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Losses mount for the Ducks

Oilers' 3-2 win leaves Anaheim with an 0-4 record as many of its former players prosper.

October 16, 2008|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

Granted, it's just four games into their season, but the Ducks have to be wondering where their offense has gone.

How about Calgary, St. Louis, New York, Edmonton and Des Moines?

And their defense?

Take a look in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

That's where a starting lineup full of recently departed Ducks has landed after being traded, let go or lured away. In each case, the player has helped their new team to a better start than the Ducks, who lost their fourth consecutive game to start the season Wednesday night, this time to the Edmonton Oilers, 3-2, in front of 16,604 fans at the Honda Center, ending a streak of 78 consecutive sellouts.

At this point, the Ducks might be wondering if this is the season that got away.

Offensively, they came in ranked 27th out of 30 teams in average goals scored (2.00), and the only team in the league without a power-play goal, a distinction they also continued against the Oilers. The Ducks' top three point producers from last season, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Chris Kunitz, went scoreless and still have just one assist between them.

"We've just got to keep playing," Perry said. "We've got to keep plugging and eventually it's going to come."

In the past, the defense would come to the rescue when the offense faltered, but the Ducks came in ranked 29th in average goals against (4.67), tied for the most power-play goals allowed and leading the league in minor penalties and penalty minutes, a category they've led the previous two seasons. They cleaned up their act against Edmonton, committing four minor penalties, but the final one led to the game-winning goal early in the third period by former Kings defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky.

What has to make the slow start even more painful for management is the list of former Ducks who are off to strong starts elsewhere.

Todd Bertuzzi, who was bought out of his contract after one season in Anaheim, scored two goals on four shots Tuesday night to lift the Calgary Flames to a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Bertuzzi has three goals in three games, a mark he didn't reach until the 19th game last season.

Andy McDonald, traded to St. Louis last December to bring in less-expensive forward Doug Weight so the Ducks could make room under the salary camp to sign Scott Niedermayer, has six assists in the first three games. He has formed a nice combination with another ex-Duck, Paul Kariya, who also has six points. Weight has a goal and two assists to lead the Islanders in scoring.

Edmonton right wing Dustin Penner scored two goals in the Oilers' season-opening victory Sunday against the Avalanche. The Ducks were unable to match a restricted free-agent offer sheet two summers ago because it would have put them over the salary cap, and Ducks General Manager Brian Burke publicly lashed out at his Edmonton counterpart for over-inflating Penner's value.

And then there's Bobby Ryan, the organization's top prospect who has been playing at the team's minor league affiliate in Iowa because the Ducks couldn't afford to keep him out of training camp because of salary-cap restrictions.

Defensively, ex-Ducks Mathieu Schneider of the Atlanta Thrashers, Sean O'Donnell of the Kings and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov of Phoenix have helped their new teams earn at least one victory, something that has eluded the Ducks.

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dan.arritt@latimes.com

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