The Anaheim Ducks are in free-fall mode. They’ve lost six straight and nine of 10. They’re last in the Pacific Division, second from last in the Western Conference and fifth from last in the league.
The reasons for this are plenty. The Ducks aren’t scoring goals (only the Islanders have fewer), rank dead last in shots on goal and are the league’s second-worst faceoff team.
Head coach Randy Carlyle has a solution, though.
“It’s an area we can improve on, improve our compete level for the puck,” Carlyle told the OC Register. “To tell you the truth the opposition is doing a better job cheating, and when our young guys say anything they seem to be having their P’s and Q’s straightened out by the referees. But some of our veteran guys simply have to get better at it, simple as that.”
That faceoff stat is troubling for a team with good depth down the middle in Ryan Getzlaf, Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano. All three are veterans, yet Koivu’s the only player over the .500 mark with 142 faceoff wins to 130 losses. Getzlaf ? He’s at 46.6 percent. Cogliano’s at 32.9. Rookie Maxime Macenauer has been somewhat adept by going 48.4 percent in the circle, but he’s still losing more than he’s winning.
And herein lies the problem with Carlyle’s curious explanation — his young guys might be getting straightened out, but his young guys aren’t taking many draws. Macenauer is third on the team in total faceoffs, but he’s not main culprit. Four of Anaheim’s five most active faceoff men (Koivu, Getzlaf, Cogliano and Teemu Selanne) all have at least five years of NHL experience, and they’re all losing a ton of draws.
One has to wonder if Carlyle could become the league’s second coaching casualty of the year. He’s been in Anaheim since 2005 — the NHL’s fourth-longest tenured bench boss — and players might’ve finally tired of/tuned out his grumpy, occasionally grouchy style.
Things don’t get any easier for the Ducks in coming weeks, either. While eight of their next 10 are at home, they host Vancouver, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Toronto, Montreal and Philadelphia…and the Ducks are only .500 at the Honda Center this season.