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Ducks Lossday -- Let's talk about "Fire Carlyle"

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Montreal Canadiens (Carlyleless) at Anaheim Ducks (C'mon, draft lottery!), 7 pm
Eyes On The Prize and Anaheim Calling -- why don't you francophile a while?


I realize that lately I've been awfully lazy (even by my standards) in my blogging, particularly in my loose usage of the phrase "Fire Carlyle". So I thought I'd write out a few thoughts today about why I want Carlyle fired. It's not that I don't think he can coach an NHL team, but he's not pushing the right buttons to coach THIS team of hotheads, and that's important. But hey -- the Ducks have won 2 of their past 18 games -- I shouldn't have to tell you that, right?

Point One: Randy Carlyle's Ducks are not prepared to play the start of any period, or any season, really.

Minutes into a Period ANA Goals For ANA Goals Against ANA Goal Differential
First 8 minutes of any period 16 GF 40 GA -24 GD
Minutes 9 - 20 of any period 33 GF 33 GA even GD
All Minutes Total 49 GF 73 GA -24 GD

First let's look at that table above for 23 games this season -- even I'm stunned at how neatly this worked out. The Ducks are losing periods as quickly as possible, it seems. And while they do seemingly right their ship as periods go along, part of that is that opponents adjust as they start playing with a lead. This table does include overtime periods, but so far there has been only one goal-against in overtime; it barely impacts the table at all.

It seems obvious from the table that the Ducks this season are not prepared for the starts of periods. The matchups are wrong, or the mindset is wrong, or the players are not warmed up effectively -- whatever the reason, it comes back to the head coach. If Carlyle cannot motivate or maniupate matchups so that his players execute a competent first eight minutes, then he should hurry and find somebody who can. At this point, players appear unafraid of Carlyle, which is working out pretty disastrously.

And slow season starts aren't new for Carlyle, either. Carlyle's Ducks are a collective 23-30-7 in their first dozen games of the past five seasons; only once in five tries have the Ducks been above .500 twelve games into the season. Training camps appear to be ineffective attempts to prepare Anaheim for regular season hockey, just like Carlyle's locker room speeches.

Point Two: Ryan Getzlaf is a lazy, rotten choice for captain.

Yes, I understand that Carlyle did not assign a captain, but rather left it to a player vote, but that act in itself is irresponsible. It undervalues the importance of capable leadership and has allowed the Duck who yells the most at referees to become its spokesperson on the ice. Getzlaf is lazy, terrible in the faceoff circle, not terribly effective in his own end, and not a great motivator of teammates. And his on-ice play is suffering, probably in part because he knows he's a failed leader.

At this point, I'd hope a coach could spot this and correct it (or had the foresight to select a better captain in the first place), but Carlyle has taken that option off the table. Instead, Carlyle's fix is much less confrontational: the Ducks apparently will stop being awful once Matt Beleskey, who was on waivers last week, gets inserted on the top line.

Getzlaf can apparently get away with anything, and Carlyle's making that message extra clear. Accountability? Never heard of it.

Point Three: The Ducks have responded particularly awfully to leading AND trailing.

Scoreboard Situation ANA Goals For ANA Goals Against ANA Goal Differential
Ducks lead by 2+ 4 GF 14 GA -10 GD
Ducks lead by 1 11 GF 9 GA +2 GD
Score is tied 14 GF 20 GA -6 GD
Ducks trail by 1 6 GF 17 GA (+2 en)
-11 GD
Ducks trail by 2+ 14 GF 10 GA (+1 en)
+4 GD

The table above shows how Ducks goals for and against have occurred base on the scoreboard -- it's not so clear-cut as the previous table, but there's two lines worth noting. Whenever the Ducks are up by two goals or down by one goal, the odds that Anaheim scores next is very, very slim. It is kind of stunning that with all the trailing that's been happening in Anaheim, Ducks have only been able to tie the score from behind only six times. You'd hope that once trailing, the Ducks could adjust their game to some sort of offensive focus in pursuit of that game-tying goal, but whatever they're doing, it's awful. Most early deficits are staying deficits; Ducks apparently don't have that ability to adjust their game in that direction.

When leading, the Ducks are pretty awful, too -- even the two victories the Ducks have over their past 18 games have both featured nearly-blown multi-goal 3rd-period leads. Put the Ducks up by multiple goals, and the Ducks will stop playing for the night. Sometimes the clock will expire in time to keep that lead intact; lately it takes opponents hardly any time at all to catch up. Whatever Carlyle is coaching, it isn't helping when the Ducks lead or trail.

Tie situations seem like they could go either way, but even that's kind of deceptive. So far this season, 31 times the Ducks have entered a 20-minute period with the score tied. In 8 of those periods the Ducks managed to outshoot their opponents; in 21 of those periods Anaheim's opponents outshot the Ducks. So really, no matter the score, I don't like how Carlyle's Ducks are performing. And results don't appear to be any better than they were a month ago (1 win ago).

Point Four: The list of players who cannot succeed under Randy Carlyle continues to grow.

Bacon McMuffin is off to Syracuse, to join a bunch of other prospects who haven't been able to succeed playing Carlyle hockey. Barstool Bob brings in depth forward after depth forward in an attempt to bolster offensive depth, but nobody seems to be able to produce in Carlyle's system. All we seem to bring in is a bunch of busts -- are they all awful, or is Anaheim's system stifling them?

It raises a legitimate question: what percentage of NHLers in the league do you think work well in Carlyle's system? That question is really why I'm not so hasty in condemning GM Barstool Bob in the same breath as Carlyle. The lower the percentage of the league that can play effectively for Carlyle, and the more the GM's hands become tied. (Of course, the longer Carlyle remains uselessly employed, the more blameable Murray becomes.)

The Ducks are working their way southward towards an excellent lottery pick in next year's draft. The kid should probably be good enough to make next year's Ducks team, I'd guess -- but man, I worry what happens if that promising kid gets put into Carlyle's hockey system. Sorry in advance, kid, whoever you are.

* * *

So there are some reasons why I overuse the term "Fire Carlyle", but it's not an exhaustive list, and I did get kind of rushed in my explanations by the end. Fortunately (?), I've been constantly assured that Carlyle isn't going anywhere anytime before his contract expires in 2014, so there's plenty of time to add to the list, it seems. Feel free to add to any of my listed reasons in the comments, or add your own new complaints if you want.

Of course, the more I'm told that firing Carlyle is off the table, the more insistent I get. Because the Ducks need accountability in the worst way right now, and the more untouchable Carlyle's job is, and the more untouchable Getzlaf's captaincy is, and the more we get into "let's blame some depth player for not executing Randy's infallible plan", the less accountable everybody on this team becomes. No matter how rotten the stretch of hockey, no matter how pissed the fanbase gets, no matter how empty the arena, Randy's job is eternally safe -- welcome to Ducks "hockey".

Prediction: Why turn this into a multiple-win month now? Ducks 2, Habs more-than-2. Blame goes to everybody except Carlyle.

Fire Carlyle.