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Ducks' Spark of Hope in First Half Horror

      If you had told the Anaheim Ducks coming out of training camp that come the half point of the season, they would be the second worst team in the entire NHL, you would probably have been met with a lot of doubtful reactions. However, the Ducks have reached the exact midpoint of their season and find themselves in just that position: second to last. Over those 41 games, the Ducks have collected 32 points and have celebrated a mere total of 13 wins. If there is a bright spot to be found among those numbers, it is the fact that 3 of those 13 wins have come about during this modest 3-game winning streak that the Ducks have put together over the past weekend, and in offensive fashion as well.  Here are a few of the things that the Ducks will probably have to do in order to have a much better second half.

        The Ducks have got to score more to win more and it has got to start with their big guns.  The recently reunited top line of Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan (affectionately referred to as RPG) have a combined total cap hit of about $15.75 million, but their play this season has left much more to be desired.  On a top heavy and budget strapped team like the Ducks, the guys taking home the big paychecks have got to be the guys putting pucks in the back of the net.  Corey Perry has been the best of the top 3, scoring 35 points so far, but the star on the Ducks this season has been none other than Teemu Selanne, who leads the team with 41 points at 41 years old.  While scoring has been a bit of a struggle for Anaheim, you wouldn't have known it if you watched them play their last three games, where they managed to light the lamp 16 times in that span.  Whether they can keep up their scoring ways or not, we will find out, but it will require everyone to step up, not just the stars.

        Depth is probably one of the biggest issues facing the Ducks this year.  As a result, opponents have had an easy time keying in on the bigger threats to shut them down.  There have been a few tweaks here and there to the lineup as the Ducks try to find the right combination.  JF Jacques has been brought up from the AHL a couple times in response to losing George Parros to various injuries, but suspensions for poor decisions have often followed for Jacques; Devante Smith-Pelley was showing promise until he sustained a leg injury during the World Juniors; minor trades have been made that included bringing Rod Pelley in from New Jersey.  Regardless of the moves, nothing has really yielded much results, suggesting that maybe mroe drastic moves need to be made.  One good note in the bottom six is that prospects Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri have been brought up to gain some NHL experience, which could pay dividends in the future.  Bottom line is that depth is a point where the Ducks are sorely lacking, but is crucial to long term success.

        It is hard to pinpoint one problem on this team to place blame; losing has certainly been done by committee.  Team defense has been poor, goaltending has been average, and scoring has been low.  This seems all negative, but there may be a spark of hope in the midst of chaos.  The offense exploded onto the rink this past weekend and there seemed to be a bit more luck on the Ducks side.  There is an injury issue in the crease, however.  Ellis is battling a groin injury again and is expected to be out for the next few weeks and, even though Hiller will be dressed for the game in Calgary, he did miss the game on Sunday due to an undisclosed lower body injury leading to the juggling of goaltenders and some quick call-ups.  All in all, with the playoffs just an unlikely possibility at this halfway point in the season, it will be interesting to see what the Ducks do in the second half.

      The Ducks will be looking for their fourth straight win (which would match their longest winning streak back in the beginning of the season) tonight against the Flames in Calgary shortly.

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