Ducks blame themselves for ‘stupid penalties’ in Game 2 loss

ANAHEIM — The best analysis of the Anaheim Ducks behavior in the 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators came from one of the youngest members of the team.

“I think it’s [the Predators] getting under our skin and out working us, and us not being ready and prepared,” said 22-year-old Hampus Lindholm after the game. “You’re never going to win championships and playoff games if you sit in the box all night … If they come on a 2-on-1 and you hook them down, you save a goal; that’s a penalty that we accept, but slashing, being stupid, you can’t do that in the playoffs. It really hurt us tonight.”

In total, the Ducks were called for six penalties: three for hooking, two for interference, and one unsportsmanlike conduct.

It wasn’t that Nashville took the power play opportunities and ran with them; scoring only once with the man advantage. It was the fact the Ducks lost their s— during the game, and the Predators reveled in it.

“… we didn’t get any power plays because we’re doing stupid stuff, and they’re smiling and having a good old time; not the referees, Nashville,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “They’re not going to give us a break. Quite frankly, we don’t deserve a break if we’re going to be yelling at them and being stupid all night long.”

One of those doing the yelling was Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. When asked what had him all worked up, Getzlaf became (ironically) quiet, and said, “Nothing. There were some things out there that I didn’t agree with. That’s all … We took a few bad penalties. Can’t fault the refs, they were penalties … We’re trying to make things happen; trying to do things. It gets frustrating at times.”

Getzlaf was whistled for a hooking penalty in the first period, and should be thankful the officials gave him plenty of leeway to express himself without repercussions. 

The frustration led to the Ducks losing defensive assignments, and an inability to create a forecheck that had served them so well since Christmas break. As the game went on, they became so focused on the injustices on the ice they forgot to play the game itself with a few small exceptions.

The overt emotion has been a hallmark of a Ducks team throughout the tenures of Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Boudreau speaks in generalities, but it’s not difficult to assume he’s pointing a finger at his two star forwards.

“We talk about this on a constant, constant basis. It was one of the keys of the game: controlled emotion. Initiate, don’t retaliate,” said Boudreau. “And yet they get so wound up it seems like they lose track of what’s going on around them.”

After two difficult games in Anaheim, the Ducks are down 2-0 to the Predators as the series shifts to Nashville.

Always the optimist, Boudreau believes it’s not time to hit the panic button just yet. “The one thing about this team is their resiliency. We’ve gone through some really tough times this year. This is no different. It was just two years ago we lost the first two games at home against LA and went in there and won two. It’s not an impossible thing to do.”

Getzlaf echoed his sentiments, “We’ve been doing things the hard way all season long.”

True. However, the Ducks don’t have the luxury of 40-plus games to dig themselves out of the hole they’ve put themselves into this time.