in the hearts of hockey fans is substantial. It marks the turning point from off-ice speculation to on-ice results; from contracts signed in ink to plays signed in blood and sweat; and from hope of a bright future to either gratification or disappointment. With Opening Night having come and gone for the Anaheim Ducks, here are three questions I am left wondering from their performance:

Can the Ducks Sustain Pressure in the Offense Zone?

Don’t let the victory fool you: the Ducks’ offense was anemic and uncoordinated throughout most of the game. Shot differential was 48-27 in favor of the Kraken and the theme of the night was limited offensive zone possession, as the Ducks’ offense were either losing the puck in the neutral zone or chasing the puck after an ill-advised shot or pass too soon after entering the offensive zone. Is this because this team needs time to develop cohesion and chemistry, or does it reflect an overarching deficiency in the current roster’s skill set in sustaining pressure on the offense? Time will tell, but if it reflects the latter – and if they fail to adjust their offensive strategy in response to being stifled – then we’re in for a rough season.

Is This Team Going to Continue to Rely on Gibson to Bail Them Out?

How many times have we seen this before? Gibson was in top form as he was yet again forced to squeeze out a win from what would have otherwise been a Kraken blowout, and his primary assist on Terry’s game-winning goal underscores how important he was in winning this game. Does the deja vu of Gibson bailing this team out from an assured loss foreshadow yet another season of carrying this team? And if so, how does this change Gibson’s thoughts on spending the prime years of his career on a rebuilding Ducks team? Although he has denied it, numerous sources have reported that he would be open to a trade and it will be interesting to see what direction this conversation takes if this season follows a similar trajectory as his last few.

Will McTavish Win the Calder this Season?

While a Gibson-enabled win might be reminiscent of previous seasons, the excellent play of the 19-year-old McTavish – the third overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft – points to the Ducks’ rebuild finally paying off. In a game filled with sloppy giveaways and a stagnant forecheck, the crisp passing and patient puck possession of McTavish was a bright spot that greatly contrasted the play of his veteran teammates. Can he sustain this level of play and win the Calder against strong competition in Owen Power, Matty Beniers, and Jake Sanderson (among others)? While being competitive in the playoff race might be a stretch, for the second year in a row Ducks fans have an exciting Calder race to look forward to.

Keep scrolling to learn more about Emma D.A. and follow her on Instagram at @emmaaajay 🧡

Author: Emma D.A.

Emma D.A. is a doctor who grew up idolizing J.S. Giguere and Paul Kariya. As a fan of growing the sport of hockey in Southern California, she is one of the few people who actively roots for both the Ducks and the Kings. You can find her on Instagram at @emmaaajay or at a local sports bar mourning the bad luck of her favorite teams.

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