The Anaheim Ducks were dominant in winning their first Stanley Cup last season. Right now, they're having trouble simply stopping the puck.
Having pulled their starting goalie in both of the last two games, the Ducks will look to improve their defense at home Friday when they meet the Pacific Division rival San Jose Sharks.
The Ducks (6-8-3) have lost two straight and four of five at home, a troubling prospect for a team that went 10-2 at the Honda Center in the playoffs last year.
"We're a fragile team right now," defenseman Mathieu Schneider said.
In a 6-5 overtime loss to Phoenix Wednesday, Ilya Bryzgalov didn't make it through the second period, allowing four goals on 18 shots. He was replaced by Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who had been equally ineffective Monday, when he was pulled after two periods having allowed four goals on 19 shots to Dallas in a 5-0 loss.
Giguere couldn't turn things around against Phoenix, allowing two goals. The one in overtime came off a brutal turnover by Anaheim when Corey Perry collided with teammate Francois Beauchemin as he tried to pull the puck into the Ducks' zone. It was especially frustrating for the Ducks, considering they had battled back from 4-2 and 5-4 deficits.
"We're just not sharp in our own end," defenseman Chris Pronger said. "We're allowing bad turnovers and not playing our positions, and it's costing us at times with either bad goals or untimely goals."
Schneider, who has six points in four games since returning from a broken ankle, has been a bright spot in his first season with Anaheim.
"We've got a lot of new faces and we don't have the same makeup as we had last year," Pronger added. "It's a work in progress and it's going to take time, but we've got to continue to push forward and not let this bother us."
Things haven't been going much better for San Jose (7-7-1), which has been almost as disappointing as Anaheim after many tabbed the Sharks to contend for the Western Conference title.
Wednesday's 3-1 loss to Dallas was a prime example of the Sharks' frustrations. San Jose outshot the Stars 39-12, but only got a goal from defenseman Matt Carle.
"We did play really well, but you have to look at the outcome," goalie Evgeni Nabokov told the team's official Web site.
The numbers are troubling for the Sharks, who have won back-to-back games only once this season. They tied for second in the West with 3.1 goals per game in 2006-07, but are among the worst in the conference this season at 2.3 goals.
Jonathan Cheechoo has just six points after registering 69 last season, and Patrick Marleau has only five following a 78-point season.
"We have to bear down and bury our chances," forward Milan Michalek said.
San Jose will be looking for its third straight win on the road, where it's 6-3-1 this season.
This is the first meeting of the season between these teams after Anaheim went 5-2-1 against the Sharks last year.
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