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HELENE ELLIOTT

Ducks' downward spiral continues in loss to Maple Leafs

Anaheim's winless streak reaches seven games with a 5-2 loss to Toronto. Team isn't ready to panic yet.

November 27, 2011|Helene Elliott
  • Anaheim's Andrew Gordon (41) tries to control the puck as he's pursued by Toronto's Jay Rosehill in the first period Sunday night at Honda Center.
Anaheim's Andrew Gordon (41) tries to control the puck as he's… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

Less is more for the Ducks these days: hapless, rudderless, clueless, and now winless in seven games.

Their 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday at Honda Center was as confounding as any of their 16 defeats in their last 18 games. "We just seem to be dead between the ears," Coach Randy Carlyle said.

The Ducks scored first, on a power-play blast by Francois Beauchemin, but Toronto scored the next four, striking twice in 19 seconds in the first period on a poorly defended power play and a deflection off the stick of Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa.

As Toronto piled it on — a deflection by Joey Crabb at 2:36 of the second period, a rebound by Tyler Bozak of a Phil Kessel shot 47 seconds into the third period — the Ducks sagged. Corey Perry scored for the third straight game on a close-in shot at 5:38 of the third period, but the Ducks exerted little pressure after that and Luke Schenn capped the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:48.

The Maple Leafs, rebuilt nicely by General Manager Brian Burke — who scripted the Ducks' 2007 Stanley Cup championship — passed Boston to sit atop the Northeast Division. The Ducks continued to spiral downward.

"It's very obvious that we're not playing the way we have to as a team. We're not executing," veteran center Saku Koivu said.

Even the usually upbeat Teemu Selanne couldn't hide his frustration.

"There's no mental toughness right now," he said, and he was right.

"There's been a lot of talking. A lot of meetings. There's really no answer. It seems to me that nothing works. When things go bad they really go bad.

"You try to stay positive and find some bright sides, but I don't really see any bright sides. It's unbelievable. I have no answers."

Selanne insisted Carlyle has 100% support in the locker room, but there's a gap between what players hear and what they do on the ice. Team captain Ryan Getzlaf should be the primary link between Carlyle and the team and should lead by example if not by words, but he has been so consumed by his own struggles that Carlyle told him to step back and take less responsibility for now.

"He's trying to wear the weight of that captaincy. These are the times when it becomes very, very heavy," Carlyle said of Getzlaf, who is minus-13 defensively and has only four goals and 16 points in 23 games.

"And my conversations with him are based upon [that] we as a coaching staff think he should just focus on playing hockey. Anything else should be a sidebar, be it any little integral part that the captain is normally responsible for, leave that up to us. Focus totally on what you can control, and can control his level of play, his work ethic and get back to the player we know he can be."

Getzlaf is far from the dominant center who scored 91 points in 2008-09. Or 76 points in 67 games last season. "He's not the player and he shows it and demonstrates it and he's very frustrated with himself," Carlyle said.

General Manager Bob Murray hasn't panicked. He has said he won't dismiss Carlyle and he hasn't traded any of his big three forwards — Getzlaf, Perry or Bobby Ryan — though he has had offers. "Management has been so patient and that's what a team hopes. It's tough for everybody," Selanne said.

"The leaders try to do as good job as we can. And still the leadership in this room has to do that out there," he said, pointing to the ice. "I hate to say this, but they should not be talking anymore here. We all know what to do. Just show it there. It's very simple."

Talk less, win more.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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