Anaheim, CA – The amazing way to peer into the sky John KlingbergAdd to ducks It was that the defensive player would rack up points and chew on a lot of minutes as the team pushed forward all the way to the playoffs, which led Klingberg to consider Anaheim as a potential long-term territory.
The truth is, very little of that has happened, and most likely never will. Klingberg plays a lot of minutes – averaging 23:40, his second most on the team and the most in four years. But the Ducks finish last in the Pacific Division with the worst goal difference in the league. He’s not putting up a bunch of points, his advanced metrics are so poor it’s hard to see an outcome other than dealing with him before the March 3rd trading deadline.
The next three and a half months will be about building his value. Eye and numbers testing don’t expect Anaheim to push an unlikely arrangement, because the team is already running out of the way to take a turn. surely, Saint Louis He did it four years ago in his worst race, but the Blues, too We are not going to achieve a record number of permitted goals.
The first month of work didn’t go the way the Ducks or Klingberg had imagined after they came together on a one-year, $7 million contract after Klingberg’s mishandled free agency invasion over the summer. He has seven assists to lead the Anaheim blue line, but his 0.50 points per game is well below his career average of 0.67. He has a -6 rating in traditional stats while he has a Corsi-rated 45.67 fumble per natural trick stat and has been on the ice for a high-risk 95 chances against the team.
Giving a positive spin to all of this is quite the project. But Kellenberg did his best to evaluate it.
“I think I struggled to get started,” said the 30-year-old Swede. the athlete After a day skiing Tuesday morning. “I did. Both in camp and the first few games. But the last 8-10 games I’ve felt a lot better. I feel like I’m moving a lot better. I feel more comfortable reading my teammates and other things like that.
“At the same time, I can play better. The team can play better. And that goes hand in hand. It’s still something we’re building on. I feel like my game has at least gotten better and better. There’s clearly more to ask offensively.”
That insult he has long been known for came just in time on Tuesday against him Detroit. Work with additional attacker like John Gibson He was benched in Anaheim, and faced with the reality of a winless home run, Klingberg caught a pass from Cam Fowler He patiently searched for his shooting lane to aim and do what he does best. The shot didn’t just weave through traffic to the Detroit goaltender Phil Hosso But he slid his left board past the goalie to tie the game with 46.2 seconds left.
The duck won Ryan Stromextra time goal, but none of it would have happened without Klingberg’s contribution. His first goal of the season topped the night the Ducks were expecting when he pulled off some shock signing a player who had surpassed 40 points on six occasions. He’s a player they haven’t seen much of until Tuesday night.
“A goal like this makes a lot happen,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “The reality is, it’s really easy for coaches and parents and agents to say to a player, ‘Hey, keep it up. Don’t lose faith. Everything’s working out.’ But as a player, you start to question your ability. Like, can I put him in? Grid again? What’s going on here?’ For him to score such a big goal for us tonight, it would definitely be a great reminder that he can be one of the elite defensemen in this league.
“Kling is just a very competitive kid. He always has a little fire in his stomach. I think that goal would be great for him personally. It was obviously huge for our team.”
The goal was important, but Klingberg had been playing an effective game before that. His ninth shot attempt of the night was right and that’s what the Ducks were keen to see, a defender with a knack for taking chances in the attacking zone and putting pucks towards the net. He had three shot attempts blocked and three fouled into the net, but he was a busy and dangerous fourth striker.
“I need to shoot more pucks,” Klingberg said, still a little frustrated that he never landed more than three shots on Hosoe. “I need to spend more time in the o-zone. I need to be more involved in the offense. That’s my game. … I think if I play hard defensively and constantly take the puck out and spend more time in the o-zone, that’s where you have to take over.” It’s my game.”
Anaheim’s last two matches have been more suited to his game. Finally, the Ducks ran contests in which he spent far more time on the offensive end than on his own. Klingberg responded. Natural Stat Trick gave him 26 scoring opportunities for and only 10 against Chicago and Detroit. The CF% for the two competitions was 70.59. It appears that the physical and defensive mind Simon Benoit Can be a match as a fixed defense partner.
Chicago and Detroit are not among them NHLelite. But it’s the beginning of someone trying to make up for what was lost when he reportedly turned down an eight-year, $58 million contract to stay with him dallas, the team he became a regular fixture with, resulting in him wading rougher than expected in the waters of free agency. It’s fair to wonder if the pressure to perform with an eye on his next contract is weighing on him as the season begins.
There’s also the element of change – especially after being in one place for eight years.
“When you’re in a place for a long time, everyone kind of learns to stay away from you,” Eakins said. “And now, when you come to a new place, you have to learn to shake them off. I think that’s part of it. The other part is when you move on, you have to develop new habits. You can’t continue to be who you were somewhere else. I know he’s trying.” strive to do so.
“The greatest thing about him is that he really cares. He’s a really proud guy. He wants to make an impact and he’s competitive. Those are all great, great traits. But we really want him to just focus on his job, the simplicity. Along with all those other great traits that he has.” owns it.”
Simplicity may be the key. It’s something Ken Hitchcock touches on as the Ducks try to get the best version of Klingberg, even if it’s mostly to build his commercial value. Klingberg had his career-best 67-point season with the Stars under Hitchcock in 2017-18.
“I only know when he was with us in Dallas that Rick Wilson and I saw a lot of Sergey Zubov in him,” Hitchcock said. the athlete. “And we felt that if we could get John to play big minutes and play conservatively, that when he’s in the attacking area, he can be creative. But we wanted him to play very conservatively in the outs and on the counters when he was checked. We didn’t want him to force the puck.” And then when he was in the offensive zone, he had the full green light to do what he was doing, and he always did it well.
Rick Wilson used that term, move the puck around people instead of people. And John convinced us if he played conservatively, he could play more than 25 minutes and he could do the things he does well. There were no restrictions on what he did in the attacking area. Just let him out. And let him play. We worked hard with him moving the puck around people. Getting it out of trouble quickly. Getting it in, directing it very quickly. Not overdoing anything. Not overdoing anything. And then there’s no strings attached when he was in the offensive blue line. “.
It was a big change for Klingberg. There were coaching changes during his eight-year stay in Dallas and the all-star roster did not remain stable during that time. Anaheim represented another revolution, even if it was his choice. New coaches. new colleagues. new system. New facilities. new home. And change like that is important.
“I think it’s huge,” Hitchcock said. And that is why looking at who he played with, where you come from and finding someone similar to him is important. There is a lot of automaticity in the game of John and he and Issa Lindell They were such an adorable pair together as they read each other on Automatic.
“We messed around the whole time with Zuboff and then finally found him and (Daryl) Sidor reading each other perfectly. We kept it together for five years.”
Is dealing with this kind of change overlooked when a player is struggling with their new team?
“I don’t know,” Klingberg said. “It’s my first time doing this. It’s definitely different because obviously in the last eight years before that, I’ve been coming up with something that I know how to work. Even if we have new coaches there as well, you still know your teammates and the organization and all that. It’s a small change. But I wouldn’t say it slowed me down too much. Maybe a little bit at the beginning of camp and the first few matches.
“Like I said, I feel like I’m moving better there now. I feel like I want to be more involved in things on the ice and things like that. Yeah, there are some situations where you can ask for more. It’s always like that. You just have to build on your game.”
After recording two assists in his debut, Klingberg went eight games without a point and earned a -8 rating. Now, he has six points in his last seven games. Late Tuesday night, Strom joked that the defender produced a Michael Jordan-like effort due to an illness that kept him out of Monday’s training. “I’ll call it John Klingberg’s Flu Game,” said the Duck Social Center.
Getting more serious, Strom said his teammate’s risky game could give way to easy criticism. “We have to do a better job of finding open ice because it has this ability to hit you,” Strom said. In other words, the Ducks need to read Klingberg as well as where their teammates are and what they’re going to do.
“He’s been on the same team for eight years,” Strom said. “You play with the same core group of players and you come into a team that is trying to find its way and trying to build an identity and trying to establish. A guy like him might take some time to get comfortable.
“Listen, he’s doing a lot of good things. Obviously everyone wants to see the offense but I think he’s a leader. I think he works hard. He’s a good example. Hopefully the points keep piling up for him.”
In the morning, the outspoken Klingberg was upfront about his goals, As it was during training camp. “Do I want to be a point-per-game player?” He said. “Yeah sure. Do I want the team to win? Yeah sure. It just doesn’t work like that. It grinds. Every team is really good. It’s something you have to work on every single day.”
The goal is for the Ducks to have the best version of the defenseman for the duration of his stay with them. His former coach thinks he’ll get there.
“John is too good a player to bounce around here,” said Hitchcock. “He has great vision and great talent. He’s a competitive son of a gun. He’ll figure it out.”
It will benefit everyone involved when he does. Tuesday’s tournaments may be the beginning.
(Top photo by John Kellenberg: Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today)