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Bolstering Offense May Have to Wait

January 02, 2002|Chris Foster

The problem is easy to understand. The Mighty Ducks don't score enough goals.

Solving the problem, that's the trick and may well have to wait until next summer.

The Ducks have been solid on defense and their goalies have been exceptional in the last month. But they have scored 90 goals this season. Only four teams have scored fewer.

"We have identified that," Coach Bryan Murray said. "[General Manager] Pierre [Gauthier] and I have talked about that regularly. They are very difficult to come by at this point."

The Ducks have gone the trade route this season, picking up Sergei Krivokrasov and Patric Kjellberg to play on the third line.

The Ducks are barren offensively, yet Krivokrasov has been a healthy scratch for eight games, which may say something about his overall game. Kjellberg skates on the first line, but has three goals and six points in 29 games with the Ducks.

The summer, when some teams find solutions, would seem the best bet. Gauthier is on the hot seat to turn the franchise around. That may depend on whether he is willing, or allowed, to spend money, and then spend it wisely.

German Titov was suppose to provide offense when he was given a three-year, $4.6-million contract before last season. He has 13 goals and 28 points in 101 games as a Duck.

The need for offense is vital.

"Are we looking for another goal scorer? Of course," Murray said.

The search within has pretty much been exhausted.

* Draft picks Timo Parssinen and Jonas Ronnqvist were pitched as Europe-to-the-NHL possibilities. Both are buried at minor Cincinnati.

* Free agent Andy McDonald has shown promise, but is just a rookie.

* Marty McInnis, given a three-year contract last season, can be found on the third line, goal-less in the last 12 games.

* Steve Rucchin is enduring another season watching games after ankle surgery.

Even Paul Kariya, their flagship scorer, has struggled. He is on pace for a 58-point season in the first full season without Teemu Selanne since 1995-96.

"As a coach, I'm always saying, 'If we can get just one more guy,"' Murray said. "I'll be saying that after we get one more guy.

"We have played hard and very disciplined and looked after the defensive zone for the most part. That's the first stages of getting the franchise and the team turned around a little bit. The next step is obviously to score some goals and win some games on a more consistent basis."


at Detroit, 5 p.m.


Site--Joe Louis Arena.

Radio--XTRA (690).

Records--Ducks 13-21-5-3, Red Wings 28-8-3-2.

Record vs. Red Wings--0-1.

Update--Red Wing center Steve Yzerman has missed the last two games with a bruised left leg. Duck defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski, out three games with a sprained ankle, will not play tonight, Coach Bryan Murray said. Steve Shields will start in goal for the Ducks.

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