Ducks waddle along

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

ANAHEIM -- The Anaheim Ducks woke up yesterday morning staring an unofficial NHL record right in the face: Fastest team to hit rock bottom.

It doesn't even seem possible that a club could be that low just three games into the season, but the Ducks were equal part dire and dour when they rolled up their sleeves and tried to shake off the stink of an 0-3 start last night against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.

"We have to right the ship and turn it around," said Anaheim defenceman Chris Pronger, adding they have a long way to go to repair the early damage. "Not only our game, but our effort and our discipline. Our team play is lackadaisical and inept right now, that's the most concerning thing.

"I think we're all searching for the answers right now and we're not coming up with anything other than this is a large wake-up call."

BADLY OUTSCORED

Outscored 14-6 (4-1, 4-2 and 6-3 Tuesday night against Los Angeles) in their first three starts, the bewildered Ducks were already in a desperate situation - eight points behind division leading San Jose - when they hit the ice last night.

The season is barely a week old and they've already been forced into a game of catch up.

"It's probably a little early, but having said that you can fall out of it really quick," said Pronger. "We've seen it happen to a number of teams over the years - get off to poor starts and it's an uphill battle the whole year, which is very taxing. Three games can easily turn into eight, nine, 10."

The Ducks, who also stumbled out of the gate last year, have become slow starters since their Stanley Cup championship two years ago. Only last year they started the year without Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer, who were taking a few months off to contemplate retirement. This time both veterans were here from the start of training camp and there are no excuses for the early malaise.

"It's a frustration from a coaching standpoint, we feel we can play to a much higher level than we've played," said head coach Randy Carlyle. "We worked hard in training camp, but it seems like once the regular season started we haven't been able to elevate our game to the intensity required. We do it for stretches in a game, but we don't do it for 60 minutes. That has to change."

PENALTY PRONE

Special teams and discipline have also been sucking the life out of the Ducks. They were short-handed a whopping 21 times in their first three starts (allowing six goals) and whiffed on their first 11 power plays of the season.

"The biggest thing is we're not initiating, we're reacting to a lot of the plays out on the ice right now, and that's when you get the penalties called," said Pronger. "If you're initiating, more often than not the opposing team needs to react. That's not the case right now and that's part of the problem.

"We're a little shocked with the way we've all played. I don't think there's been one guy who's played any good in all three games. Our fourth line has been our best line in virtually all three games. That's great for them, but it doesn't say much for our other three lines or our other sets of defence."

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THREE STARS

1. MATHIEU GARON, EDM

Helped Edmonton weather an early storm, keeping them in the game long enough to get their legs going.

2. DENIS GREBESHKOV

Logged major minutes in all three situations and upped his point total to three in two games.

3. FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN

A workhorse for the Ducks, he was out there almost every second shift.

WHY THEY WON

Got great goaltending to stay in it early, then turned on the jets, showing off their fitness in the third period.

PLAY OF THE DAY

Lubomir Visnovsky simply throws one at the net - like head coach Craig MacTavish has been pleading with his players to do - and it went in, putting Edmonton up 3-2 in the third period.

DUCK OF NIGHT

George Parros wanted no part of Edmonton's new enforcer Steve MacIntyre. MacIntyre tried to get it going on a couple of occasions, but each time Parros pretended he couldn't understand English.


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