Is defense the problem in Anaheim? Who’s the better goaltender?
The Ducks have been losing a lot this year, and the team that was thought to have to epic backstops has been giving up a lot of goals. Both Hiller and Jiggy-Giguere have proven their ability in playoffs past, and Pacific Hockey isn’t sure they’re to blame for the Ducks bad first half.
Currently the Ducks sit at a middle-of-the-pack 17th in goals per game. They’re 7th in power-play efficiency, but 24th on the PK. Something you haven’t seen in years past with the blueline presence of Neidermayer and Pronger, is a shots-against average of 32.7 for 28th place in the league, and a 26th place 3.17 goals-against average. Guess who has the worst plus/minus rating on the Ducks? Scott Niedermayer at -13.
We wouldn’t even know about Hiller yet if it weren’t for an unfortunate year for Jean-Sebastien last season, including both personal and professional losses, but everyone was looking to see a real bounce-back year from him, especially after his ultimatum earlier this year that “he would rather retire than play as a backup”. But has he really been able to “back-up” that statement?
The numbers are just barely in Hiller’s favor.
On a poll today on the Ducks blog, they ask “Who should the Ducks trade first?”.. The top result as of this writing? Scott Neidermayer. The Ducks defense corp is giving up so many goals this year in-fact, that the highest plus/minus of any defenseman on the team is Sheldon Brookbank with a rating of +2. The only other with a positive ranking is James Wisniewski at +1. A little something to bring this to light? Currently with the Philadelphia Flyers, a team going through much turmoil and struggling to win games only and who are only 2 points ahead of the Ducks in league standings, is Chris Pronger with a current plus/minus of +11 along with his linemate Matt Carle at +12.
So, did the Ducks trade away their bacon over the summer? Surely if Neidermayer hadn’t opted to re-sign they’d have kept Chris Pronger. And the Ducks are going to have a hard time getting better defensemen for worse defensemen, so which forward do they use to bait a team for a D-Man? That’s a question Ducks GM Bob Murray is going to have to find an answer for pretty soon, or the Ducks are looking to miss the playoffs.