The Anaheim Ducks lost 4-2 to the Phoenix Coyotes last night. It was their 14th defeat in 16 games, pushing them to 6-11-4 and second from bottom in the Western Conference.
Needless to say, the team has problems. But Luca Sbisa thinks he knows what’s wrong.
“It seems like we’re scared of winning,” the Ducks defenseman told the OC Register. “We kind of forgot how to win. We have stretches were we play good hockey and we’re the team we’re supposed to be with the players in this room.
“As soon as we get a bad bounce or something or fall behind on the score, we kind of get scared. We stray away from the game plan.”
Before analyzing that quote, a quick note on Sbisa. His honesty is admirable, but should he really be the one to publicly opine about Anaheim’s fear of victory?
At 22, he’s one of the youngest players on the roster. Sure, there are youngsters in leadership roles throughout the NHL (Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Andrew Ladd) but come on — Sbisa is not one of those guys. It also seems really odd that a team featuring Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Toni Lydman, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry has been labeled as scared to win…by a 22-year-old Swiss kid with 136 games of NHL experience.
Anyway, back to Sbisa’s quote. One thing you can take from it is the sentiment that Anaheim’s struggles are about the players — not head coach Randy Carlyle. That’s something the Register’s Jeff Miller touched on earlier this week.
“Last spring, this same core group of players authored a staggering stretch to climb from out of the playoffs to the No. 4 seed in a deep, difficult Western Conference,” Miller writes. “And the Ducks did so without their All-Star goaltender. Know who else was there for that impressive surge? Carlyle, along with the same assistants he employs today.
“He wasn’t a detriment then, why is he suddenly one now?”
It’s a salient point. In August, the Ducks extended Carlyle’s contract through 2013-14 — which suggests he’s in for the long haul. I mean, nobody fires their coach just a few months after giving him a deal, right?
*cough* Tampa Bay Lightning *cough* Barry Melrose *cough*