The Pacific Division is a tire fire. This isn't actually all that surprising – what is surprising is who's started the fire. Best known for starting the NHL mumps outbreak and having the cheapest tickets in the league, the Anaheim Ducks haven't so much stumbled out of the gate as they've been shot several times and then bound to the gate. Let's look at the standings.
So that's the Arizona Coyotes at the top of the Pacific. Right, the favorites for Auston Matthews at the beginning of the season have Mike Smith'd their way straight to first place. Yay and or whoops? The Kings and Sharks aren't a surprise, while the Canucks are hanging around in that upper echelon (a bit surprising).
The Oilers being mediocre is as sure a thing as the sun rising every day and then...there are the Ducks. Oh, and the Flames, but them being bad isn't a huge surprise, either. We'll look at some of the Ducks underlying numbers shortly, but first, let's look at some of the fun numbers.
- Anaheim has been shut out five times. They were shut out just four times last season.
- This is the second lowest goal total over a team's first eight games since the 1927-28 and 1928-29 Pittsburgh Pirates. Forward passing in the offensive zone wasn't allowed at the time.
- Jaromir Jagr has the same number of goals through eight games as the Ducks.
- Frederik Andersen has posted a .940 save percentage and hasn't recorded a win.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Are the Ducks historically bad or unlucky? Well...
There are the Ducks, No. 16 in the league in terms of even strength, score-adjusted corsi for percentage. Playing just about dead even hockey should at least get them in the neighborhood of an even goal differential, until you look over at their PDO... which is a sterling 95.3 It's not their .930 goaltending that's keeping their PDO 4.7 away from 100 — it's their 2.3 shooting percentage.
For perspective, here is a table of the worst shooting percentages in 5v5 play the past 10 years.
The 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres have the highest shooting percentage over a single season in that time at 12 percent. Not bad.
Anywho, small sample size obviously but the Ducks haven't just been run-of-the-mill unlucky in terms of shooting percentage, they've been exceptionally unlucky. Bruce Boudreau wouldn't be the first coach fired because his team hit an elongated stretch of bad luck, and I'll have you know I've already purchased by ticket to the Ducks Should Hire Randy Carlyle bandwagon.
By the way, the Coyotes? They're 24th in the league in CF% and are riding .949 goaltending right now. The bad news for Arizona fans is this stretch won't last, the worse news is it might take them out of the running for Matthews completely. At least the weather is nice this time of year.