ANAHEIM -- Enough talking.
After the Ducks lost for the 13th time in their last 14 games Sunday night, veteran forward Teemu Selanne had heard enough. There’s only one place the Ducks can fix their broken wings.
“Out there, there’s the answer,” said the 41-year-old right wing, pointing out the door of the dressing room toward the Honda Center ice, where the Ducks had just lost, 5-2, against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
Second to last in the league in scoring coming into the game, 23rd in goals against and 19th on the power play, the issues are complicated and far-reaching. Selanne insisted the downfall has nothing to do with coaching, team leadership or the offensive and defensive systems in place. It’s all in their heads.
“There’s no mental toughness right now,” he said.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle agreed that the team’s issues seem to stem from the neck up.
“We just seem to be dead between the ears,” he said. “We’re not thinking, we’re not reading and then it seems we pile on extra work for ourselves from our lack of execution.”
The Ducks followed their recent script by grabbing a 1-0 lead midway through the first period, then giving plenty back. The Maple Leafs tied the score a little more than four minutes later and then moved ahead for good 19 seconds after that. Another goal in the second period and two more in the fourth prompted what was left of the crowd to unleash a chorus of boos as the players left the ice.
“One bad play and now it’s like a sinking boat,” Selanne said. “They’re physical mistakes first, but then the mental issues start because everybody’s head goes down and you almost expect the worst to happen.”
The Ducks, 14th out of 15 teams in the West, are running out of time to right the ship.
“At this point, we can’t think for a second that there are enough games to get back,” said Saku Koivu. “We’ve got to figure out what’s causing this and how we can turn it around.”
From an organizational standpoint, Carlyle said any acceptance of losing would be intolerable.
“That will never happen, as far as acceptance of what is happening right now,” he said.
Carlyle then made the slow walk back to his office, where he undoubtedly spent another long night trying to put a finger on his team’s collapse.
It won’t get any easier this week, as the Montreal Canadiens, who are going through their own rough stretch, are scheduled to pay a visit Wednesday.
“You try to stay positive and find some bright sides, but I don’t really see any bright sides,” Selanne said. “It’s just unbelievable right now.”
Unbelievable, but definitely real.