Hockey

Well, you can’t say things aren’t at least getting interesting over on West Madison lately. After nothing but radio silence regarding the status of top prospect and A New Hope for the future Lukas Reichel was suddenly promoted to The Show on Wednesday. After initially saying he’d only be on the taxi squad, Coach King relented and tossed him in the lineup last night. What resulted was nothing spectacular, but also was not awful either.

How long he’ll be up on the main roster is unknown at this point, but I would hazard a guess that if he acclimates quickly and shows he belongs, the Hawks brass will be hard pressed to come up with an excuse to banish him back to Rockford. At least for the time being we have something to watch that might potentially be here in 3 years.

 

1/15 Vs. Ducks

Game Time: 7:30 PM CST

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Emilio Estevez Is A Moron: Anaheim Calling

 

Up until about 10 days ago, the Ducks were (somehow) the best team in what is admittedly a very barren Pacific Division in the Western Conference. How they got to that point nobody knows, but even after getting passed up by Vegas the meltdown everyone assumed was forthcoming has not shown. Part of the Ducks success has been their uncanny ability to make it into OT and secure the extra point before losing. They lead the entire Western Conference with the Loser Point with a whopping 7 of them thus far. To put that into perspective, they only garnered 9 OT loss points in the entirety of the 2019 season, so they’re on pace to blow that record out of the water.

The Ducks have very few familiar faces these days, other than Ryan Getzlaf’s giant one. The turnover on the front end has been what you would expect from a team that’s been sitting in the basement of the West the past 5 years. Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras lead the team in scoring, both high picks of the Ducks in the last few drafts. Columbus castoff Sonny Milano and his glorious hair seemingly has finally put it together after never living up to his 1st round pedigree in the O-H-I-O. The Hawks luck out, as two of Anaheim’s more dangerous forwards in Rickard Rakell and (to a lesser extent) Jakob Silfverberg will most likely miss Saturday’s tilt as Rakell hurt his shoulder during an awkward collision into the boards and Silfverberg’s got the Rona.

John Gibson is still here, and he’s about as exciting as white bread covered in mayo with his 2.64 GAA and .917 save percentage that is somehow good enough to get picked for the NHL All Star Game. Where he DOES stand out is when the Ducks are on the PK, which is the 3rd best in the league at suppressing shots. A lot of that comes from their very mobile defense, which denies zone entries with some of the best in the league. With the Hawks PP sinking further and further to the bottom of the league, the ability of the Ducks to flip the ice looms large.

 

1/17 @ Seattle

Game Time: 4:00 PM CST (Seriously)

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720

Johnny Depp Sucks: Davy Jones Locker Room

 

One of the few teams actually statistically worse than the Hawks, the Kraken are nevertheless providing some entertainment for their new fans in the Pacific Northwest. Jordan Eberle leads the team in points, which is somewhat impressive given his role as a #2 scorer for every team he’s ever been on. To be fair, some of that is due to the fact that Connor McDavid and later John Tavares were on his teams. He’s an excellent skater, and is able to create a shot for himself (which he needs to do quite a bit on this team). He’s also 31, which while not exactly young anymore is not so old that he can’t be the face of the franchise for the next few years while they attempt to cash in on all their draft picks.

On the back end they have…uhhh…Mark Giordano? And some other guys? Their goaltending is pretty terrible as well, with both Phillip Grubauer and Chris Driedger having GAAs over 3.30. The Kraken are pretty much what one would expect an expansion team to be, making Vegas truly the exception that proves the rule. They don’t do anything well, except play with a chip on their shoulder which can make them dangerous on any given night. Their fans are loud (mostly because they’re Seahawks fans which makes them insane criminals), and just happy to have a team. So they’ll probably drop 6 on the Hawks and toss the team bus into the Puget Sound.

Hockey

vs.

RECORDS: Ducks 26-31-8   Hawks 29-28-8

PUCK DROP: 7:30

TV: NBCSN Chicago

MUSKETEERS? ON GUARD?: Anaheim Calling

Whenever the Hawks were mapping out a road back to the playoffs–be it before the season, or in the depths of the fall, or when they looked barely competent around the new year and trying to place a final charge–they must have looked at March and thought this was where it would happen. Because looking at this month’s slate, even in their current state the Hawks could pile up some points here.

It starts tonight with the Ducks, who blow. The Wings are on Friday, and they blow. The Sharks and Sentators at home next week. They blow chunks, too. Minnesota in a home-and-home and then Buffalo, and both of those teams blow a fair amount as well. The Kings and Canadiens at the end of the month, and yep, there’s some definite blowage there as well. That’s nine games that you’d expect the Hawks to win, no matter their makeup. Which means if  the Hawks were to goof a couple of results out of the Oilers, Blues, Caps, Penguins, or Stars…they could have 86 or 88 points, or even more at denouement of the season.

Except that probably only worsens their draft position. And makes you wonder what if. And that’s if you think the Hawks will take all 18 points from the games they should. Which they won’t. There’ll be no shelter here.

Either way, it kicks off tonight with the visit of the Ducks, who have backed up all season themselves after backing up all last season and have never really recovered since a playoff loss to the Predators in 2017. Boy, that sounds familiar. The Ducks might still be in Step 1 of turning from the Getzlaf-Perry generation to the next that will be led by…well, they don’t really know who yet and that’s the problem.

Getzlaf is still here of course, but his can’t-be-bothered, I’ll-float-out-here style has now aged into a I-can’t-get-there-if-I-wanted-to-but-still-don’t morass. Getz is headed for his lowest point-total since 2012 or worse, and he’s still the #1 center around these parts. What kids he’s turning the torch over to, I can’t tell you. The Ducks seemed to have missed a generation, just like the Hawks have. Rickard Rakell is 27 soon. Jakob Silfverberg is 29. Adam Henrique is 30. Cam Fowler is 28. Josh Manson too. That’s not really anyone in their prime or approaching it who’s ready to be the centerpiece of this team. When your important players are either over 30 or under 24, you get this.

The younger ducklings (so clever) like Sam Steel or Max Jones or Max Comtois (Larry Horse say Ducks too Max-y) or Jacob Larsson haven’t seized the greater opportunities. There’s still time of course, but Ducks observers would probably like to see a little more flash and less talk. The Ducks have taken on a couple projects in the hopes of finding plutonium by accident like Danton Heinen or Sonny Milano or Christian Djoos. Something’s got to work soon, right?

There’s still a few kids who haven’t even gotten a full go yet, and that’s where the hope lies. But this being a Bob Murray team, they’re going to struggle to find room for them thanks to contracts like Ryan Kesler’s if he doesn’t want to retire, or Erik Gudbranson’s, or David Backes’s for one more year. It’s a project in Anaheim, that’s for sure. The hockey team matches the area around it. There’s a lot of trash just lying around with nothing to stand out from the background.

To the Hawks, it’s basically the same again as it was in Florida. Corey Crawford will start, and the rest of the lineup will remain the same. And really, why would you change anything at this point? How would you? It kind of picks itself.

Toews, Keith, Kane, and Crow have been sounding the bell about making a serious run this month, and they’ll probably be doing the same in the room. They have to. Players want to win, and there are wins here to be had. And hey, maybe it’ll be fun. Who knows what it would tell the front office though. Look, we’ve got to come up with some reason to electively watch the Hawks play teams like this, right?

Hockey

If you were to guess which goalies had the best save percentage since 2015, you might get Ben Bishop. He’s been really good, played behind some good Lightning teams, and then behind the trapping Stars last year. You’d figure Andrei Vasilevskiy would be there too, given that he pushed Bishop out of Tampa. Robin Lehner would be a surprise, but that’s the case. Wouldn’t shock you that Corey Crawford is fifth, even though he hasn’t played behind a good defensive team since before this stretch. Sergei Bobrovsky scans as well.

Did you know John Gibson is tied for first?

Yep, and there’s an argument that he’s the best goalie in the league. Because while the others have played behind at least competent teams for most of that stretch, Gibson was forced to prop up the Randy Carlyle led Ducks team, and remember that was a coach that couldn’t make toast. Last year, he even had to deal with a Bob Murray led Ducks team, and you can pretty much how that goes.

Last year, Gibson was the Vezina front-runner until he basically collapsed due to exhaustion. He was seeing 32 shots per game, but faded in January and February with SV%s of .900 and .822 in just three Feb. starts after getting hurt. He rebounded in March with a .922, while still facing over 33 shots per game.

He might have been even more impressive the season before, as he put up a .926, and according to HockeyReference.com saved 25 goals over average that year. That’s something like 12-14 points in the standings, which would be the difference from finishing second in the division as the Ducks did and not even coming close to the playoffs. That’s how important Gibson has been to the rebuilding Ducks. Sadly…well, not sadly because fuck Anaheim, he couldn’t do much about the rest of his team being severely outplayed by the Sharks as they were swept out quicker than you can say, “Orange County Needs To Be Blown Up.”

And that’s probably Gibson’s last frontier to break, as he doesn’t have a signature playoff run. He backstopped the Ducks to the conference final three seasons ago, where they were pulverized by the Predators, but hardly anyone remembers that. The collapse against the Kings five years ago is still fresh in the mind.

The other thing about Gibson, and it’s hard to believe because it was signed by Murray, is that he might have the best contract in the league. He signed an eight-year extension before last season that kicked in this one, and at 26 for the next eight years he’s making only $6.4M. Vezina goalies can make close to twice that, though that’s not going all that well for Carey Price or Sergei Bobrovsky. Gibson has time on his side, of course.

Whether the Ducks can give Gibson the support in front of him anytime soon, who knows? There are some kids that are promising, and Ryan Getzlaf seems to be summoning up a death rattle this season so far. And yet the Ducks remain one of the worst possession teams or goals-share teams, which means Gibson and backup Ryan Miller are getting shelled most nights. They won’t have to worry about that tonight obviously, but for the next eight years, Gibson will provide a baseline for this team they can build from that’s ahead of most bottom-feeders.

Murray actually got something right. What a world.

Everything Else

Make sure I got that one right, as a real horse-racing fan should. Anyway, there’s really less than a quarter of the season left, but now’s as good of a time as any to see who should rack up the hardware at the end of the year, though most probably won’t. As always, a metric-look is usually involved here.

Hart Trophy (MVP) – Nikita Kucherov

Yes, I know. Patrick Kane has a case. He’s playing with worse players and his numbers aren’t all that far off from Kucherov’s. He is single-handedly keeping a dogshit team barely relevant, and without him the Hawks would be a shoe-in for top spot in the lottery and the Hawks would be a monolith to sadness and confusion (most of these arguments also apply to Connor McDavid, but let’s leave that for a second. And the Oilers are that monolith). That’s all well and good and if you say that I won’t tell you you’re wrong. But like we said at every other checkpoint on this, 130 points is 130 points like a football in the groin is a football in the groin. Kucherov is more a reason those other players are really good than vice versa. These things just don’t have to be that hard.

Vezina Trophy (Best Goalie) – John Gibson

Next week, this won’t be the case and you’ll probably have to give it Vasilevskiy. That is unless Gibson returns and kills it for the season’s last month. But no one was facing more attempts and better chances than Gibson, and until recently no one was turning more of them away at a better rate than he should have been, according to expected-save-percentage. He dropped off the last month, crumbling under the weight of a fucking quarry that Carlyle and the Ducks put on him, but if he can put up a good last month it should be his. It won’t be, and the Lightning will add this to the haul of trophies they’re likely to get. Gibson should get it because the Ducks will have actually killed him by April 1st and it’ll make a nice marker for his grave.

Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman) – Erik Karlsson
This is going to be Mark Giordano‘s Lifetime Achievement Award, and I don’t really have a problem with that. And Karlsson’s recent bout of ouchiness would probably preclude him anyway. But on a good possession team to begin with, Karlsson stands out over everyone with how much more he pushes his team forward than they do without him. It’s basically him and Dougie Hamilton. Karlsson can’t buy a bucket for himself, shooting less than 1% somehow at even-strength. But he’s still in all the right places and in fact he’s getting more shots for himself than he has before. He’s going to drag this team with its shitty goaltending to a conference final at least by the dick, and everyone will probably shrug because we’re so accustomed. He’s a goddamn treasure.

Rod Langway Award (Best defensive defenseman, doesn’t actually exist) – Niklas Hjalmarsson

Boy, that hurts. But no one gets buried in their zone more to start than Hammer and OEL and according to the metrics, no one does a better job of limiting chances at a rate above their team’s than Hjalmarsson. Even though you’ve won half the battle against them by starting in the right end, they’re not allowing you any chances. So this didn’t go according to plan at all.

Calder Trophy (Rookie) – WHO WANTS TO WALK WITH ELIAS?!

Again, I only put this in so my one Canucks fan friend doesn’t yell at me, because otherwise I don’t care.

Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward) – Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Yep, a fucking teenager. But no forward limits expected goals and attempts against at less of a rate than any of his teammates than this kid. They’re still going to give it to Patrice Bergeron, which like, fine, but at some point you have to find someone new. And it’s going to be Kotkaniemi. In two years you just watch, every Canadiens fan and media is going to stamp their feet and wet themselves until he gets the recognition that Bergeron does simply because they can’t have the Bruins having that over them, and everyone will go along with it just to get them to shut up. Except this time they’ll be right.

Everything Else

vs.

RECORDS: Hawks 26-28-9   Ducks 24-30-9

PUCK DROP: 9pm

TV: NBCSN

MICKEY’S BUDDIES: Anaheim Calling

You can probably imagine the execs at NBCSN wishing they had flex scheduling tonight. Or maybe they wish they didn’t have to put up with the NHL at all. Either way, a Hawks-Ducks matchup on your flagship night is sure to result in some shaking heads and sighs around the offices and truck and a declaration of, “Let’s just get through this”. But hey, this is our duty, and we’ll stick to it.

If you want to be relieved in finally getting to watch a team that’s a bigger mess than the Hawks, well you’re in luck the next two dates on the Hawks’ calendar. The Ducks have become perhaps the league’s leading calamity, and if they’re not it’s up the I-5 for the Hawks on Saturday afternoon. There was a time when Anaheim was floating around the playoff spots, though that was solely due to John Gibson and his Vezina-worthy form at the time. Then that dropped off, then he got hurt, and all that was left was Randy Carlyle‘s bashing-two-rocks-together system and ways, which was getting the Ducks pummeled every night to begin with.

They went 12 in a row without a win. Then they piled on seven regulation losses in a row soon after that. They’ve lost three in a row heading into this one, scoring two goals in the process. All told, since the middle of December this team is 5-19-4. That’s how you go for broke in the lottery, peeps. Whatever I might think of Jeremy Colliton, I can confidently say he’s no Randy Carlyle.

In a move his mentor Bob Pulford would undoubtedly nod in approval over, before falling over into a puddle of his own puke, Bob Murray finally shitcanned RANDY and inserted himself behind the bench. Perhaps he wanted a better look at the refuse he’s taped together, or perhaps whatever dignity he has left wouldn’t allow him to subject any other poor soul to this. It hasn’t much helped, as you might be able to tell.

The Ducks are somehow worse than the Hawks defensively and metrically, and basically have been all season. Carlyle’s tactics didn’t help, which seemed to harken back to 2007, the only time he knows. That and helmets actually cause concussions. This guy had an NHL coaching job, people.

Not only are the Ducks irretrievably bad and expensive, they’re now banged up. Ryan Getzlaf, John Gibson, and Ryan Miller could all miss out tonight. Ondrej Kase definitely will. This roster is basically bong residue. Ryan Kesler is dead and has also stopped caring, which is a real shock. Corey Perry returned from surgery 12 games ago and is a fourth-liner making $8 million. Hampus! Hampus! has lost the will to live, and Cam Fowler‘s injury history has finally caught up to him and now he’s terrible.

If there’s any hope for the Ducks, it’s that some of their kids are up and are probably going to get a look. Names like Sam Steel, Troy Terry, Max Jones, and Brendan Guhle are going to be carrying whatever the Ducks are going forward, so that at least gives their 12 fans something to watch. But this is a whole lot of ugly right now, which is perfect for this part of Orange County. If you’ve been there, you know.

For the Hawks, their playoff “chase,” such as it was, probably came to an end with the o-for-2 at home on the weekend. However, with the Ducks and Kings on the schedule they have a chance to at least get back where they were, and maybe you spring a surprise on the Sharks on Sunday night (no, you don’t). If the Hawks don’t collect all four points from the first two-thirds of this trip, they’re officially cooked and we can get on with our lives.

It’s unlikely that Corey Crawford will get the start, though he’ll get one on the weekend. Then again, you can’t ask for a softer landing than this. This should be a glorified practice against a team now running out the clock, but nothing is ever that simple for an outfit like the Hawks. This one’s for the diehards only, and the true creatures of the night.

See you there.

 

Game #64 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

CJ is the editor of AnaheimCalling.com. Follow him @CJWoodling. 

Now that the Ducks have decided to start over, is Bob Murray really the guy you want leading this rebuild?

The Ducks have decided to do more of a retool rather than a full-blown rebuild, more out of necessity than anything else. With more than 30% of the Ducks cap space tied up in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler, all with full NMCs for the next 3-4 seasons, they really can’t completely blow it all up.
That said, they have some good prospects on the verge of making an impact, some of while we’ll see tonight in Troy Terry, Max Jones, and Brendan Guhle, to name a few. With John Gibson still just 25 and locked up for 7 more years and younger pieces like Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, and Ondrej Kase, they could be competitive again very soon.

Bob Murray has never had to do a retool like this, however. He inherited a team in 2009 with a recent cup win and transitioned it to a consistent competitor without rebuilding. Most of us are willing to see what he can do with this team given the pieces he currently has.

Why was Jakob Silfverberg someone the Ducks decided they have to have?

Bob Murray has a history of handing out extensions like candy to anyone who has performed halfway decently in recent seasons. Jakob Silfverberg has been a good two-way player and a good playoff performer over the years. Murray loves his safe, low-risk, two-way players, so it’s not surprising he wanted to hang onto him. The fan base, however, is fairly divided over the extension.
There’s a ton of bad paper on the Ducks. Is anyone getting bought out in the summer?
There are three candidates for buyout on the Ducks in Getzlaf, Perry, and Kesler. Murray has only every bought out one player in his tenure, so it’s unlikely he does it again, especially for one of these expensive players.
Getzlaf is still a borderline-elite player, so he’s off the board. Corey Perry has looked fantastic since coming back from knee surgery, so he’s probably off the table as well. That leaves us with Ryan Kesler, who has less than 10 points on the season and who’s hip is on the verge of exploding at any moment. Buying out Kesler would save the Ducks more than $4 million, but put more than $2 million on the books for six more seasons. Not sure if ownership is willing to swallow that.

Might the Ducks have to lose someone who is young and productive just to accommodate all the bad paper they have and get picks/prospects?

We kind of saw that with the trade of Brandon Montour, trading a 24-year-old good, offensive blueliner for a 1st round pick. However, getting Brendan Guhle back, a 21-year-old with elite skating ability, might mitigate what was lost there. With several kids on the verge of making an impact on the Ducks, I don’t foresee the Ducks losing another young and productive player unless next season unexpectedly goes down the tube again.

 

Game #64 Preview Suite

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 vs. 

RECORDS: Hawks 9-14-5   Ducks 14-10-5

PUCK DROP: 9:30

TV: NBCSN

HERE WE GO AGAIN IT’S NEVER GONNA END: Anaheim Calling

God, writing that record out just hurts.

The Hawks quickly jaunt out west this week for a back-to-back against Anaheim and Vegas, and I’m sure landing in Vegas really late curtails any urge to enjoy the splendors and luxuries of Sin City–what I’m saying is that the Hawks will look like particular shit tomorrow night. But we’re not there yet. Let’s deal with a slog with the Ducks first.

Starting with the local Westside Hockey Club. There wouldn’t appear to many changes. Having failed to launch Chris Kunitz headfirst into a landfill at great speed, our best hope is that his “veteran leadership” that cost the Hawks any chance of a point on Sunday lands him in the pressbox for the foreseeable future. Erik Gustafsson should draw back in after a one-game ball-tap, which should send Jan Rutta back into the darkness of the Honda Center on his way to Rockford. Connor Murphy is on the trip but is not likely to play either game, but Sunday against Les Habitants would seem to be likely.

As for the rest of it, there isn’t much left to say. The forwards will get jumbled. Patrick Kane will play everywhere. We hope to notice Brendan Perlini at all. We hope that Dylan Strome builds on what was a decent game on Sunday. But if there’s ever a time to claim some new ground, it’s tonight.

Because don’t be fooled by the Ducks record or placing in a Pacific Division that has all the momentum of a pig in shit. This team BUH-LOWS. They’re on pace to give up a record number of shots per game. They give up the second-most attempts per game, and have the fourth-worst xGA/60 (care to guess who has the first?). They basically get shelled every night, and only heroic work by both John Gibson and Ryan Miller have kept this team from loitering around the entrance to the drugstore with the Hawks, Blues, and Kings.

Gibby, I can call him that, has cooled off a touch since his unholy October, but still came up with a .921 in November and had put up a 34- and 44-save effort in his two starts before getting clocked by the Capitals. Perhaps because of that, and blatant lack of respect for what the Hawks are, they’ll get to see Ryan Miller tonight, who’s only been at .954 at evens this year. So that’s nice.

Up front, the Ducks have a clear delineation from their top-six to the bottom-six. The top line of Pontus AbergRyan GetzlafRickard Rakell has been a weapon of late, with Aberg benefitting the most. I’m not telling you Getzlaf found his long-lost fuck to give, but he’s more than talented enough to set up plays while floating around the outside and reading…well I don’t think he can read but whatever dumbass fucks like him read. The second line is being carried by Adam Henrique, and both of these units start exclusively in the offensive zone. The next lines start exclusively in their own end, and because Ryan Kesler has maggots crawling out of every orifice now, they can’t escape.

The defense had been missing Hampus! Hampus! for a while, and will be without Cam Fowler for longer still. And while they want to believe that Brandon Montour and Josh Manson are that good to justify giving up on Shea Theodore as he excels in Vegas, they’ve been having their brains turned into potato soup most of the year. Maybe a fully-healthy Fowler and Lindholm help that, but this is a Randy Carlyle team and Randy Carlyle teams are terrible metrically while he finds reasons to justify his “Helmets Cause Concussions Because They Make Brains Hot” theory (this is a real thing).

Look, we all know the Hawks are going to get stuffed tomorrow night because they have in every meeting with the Knights. So if they actually still care, and I’m not convinced they do, and want to get a win just to see if they can still feel anymore, this would be the time. The Ducks are bad. The Hawks already deservedly beat them once this season.

Just get a win. Because it might be a nice change of pace.

 

Game #29 Preview Suite

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Everything Else

Usually, we try and give our Q&A correspondents a few days for these things. But because we try and block out Anaheim’s existence out of our minds, both team and place, we forgot to send these to our dear friend Jen Neale. Because she’s an angle, she helped us out anyway on short-notice, because she apparently loves a charity case. Follow her on Twitter @MsJenNeale. 

 

Game #29 Preview Suite

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We should say there’s always a caveat this early in the season. The Ducks have only played nine games. But if trends continue as they have begun for Anaheim, they might be one of the worst possession-teams the league has seen in some time. Which makes one wonder if John Gibson realizes just how much power he wields over the organization. He is the only reason they’ve won a game. If the Ducks are even average this year, with the way things are going, it’ll be because of Gibson. So if you’re Randy Carlyle, you’d better start buying all sorts of dinners, gifts, and free contractors for the house you’re going to build for him, if you want to keep your job. Because Gibson could send Carlyle to CV-writing with a snap of his fingers.

Randy Carlyle is an idiot, but so far this year he has put together a simply exquisite buffet of terrible hockey for the Anaheim fans to enjoy (not that they’d know the difference). Let’s review: The Ducks have a team-wide 41.1 CF%. That’s last in the league by a full point, behind such luminaries as the Islanders, Canucks, and Senators. Their expected-goals percentage, and you really want to take a breath or two before reading on here, is 36.9%. That starts with a “3,” That’s a full five points behind the 30th-placed team, which just so happens to be the Hawks. Just for a frame of reference, no team has finished a season with a mark below 40%. So if the Ducks want to make history, they’ll just have to stay on their current course.

The only team giving up more shots on goal than the Ducks at evens is the Hawks, and they have one period to thank for that. And where Joel Quenneville could point to a list of his d-men and quite rightly ask, “Just what the fuck do you want me to do with that?,” Carlyle has no such outs.

This is a team with Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, and Brandon Montour on its top four. Ok, the forwards have been without Jakob Silfverberg, Nick Ritchie, and Ondrej Kase due to injury. Don’t you dare mention Corey Perry’s aged and poisoned ass when talking about team speed. His feet went out the door two years ago. But still, Andrew Cogliano, Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique, and Sam Steel are around. This isn’t a team bereft of speed.

So why is it playing like an overturned meat truck? They have d-men that can get themselves up the ice. They have forwards that can chase down the puck. And it’s all not working at all. They continue to dump the puck in in a league where most teams have d-men who are just going to turn around and skate away from you. Their d-men don’t stand up at the line even though they have recovery speed everywhere. And no one can seem to spell “breakout” much less complete one.

Carlyle was an idiotic, old-boys hire from the get-go. This is how insular the NHL had gotten, as GM Bob Murray didn’t just go to the Old Boys’ Club for a coach after turfing Bruce Boudreau and his allergies to home Game 7s, he went back to the coach they’d already kicked out. Did he just walk out to the parking lot and find Carlyle wandering around aimlessly kicking pebbles and looking like he had nowhere to go? Hiring him for the coaching job in the same fashion as you would adopt a lost dog actually makes the most sense.

The Ducks “success” under Carlyle basically amounts to Cam Talbot dying of exhaustion in the ’17 playoffs. They were crushed by the Sharks last year, signaling that things had to pivot from where they were. They clearly haven’t.

Gibson might keep Carlyle in a job all season, if he sees fit. Maybe the returning forwards will provide more pop. But clearly this is a ship that’s got a ton of holes in it, and the water level is rising.

 

Game #9 Preview Suite

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