Posts Tagged ‘Randy Carlyle’

Note: This post first appeared in the comment section of the “Palmieri signs” story. I moved it to the front page, gave it it’s own story and prominence because czhokej is soliciting comments. Just felt he would get more comments on the front page than on a back page.

As always in the “BackChecking with” format, my comments are italicized.

czhokej: One thing, which actually doesn’t belong here, but it is still on my mind.

bc: it does now :)

czhokej: People think that I am always focused on the negative issues,

bc: Yeah, you whine like a first wife….Seriously Bud, I don’t recall anybody but you labeling or characterizing your posts on this site. Fact is only one team raises the Cup each year. Every other team falls short. Thus sport is mostly negative because ultimately, our teams lose more than they win.

czhokej: …but I have noticed that in the playoffs our coaching was not up to par. Especially at the end of the series, our system was just confusion and improvisation.

bc: Neither Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterburg had registered a point in the series until the game following Abdelkader’s hit on Toni Lydman. Wings then took 3 of the final 4 games. Datsyuk put up 2 goals and 3 assists and Zetterburg scored the winner in game 5 plus added another goal along with 4 assists.

czhokej: Tactically and strategically we were making mistakes.

bc: Part of me agrees with you because we weren’t positioned well to counter the Wings speed. The rules have taken physical teams best strategy away though. We can’t slow teams down by interfering and running picks. OTOH, Wings flash and dash game puts us in reactive rather than proactive position. When that happened we couldn’t keep up.

czkokej: Some may say that I did not like RC even though he won the Cup.  No, I really liked Randy Carlyle in 2007, but I did not like that he was not able to change the system afterwards, when it did not work anymore, when we had a different roster, and when every opponent was ready for our predictable game plan.

bc: Even in Trauma RC molded what was a run and gun team into a dump and chase puck management team.

czhokej: And I do not want to say “deja vu”, because Bruce Boudreau is a different coach and his season with the Ducks was successful, regardless of the loss to Mike Babcock.  And he is a good motivator.

bc: This isn’t so much disagreeing cz, but more I just don’t know. Where is the line between player responsibility and Coach putting them situations where they can succeed. We lost 3 games in OT and 4 games by one stinkin’ goal. Perry had no goals, Selanne 1 and Ryan 2 in seven games. Other than Getz and Beauchemin our top scorers were third and fourth line players. Our best players, were not our best players in that series. does that fall on the coach or the player?

czhokej: This comment may sound like a work of a conceited mind, but nevertheless, I would like to hear your opinion, ladies and gentlemen.

bc: Sounds more like an intelligent and passionate fan to me.


Oh man, take a day off and GM’s execute the biggest trades so far in this financial season.

Our Ducks weren’t involved and part of the reason could be Bob Murray is awaiting Teemu’s decision. In the recent past Murph has stated that he prefers knowing on or before players become UFA’s. Long Beach Press-Telegram reporter files this bit on Teemu’s progress. As this blog hinted Tuesday, Flash did some public lobbying for fellow UFA Finn Valtteri Filpulla.

The biggest trade of yesterday involved a player in whom Ducks have shown some interest.

Bruins sent frustrated forward Tyler Seguin, center Rich Peverly and developing D-man Ryan Button to Dallas for forwards Loui Eriksson, energy line forward  Reilly Smith along with prospects Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow.
Sequin is expected to center the rebuilding Stars first line. Loui Eriksson is an established top six forward who has scored at least 26 goals in each of his last three 82 game NHL seasons. Ducks fans certainly won’t mind seeing Eriksson move to the Eastern Conference. He recorded both of his career hat tricks against Anaheim.
Dallas’ new GM Jim Nil is clearly beginning the rebuild down the middle as he also acquired Shawn Horcoff from the Edmonton Oilers. Puck moving D-man Philip Larsen goes to Edmonton along with a 7th rnd Entry Draft pick.

The skinny: Boston is in a win now and couldn’t give Seguin a chance to play his natural position. Eriksson replaces Nathan Horton who will test the UFA market. It’s been reported that Horton is looking to move to a less rabid hockey town.

In other player moves:

Many in mainstream media and blogs are jumping the gun reporting Danny  Briere has signed with Montreal. Briere can’t sign until Noon PDT today. While it appears Briere intends to sign with the Habs, the contract won’t be submitted to the NHL for final approval until Briere is officially eligible to sign.

Agent Alan Walsh announced on Twitter that Patrik Elias has been extended by the New Jersey Devils to a new 3 yr, $16.5m term. The contract carries a cap hit of $5.5m.

Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski took some parting shots at Randy Carlyle following his buyout from the Leafs. The 29-year-old German will be looking for a team that will return him to a goal scoring role.

NHL Trade Report is reporting that the Philadelphia Flyers and center Claude Giroux have agreed to a new 8 year contract with a cap hit of $8.275m.

Keith Ballard has agreed to terms with the Minnesota Wild following his buyout from the Vancouver Canucks.

Calgary Flames and Brian McGratton have agreed to a new 2 yr $1.5m. Primarily an enforcer who can pot the odd goal, McGratton will get a chance to play on the rebuilding Flames.

Note: Information available at and other sources was used in drafting this post.

One year ago, Bobby Ryan asked rhetorically, “Can you imagine how good I’m going to be playing for this guy?” Ryan was of course referring to then new head coach Bruce Boudreau. Gabby, as our Ducks coach is sometimes known, had suggested that he’d like to build a line around Ryan.

No more caddying for The Twins. No more getting blamed for the Ducks problems. No more being the first name to pop up in trade rumors.

Fast forward to one year later and the only thing that has changed is that Randy Carlyle got far more out of Bobby Ryan than it appears Bruce Boudreau may ever realize. Ryan is currently on pace for a 20 goal 55 point 82 game season.

The goal of building a line around Ryan seems to have gone the way of fax machines and proper grammar.

Nick Bonino and Teemu Selanne were the first to skate alongside Ryan when this season-short began. That gave way to a succession of line mates not named Koivu, Cogliano or Winnick.

Bobby Ryan is on pace for the worst season statistically of his career. Always a streaky goal scorer, one might argue that Ryan would get hot and finish an 82 game season with 30+ goals and 65+points. That is more wishful thinking and excuse making though.

Bobby Ryan is his record. Right now his record is, to be polite about it, disappointing.

Two things show up in his stats that might have something to do with Bobby Ryan’s “off-year.” His TOI is down substantially from his 34 goal 71 point career best season in 2010-11. Back then Ryan’s ATOI was 20:10 per game. This season his ATOI is 16:35. The other stat that leaps off the page is his shooting percentage of 10.87 is down from a career average of 14.8. For a guy who takes 204 to 270 shots on goal per season, Bobby’s accuracy issue is costing him 8-10 goals this year.

Note: This is also the first time in his career that Ryan’s ratio between goals and assists is statistically significant.

The question of course is why? One difference between how Ryan is used is that today he is almost exclusively used a sniper. When was the last time you saw Ryan deke out a couple-3 opposition players on his way to the net? Thought so, it’s been quite awhile.

There’s a huge difference between going to the net and/or getting into a shooting lane and attacking the net with the puck on your stick.

Ryan must become a tad more selfish with the puck and take more responsibility for finishing plays in the offensive zone. Bobby Ryan is among the league’s best, one on one, and he simply isn’t exploiting those opportunities.

This would fix most of it but not all. Obviously, Ryan needs to take more shooting accuracy drills. Pull out the old shooter tutor and have at it. Me? Most times I’d pick a spot on the boards and shoot at it. Try and hit it from different angles. That shooter tutor was the best goalie I ever came up against.


When GM Bob Murray replaced former coach Randy Carlyle with Bruce Boudreau among his publicly stated reasons was that a new voice was needed. Out of respect for the departed Carlyle, the org insisted that Ducks wouldn’t change their style of play. Bruce Boudreau said our Ducks would remain a defense first team. Never mind that all teams in all team sport play defense first.

In Part I we covered the impact of the coaching change and the roster changes that led to our Ducks being a far more complete team than rec ent rosters. Our Ducks are now at least a reasonable facsimile of the template of the Cup winning edition.

Coach Boudreau has changed everything about how our Ducks go about playing hockey. We’ll  look at this by starting in our end assuming the opposition has the puck, gaining possession and transitioning to offense. Also at this point I will add that hopefully you won’t be reading this as criticism of Coach Carlyle, rather I’m illustrating the difference between the two systems. We’ll pass through the neutral zone, go on attack in the opposition end, loose possession and bring the play back to our end. In this form we’ll address what our Ducks are doing in each zone with and without possession of the puck.

At our end, gone is the pressure the puck carrier defense that so often led to a Keystone Cops style running around in our own end. Jeez, I hated that system when I first learned it at coaching seminars. The short answer is that requires too much of the goaltender. I refused to teach it and exploited opposition coaches, usually newbies who didn’t know any better, who did.

Under the new system we play a zone – man to man hybrid. A forward will stay with his check even down to the end boards, traditionally the area covered by D-men.

Defensively, our Ducks are focused on protecting the mid to low slot or high percentage shooting area through to the end boards. We do this from a standard 2-1-2 with the forwards and D forming a box and the center providing support from the middle of the box. We do break from the 2-1-2 formation when a forward, usually a winger, stays with his check down low.

This tends to leave the opposition points open. If you’re going to outnumber the opposition and provide support at the puck somebody somewhere will be open. Better that be the opposing D who may or may not get a shot through to the net or, just as often, pass or intentionally shoot wide looking for a favorable bounce off the end boards.

When we gain possession of the puck our guy has a few options. Most often the player knows which of these options is most advantageous instantaneously. If a lane is available you skate thepuck put of our zone. A short pass or share  to the player. this short pass or share is usually a cross ice, slightly forward or drop pass depending on where the support or outlet is positioned. Last is head manning the puck which may also be a stretch pass.

Reliance on the short pass is also a significant change from what we did previously. It has resulted in far fewer giveaways and turnovers. This isn’t the only reason we turn the puck over less often though.

As the play moves up ice across the blue line and into the neutral zone we employ one of two tactics. We either get through the neutral zone with speed ahead of the opposition or we must beat the trap. If the opposition has stuffed the neutral zone and set up a trap, the gap between our own forwards and D is shortened and we attack with numbers. At this point we attack the opposing blue line with numbers where we either dump and chase the puck or carry the biscuit into the opposition zone.

Maintaining possession as we attack the opposition blue line makes our Ducks less predictable than we were previously. You may have heard this described as center lane drives but the attack can come from any lane. Advance statistics have provided empirical evidence that maintaining possession results in more shots and scoring chances than the dump, chase and cycle.

As you’ve seen during games we still cycle. Under Boudreau’s system we tend to cycle the puck off a set play as a method of regrouping rather than as a primary means of attacking the opposition net.

Upon setting up in the opposition zone we have 3 set formations from which we attack. The favored set is the 1-3-1 which we establish most often on the PP but use ES when we get the opportunity. The 1-3-1 puts one guy manning the blue line, 3 guys across the zone from the face off dots across the ice and the fifth guy low. This 1-3-1 set will morph into a 2-1-2 with both D manning the blue line, a 3rd man high slot or along the blue line and two fore-checkers low in the offensive zone. The 1-3-1 also morphs into or a 1-2-2 with the 1 position low slot, corner or behind the net.

In the 1-2-2 we almost always have possession of the puck. In the 2-1-2 with the 3rd man high, we may or may not have possession.

The primary purpose of every scoring opportunity is to make the goalie move. It doesn’t matter so much how that is accomplished. It is why you almost always see at least one to three or more passes before the shot is taken. We are trying to force the goalie to open up his body to expose more shooting areas.

Strong positional play is also why you rarely see our Ducks giving up odd man attacks going back against us. Just like on defense we do send 3 and 4 guys low on occasion. This is almost always when we’re down a goal or two and playing high risk hockey in order to catch up.

The points I’m making here in this post is not so much the exceptions as in the immediately foregoing paragraph but rather the primary systems we employ. Regardless of whether your butt is in a seat at the rink or watching on tv, you can see all of these set formations as it happens and transitions.

Losing the puck and coming back is where each of our Ducks is really excelling this season. The one clue to how hard these guys are working out there is how often you see backside pressure on an opposing attacker. This is true grunt work in hockey.

If we have time to set up a trap we do, either in the opposition end or the traditional neutral zone trap. While backchecking we are also set up in a 1-2-2 or a 2-1-2 formation.

This has been a very long post but if you stayed with it I genuinely hope it has added to your appreciation and understanding of what you’re seeing out there on the ice.

Famed and accomplished NFL coach Bill Parcells said, “You are what your record says you are.” By that measure our 9-2-1 Anaheim Ducks are a pretty good hockey team. By every other measurable statistic our Ducks are a very good hockey club.

Ducks are second in the Western Conference trailing the team they beat last night by just two points. They’re first in the Pacific Division. Their 19 points of a possible 24 points available has them third in P% at a scintillating .792 rate. They’re scoring at the rate of 3.25 goals per game likewise places them third overall in the NHL. These Ducks are either best or second best in even strength situations. Our Ducks sport the seventh most efficient PP and next to last PK.

From my perspective Goal Differential is the single most significant measure of a hockey team, aside from total points of course. By this standard our +9 Ducks are tied for fifth overall. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that our Ducks are also fifth in most Power Rankings this week.

While the record is indeed a great one, the numbers don’t tell us how they’ve done it and why we watch. It’s really quite a story.

He might be a late bloomer as a GM. Maybe these Ducks prove the rule, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.” Regardless, Bob Murray has earned credit in more than just a couple of areas. This entire report reflects well on him as a late bloomer or as the metaphorical blind squirrel.
Following the trade of Chris Pronger and retirement of Scott Niedermayer our blue line was in shambles. It’s taken four seasons, perhaps not surprisingly to re-assemble an elite level blue line but our Bob has done it. He also put back the size and snarl into a lineup that just couldn’t match-up physically in recent seasons.
As important, our Ducks have three scoring lines again. Our Ducks are deep and the most complete hockey team since the Stanley Cup edition. Through signing UFA’s, excellent drafts and trades that are beginning to pay off three seasons after they were made, Bob Murray has assembled an NHL elite level hockey team.

By late November of 2011 the once feared Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks had hit rock bottom. Like a drunk experiencing his first day of sobriety, the change from Randy Carlyle to Bruce Boudreau breathed new life into the team. It took a few weeks but as the team bought in they went on a rip that brought them within four points of the playoffs. Just as suddenly and perhaps not coincidentally, the streak ended the day our Ducks moved past the trade deadline.
This shortened season our Ducks are experiencing their first full with an asterisk year under the new coach. System wise, our Ducks do nothing different from what hockey players have known their entire lives. System wise, our Ducks now play support the puck hockey, up and back. This system places a third man high in the offensive zone and brings a third man back to support the D. And yes, we trap in the neutral zone.
Another primary difference between  Coach Carlyle and Coach Boudreau is how each marshals his assets. Randy Carlyle relied upon his best players. Bruce Boudreau gives his depth players more time on the ice. As we’ve witnessed particularly in the past two games, Gabby will shorten his bench as he deems necessary in the third period.
BB is not so committed to tradition that he won’t show some creativity. For example, he surprised this observer by going back to No. 1 goalie Jonas Hiller after new guy on the block, Viktor Fasth earned a shutout. His forward lines are based on twosomes, Getzlaf/Perry, Ryan/Selanne, Koivu/Winnick and Bonino/Beleskey. He’ll move around his third forward based on instinct.
Last night Josh Brewster of Ducks Calls reported Coach referred to Daniel Winnick as his Brooks Laich. The go to player he can send over the boards in any situation.
In a move designed to spread out the scoring, and opposition defenses, he moved perennial 30+ goal scorer off the top line. Additionally, Coach has used Ryan to anchor the 2nd PP unit and has given it more TOI.
On the back-end Gabby has found a No. 1 pairing in new addition Sheldon Souray alongside Francois Beauchemein. This is the most hard-nosed pairing since hey day of Pronger-O’Donnell. New addition Bryan Allen will eventually be paired with the injured Cam Fowler. Toni Lydman and Luca Sbisa round the D pairings.
Not insignificantly our Ducks feature great depth along the blue line. They can call up future star Sami Vatanen or go with experienced hands of Ben Lovejoy, Nate Guenin or Jordan Hendry. Hampus Lindholm figures to get a look-see at the NHL level soon after he becomes available.

On the ice, where the games are won and lost, our Ducks are showing they have all the tangibles and intangibles necessary to compete  with the NHL’s best.
Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth have provided winning if not always great goaltending statistically speaking.
The hard-nosed guys, Staubitz, Allen, Souray, Beauchemin and Winnick are sticking up for our skill players. Allen and Souray are doing the job expected of them in the low slot in front of our goalies.
Knowing someone has their backs, the remarkable composure of Viktor Fasth and how Coach is marshaling his assets is having a positive effect on the team overall. These Ducks aren’t quitting and giving up on themselves or giving in to a natural instinct for retaliation, for the most part. The second Vancouver and the Dallas games as the exceptions that prove this rule.
Whether it’s the league’s 29th worst PK limiting the league’s top ranked team to just one shot in nearly 4 minutes of a 4 on 3 or the timely scoring provided by Daniel Winnick and the kids, these Ducks just find ways to win.
Incredibly our Ducks are doing it while their most heralded player, Corey Perry is in a slump and their best puck moving D-man is out on IR.

This isn’t to say that the wheels can’t come off. Anything from a player stepping out with the wife or significant other of another player to injuries can destroy a good or great hockey team.

What we can say is that our Ducks have met every challenge in their way so far this season. As one great coach said, “They are their record.”

Note: Ducks have sent forward Rickard Rakell back to the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. The moves leaves the full 3 seasons remaining on the player’s EL contract. Because no immediate announcement as to Rakell’s replacement is made, expect the Ryan to center experiment to continue with Koivu and Bonino moving up the depth chart if and when Coach elects to shorten his bench in the third period of close games.

There’s simply no arguing with success. Ducks are 3-1-1 with a .700 P%. while it’s totally unrealistic to expect our guys to maintain that torrid pace, it isn’t too early for some point form impressions:

Even Strength Dominance:

Ducks have earned a noticeable territorial advantage in play, eve including the humiliating 5-0 bad joke performance in the home opener. Primary reasons include a surprisingly 50.3 in FO%. Hockey is easier when start with the puck more often.
Another is the guys are buying into Coach Boudreau’s system. The forwards are coming back in support of the D. This makes for an all important shorter gap between the forwards and D. This helps in a couple-few areas; (1) match or outnumber the opposition at the puck more often, (2) We’re picking up more loose pucks, (3) Shorter passes in transition from defense to offense, (4) in the o-zone, we’re playing and executing 3rd man. Notice the more ticks on the clock between the departure of Randy Carlyle and the arrival of Bruce Boudreau that cz posts less often about us putting 3 guys below red line in the o-zone? This is why! we’re playing 3rd man high. It’s also why we have a guy coming back in support when we commit a turnover.
The team is making the transition from Randy Carlyle to Bruce Boudreau.
This isn’t to suggest you won’t see a Hail Mary pass or one of the Big D stepping up in the neutral and rocking the world of oncoming opposition rusher or even attempts at pressuring the puck carrier. The difference between RC and BB is we don’t try to manufacture those long shot plays. How we pressure and support the puck is radically different. Frankly, Gabby’s is the more traditional approach.

We’re bigger faster stronger than our Ducks of last season. Daniel Winnick is the closest thing to Sammy Pahlsson or Rob Neidermayer we’ve had in Anaheim since they departed. BTW, Pahlsson signed a 3 year contract with MODO of the Swedish Elite League last June. Winnick is exactly what we hoped for in Brad Winchester. Souray and Allen have put the snarl back on the blue line.

Individual efforts:

Ryan Getzlaf is moving his feet and dominating slot to slot.

Viktor Fasth, for one game at least, provided the solid backup goalkeeping missing last season.

Rickard Rakell looks like a keeper and may move up the depth chart or earn more TOI as the season rolls along.

We may have a Kid Line, which are always fun, in Rakell-Palmieri-Etem.

Matt Beleskey is looking more and more like the complete hockey player I hoped he’d become. Like Winnick and Kunitz, Homey’s game doesn’t change regardless of where he’s put in the lineup.

While the results aren’t showing yet, Corey Perry is buzzing around the opposition net and making things happen in the 0-zone. It’s only a matter of time.

Another in the not seeing the results show up in his offensive stats department is the steady play of Cam Fowler. We’ll take plus/minus 0 as a huge improvement.

Speaking of Cam, give some credit to the quietly and less noticeably effective play of Bryan Allen.

Between the individual efforts and more traditional positional structure we can count on most of the above impressions to be a staple of this condensed season.

You have to look far and wide on the blogosphere to find two guys who disagree more often than czhokej and me. To show that this is more conversation than debate though when we find evidence that supports the other’s view we share it.

Well I stumbled upon one today. Last season this blog addressed our Ducks woeful lack of success in the face-off circle. I postulated Face Off Winning Percentages were a team stat. CZ took the other side, advocating face off prowess is an individual stat. Well Bud read and grin because the most successful Ducks coach of all-time agrees with you:

via THN quote of the Day;

“The one thing that’s impressed us with Kadri was in the faceoff circle, a little area where one-on-one compete has to be high. He beat some of our veteran guys in our area to start with the puck. He has the skill set, he showed it before, he showed it in the American League. And we have to make a decision whether he can continue to make a contribution at the NHL level.”

- Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle on Nazem Kadri.

I seem to recall how emotional you were when Carlyle was canned and how you were always ready to comment on RC’s system. And well, when we find you and RC on the same page it’s blog worthy ;)