Jean-Sebastien Giguere, whose goaltending in 2003 brought him the Conn Smythe Trophy and in 2007 brought the Ducks their first Stanley Cup title, has an answer to what's wrong this season.
"If this team wants to move forward, goaltending is going to have to be better," said Giguere, who is 0-3-2 with a fat 3.38 goals-against average. "We'll have to try to give the team a better chance to win every night."
The Ducks begin a seven-game homestand tonight against Tampa Bay with many areas to correct. Through Tuesday's games, the Ducks (6-10-3) ranked 28th in the NHL in goals given up and in penalty killing.
Neither Giguere nor fellow goaltender Jonas Hiller distinguished himself on the Ducks' 0-3-1 trip last week. Giguere returned to the ice for the first time last week against Columbus since aggravating a groin injury Oct. 24, and finished with 27 saves in a 3-2 shootout loss. He then stopped 21 of 25 shots in the Ducks' 5-2 loss Monday to Pittsburgh.
Hiller, who has a 6-7-1 record with a 3.03 goals-against average, made 22 saves in a 5-2 loss to New Jersey last week and 30 saves in a 7-4 loss Saturday to Detroit.
Still, Coach Randy Carlyle suggested it is unfair to single out the goaltending for the Ducks' poor play. The Ducks offensively are in the middle of the pack at 16th in goals (2.79) and power-play efficiency (18.9%).
"Our team play was up and down," Carlyle said. "We played some stretches where we were OK in the hockey game and then we find a way to let the other team get back into it."
Nonetheless, Giguere and Hiller say their improved play can only help turn around what has become a disastrous start.
"Goaltending can win you games even if you don't play that well," Hiller said. "If we can provide solid goaltending, there's definitely a chance to win."
He's ready for Tampa Bay
Winger Evgeny Artyukhin acknowledged he's treating the Tampa Bay matchup differently.
"I'm very excited," said Artyukhin, who the Ducks acquired from Tampa Bay in the off-season for left wing Drew Miller and a third-round selection in the 2010 draft.
Although he said he left Tampa Bay on good terms, Artyukhin acknowledged there was a contract dispute with the Lightning after the 2006-07 season that spurred him to sign with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, a professional team in Russia.
Artyukhin, a Moscow native, played for HC CSKA Moscow the following season before rejoining Tampa Bay for the 2008-09 campaign.
"I wanted to stay home and play there a little bit," Artyukhin said. "I missed my family, so I decided to stay with Russia."
After putting centers Saku Koivu (groin) and Ryan Carter (foot) on injured reserve, the Ducks recalled center MacGregor Sharp from Bakersfield of the ECHL.
A team spokesman said Koivu's and Carter's moves are retroactive and they could still play tonight if healthy. Koivu practiced Wednesday, but Carter sat out.