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DUCK REPORT

Extra Time Needs Some Extra Effort

November 23, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

This is less about overtime than it is about workers' compensation for the Mighty Ducks. The Ducks, and their coach, say they are not working in overtime, so they are not being compensated with victories.

The Ducks have gone to overtime in six of their last eight games and have lost four of those games. Their five overtime losses this season are the most in the NHL.

A little more than one-fourth into the season, the Ducks are already more than halfway to the most overtime losses since the NHL went to a four-on-four format, with a losing team being award one point, in 1999-2000.

"In the players' minds, it's 'OK, we got a point,' " Coach Mike Babcock said after Friday's 4-3 overtime loss to Nashville. "This team is in our conference. This is your building. This is our house. We had won three in a row at home coming in here. We're trying to build something and now we've got five days off and we've got this to swallow. It's up to us to fix it."

The Ducks seem well-suited for the four-on-four format with such high-end offensive players as Sergei Fedorov, Petr Sykora, Vaclav Prospal, Sandis Ozolinsh, Andy McDonald and Stanislav Chistov, all of whom have speed and skating skills that should make them more effective with more open ice to work in.

Yet the Ducks have been unable to generate much offense in the extra five minutes. Against Dallas on Wednesday, the Ducks had a power play for the final 1 minute 24 seconds of overtime and did not get a shot on goal.

"We have some people here who can score," defenseman Ruslan Salei said. "But I think we're all kind of waiting for someone else to do it. We've got to start making something happen. When we get to overtime, we've got to play more desperate."

This, some players see, is a symptom of a much bigger problem. The Ducks have meandered through the season thus far. They have let third-period leads slip away in three of their five overtime losses. In one other overtime loss, they lost a lead late in the second period.

"Overtime is just carrying over from the reason why we're not winning -- we're not playing good hockey," team captain Steve Rucchin said after the Ducks lost a lead against Nashville with four minutes left in regulation.

"There was no reason to be giving up the tying goal. We were pretty passive and it's just carrying over to overtime. There's not a lot of life out there. It's definitely inexcusable. It's definitely got to stop."

Getting the point in overtime Friday did put the Ducks back atop the Pacific Division. It was the second time in less than a week they moved into first place after losing an overtime game.

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The Ducks have struggled to kill penalties in recent games, but that may be because their penalty killing units are overwhelmed.

The Ducks had the third fewest penalty minutes in the NHL last season but gave Nashville eight power plays Friday and Dallas seven on Wednesday. The Ducks allowed two power-play goals in each game. They ranked second in penalty killing last season but are 21st this season.

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ADDED WORK

The Ducks currently have five overtime losses. A look at the most regular-season overtime losses* in a season:

*--* Florida 9 2000-01 Edmonton 9 2002-03 Minnesota 9 2001-02 Montreal 9 2002-03 Boston 9 2001-02 Florida 9 2002-03 * Since 1999-2000 when NHL went to four-on-four overtime format

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