by PuckStopsHere on 10/11/10 at 11:54 PM ET
It’s very early in the NHL season. It is far too early to celebrate when your team is off to a fast start and it is far too early to panic when your team is off to a slow start. The team that has had the most remarkable start, either good or bad is probably the Anaheim Ducks. In three games played so far, Anaheim has three losses. They have only scored two goals so far this season, which gives them the worst goals scored per game in the league. They have allowed 13 goals, which is third worst in the league. That gives them the worst team +/- of -11 in the league. Anaheim’s best game to date was a 4-1 loss to Nashville, where they were outshot 49-37.
There are Anaheim fans panicking, but it’s far too early for this. Every team has a few weak games over the course of a season. It looks more important than it is when there are no strong games played as well, since it is the beginning of the season.
The Anaheim Ducks have some talented offensive players in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. It is just a matter of time before they start scoring. Thus far none of them have any points. At this point, only Saku Koivu has scored a goal for Anaheim and he has scored two of them. Teemu Selanne and rookie Cam Fowler are the only other players with points so far, as they have one assist each. That is a clearly unsustainably bad offence. Merely by changing nothing, things will get better. There is too much talent to be this bad.
In goal, Jonas Hiller has lost all three games, but he hasn’t played badly. He has a .905 saves percentage, which is acceptable. The problem is Anaheim has allowed over 48 shots against per game. That is unsustainably bad. Last year, Florida allowed the most shots per game at slightly over 34 shots per game or about 30% better than Anaheim has been so far. We did expect that Anaheim might not have a strong defence, given Scott Niedermayer’s retirement and given that of their top three defencemen in terms of ice time, only Lubomir Visnovsky is a proven NHLer (the other two are Cam Fowler and Brendan Mikkelson).
Anaheim is not likely a playoff team this year, but I bet they are in the race for a berth through most of the season.
If the Anaheim organization panics, they might fire head coach Randy Carlyle, who won the 2007 Stanley Cup as the Ducks coach. There is an hfboards thread predicting it. This shows a point about coaching very clearly. People do not know how to rate coaches, here is something I wrote about this topic a few years ago. Randy Carlyle has been considered the best coach in hockey by some. Here is an ESPN post that picks him as the best coach in the game. People are far too ready to credit team success to the coach whether or not he is responsible and bring blame to the coach for team failures regardless of whether or not he is responsible.
It’s never good to play three games as badly as Anaheim has so far. It’s also an unsustainably bad result. Anaheim will be better. I think they could finish slightly below the middle of the league this year and when they do this start will be a forgotten memory. Things will not stay this bad. It is far too early to panic.
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