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Ducks’ Rickard Rakell needs goal against Islanders to be sign of things to come

By in Press Enterprise on December 22, 2017

By Eric Stephens

NEW YORK — Last season, Rickard Rakell put the NHL on notice was his ascension into the role as the Ducks’ best pure goal scorer. Racking up more in one season than he had totaled over the previous four will do that.

The goals so far this season haven’t been as plentiful. And with that has come some overall play that’s drawn attention – the kind a player doesn’t want.

Following his return from a suspected head injury Dec. 5, Rakell did not score in his first eight games played, a slump that ended Thursday with a late game-tying score against the New York Islanders. It stopped a stretch during which he was minus-8 rating over six games and had dropped to a team-worst minus-14.

And that caught the attention of Ducks coach Randy Carlyle.

“He’s struggling to find the net obviously,” Carlyle said. “He’s hit a few posts and his scoring prowess is being tested right now from a standpoint that he’s getting chances but he’s not finding the back of the net.

“Consequently, he’s been on the ice for a number of goals against. His minus is climbing where it’s very noticeable.”

Carlyle has likely made Rakell aware of that as he echoed his presence on many goals against. Lately, he hasn’t been able to balance the ledger by putting some into the net. He has had some near-misses, particularly an overtime chance stopped by Washington’s Braden Holtby and a post hit in New Jersey that could have given the Ducks a late lead.

In setting a new career high with 33 goals in 2016-17, Rakell scored on 18.6 percent of his shots – a mark far above what had been his normal success rate. His goal Thursday pushed his conversion rate to 10 percent, so it is highly possible that he’ll move closer to […]    

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