The effort was there, the fight was there, but the results simply were not. The Anaheim Ducks were shutout by the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 on Sunday night to drop their eighth straight game. The Ducks have just a one point lead on the second wild card spot, and appear to be spinning out of control. For the second time this season, the heat is turned all the way up on Head Coach Randy Carlyle.
Back in late October, the Ducks lost six straight games after a hot start to the season. After snapping the streak at seven in early November, the Ducks lost their first game after that to drop eight of nine. Heading into a Wednesday night tilt against the Flames on November 7th, word was the Ducks were close to making a change. They won that game, and righted the ship shortly after, to save their coach.
There may not be saving victory for Carlyle this time around. The Ducks played a strong first twenty minutes last night against the Oilers, but they couldn’t solve Cam Talbot and John Gibson was unable to steal a game for them the way he has so many nights this season. The frustrating was obvious, the Ducks threw a number of questionable hits and engaged after the whistle consistently, but they never came close on this night.
The Oilers, blown out and embarrassed on Saturday night in LA, were prime pickings for the Ducks. They flipped the script and blow the Ducks out of the water. A great sign for Ken Hitchcock may signal the end for Carlyle.
Is Change The Right Call?
Something has to give for the Ducks. They’ve made the playoffs in each of the last six seasons, and have an aging core group of players that is likely nearing the end of their run. If they don’t get it done in the next year or two, the Ducks likely aren’t winning a second Stanley Cup with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
I’d argue the change that needs to happen is in philosophy. It’s time to move some of these aging veterans for younger players and draft picks. The Ducks have a decent young core at the NHL level and some talent prospects coming up. This doesn’t need to be a long rebuild, just a year or two retooling like Boston accomplished a few seasons ago.
If the losing continues, that could still happen. After all, the Ducks looked over-matched and like they didn’t belong in the playoffs last season and they haven’t changed opinions on the matter early this season.
The first domino to fall is always the head coach, and Carlyle is currently on the verge. With the Ducks off until Wednesday, now seems like a good time to pull the trigger for GM Bob Murray.
Dallas Eakins Time?:
His first NHL tenure was a disaster with the Edmonton Oilers, but Dallas Eakins is going to get a second shot. He tried too much too quickly with the Oilers, who had a bad roster, and things went sideways fast. After returning to the AHL with the San Diego Gulls, Eakins is very much on NHL radars.
Most teams believe that while Eakins was far from perfect in Edmonton, that the situation did not help and that it was almost unfair for a rookie coach to lose his career over the tire-fire that was the 2013-14 and 2014-15 Edmonton Oilers. I’d argue that assessment is correct. Although Eakins did himself few favors in Edmonton, it was a bad spot.
This past summer, multiple NHL teams showed interest in Eakins as a head coaching option. Eakins elected to stay put in San Diego, as a source put it because he wants to be careful. When he returns to the NHL, it is going to be a more stable spot than what Edmonton was nearly six seasons ago.
Eakins is at the top of the list for the Ducks, and had they lost that game to the Flames in November I believe he would have been the man already. Do not be surprised if Eakins gets his second chance very soon with the Ducks.