The Ducks lost for the seventh consecutive time, and are now just one game shy of tying their franchise record losing streak of eight games set in 1996. Randy Carlyle is surely on the hot seat amid this stretch, and the Ducks could be playing to save his job. Here’s what we learned from the Ducks’ 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday:
The Ducks still are missing several key players to injury, and that’s likely buying Carlyle time, but he can’t feel safe. After all, the coach was already fired once by Ducks general manager Bob Murray. That was in 2011, after the Carlyle-led squad endured losing streaks of six and seven in a span of 24 games.
Carlyle was fired on Nov. 30 of that year. Now, he finds himself in a familiar spot. Will Murray be more patient in Carlyle’s second go-around with the team?
The team doesn’t appear to be playing within any kind of rigid structure. The speed is lacking, as is the physicality Carlyle teams are known for.
It’s a good sign the Ducks were able to tie Thursday’s contest with just 25.3 seconds to at least collect one point, and maybe it will lead to a winning streak. Carlyle needs it in the worst way.
“It’s hard to be positive with a loss, but a lot of good things happened with our group,” Carlyle said. “We were a much better hockey club – a much different hockey club – tonight than we were in the previous six or seven games. We were more tenacious and strong around the puck.
“We broke the puck out more effectively. There was an overall improvement in our group’s possession time with the puck.”
The Ducks are constantly playing from behind, a recipe for failure given their lack of premium scoring options. They’ve allowed the opposing team to score first in five consecutive games, including three of those at home. They’ve scored three goals or more just three times in 14 games.
Surely, some of the returning players can help fill that void. Ondrej Kase, the team’s most dynamic skating forward, remains day-to-day with a concussion. He’s yet to play this season after breaking out last campaign with 20 goals.
Patrick Eaves, who netted 32 goals in 2016-17, returned Thursday for his first action in over one year, but he was limited to just over 10 minutes of ice time.
“It was exciting to be out there,” said Eaves, who struggled with post-viral illness and then a lengthy rehab following shoulder surgery. “Getting into game action, it was a very exciting night.
“It’s been a while. It was a long road to get back here, and there were a ton of people that helped out. It was pretty cool to see all their hard work.”
Ryan Getzlaf continues to produce no matter the circumstances. The captain averaged over one point per game last season, and he’s setting the same torrid pace again.
Getzlaf is riding a four-game point streak, and three of those contests were multipoint performances.
The top-line centerman has 10 points in nine games, including a highlight-reel slap-pass to Rickard Rakell for the game-tying goal Thursday.
If anyone is going to bring them out of this rut, it’ll be Getzlaf, with both his incredible vision on the ice and his stern leadership in the locker room.