Carlyle’s tactics have long been a sticking point for many fans causing a pretty big divide between the compete and calculus crowd, but as the losses piled up the divide became noticeably smaller as even those that shouted “He won a Cup!” from the rooftops couldn’t deny that the process just wasn’t working.
Yes, this team is still on pace for 95 points, but they certainly aren’t playing like one that belongs in the playoffs and their most recent losing skid has only amplified the problems that beget this team. Night after night the Leafs get dominated by literally any team, and night after night there’s no explanation.
Mind boggling, right?
Carlyle will get credit for bringing this team to the playoffs two years ago, but that team wasn’t getting anywhere close without Vezina calibre goaltending. That hasn’t changed, and while they may be above .500 now, that would inevitably implode sometime soon if the Leafs keep playing the way they have been.
Carlyle didn’t get fired because of that most recent skid though, the last loss being an embarrassing one to a depleted Jets team. This isn’t a panic move to save the season because of a few losses, this is Carlyle failing his evaluation, his second chance to show he can turn the ship around. In reality, Carlyle should’ve been fired after last season’s epic collapse. It was an obvious mistake at the time because Carlyle was clearly the problem, or at least the biggest one. Shanahan and co. needed to buy time to evaluate the team, but evaluating a team that’s being shackled is a fool’s errand.
To think the Leafs suddenly weren’t playing well is wrong, they haven’t been playing well for a while, the losing streak, the embarrassing defeats, they were likely the last straw.
No, the losses can’t solely be pinned on the head coach, and you can blame the players if you want, there’s definitely fault there, but it’s certainly interesting that good players become ashes when they arrive and resurrect like a phoenix once they leave. It’s been clear for awhile now that what Carlyle is preaching is not working. It hasn’t worked from day one.
The Leafs have been a brutal possession team that has cratered near the bottom of the league under Carlyle. This tweet by @SkinnyPPPhish is evidence of that.
Just one steep decline. Since he was hired, the Leafs are second last in Score Adjusted Corsi ahead of only Buffalo. The thing that correlates to future winning most and the Leafs are hanging out with a team that is actively trying to lose.
And I’ll hear some people say “I can’t believe the Leafs are losing to _______.” Really? During his tenure, the Leafs have a positive Score Adjusted Corsi against just two teams: Buffalo and Colorado. Every single team that plays Toronto, outplays Toronto.
Maybe, you don’t buy advanced stats though. So let’s just forget them. Forget 5-on-5 play. Let’s use every situation, and let’s use just good ol’ shots. Being outshot is bad, that’s something everyone can agree on, right?
195 games. 186 distinct 10 game stretches. How many times did the Leafs collectively outshoot their opponents over any 10 game stretch? Twice. Twice. Just twice. TWICE. Literally, 1 percent of the time. Over the entire tenure, the Leafs have surrendered 1291 more shots than their opponents.
You. Can’t. Win. Like. That.
And you can’t even see those two good instances above. Because it was by exactly one shot each time. How about individual games? In that case, the Leafs have outshot the other team a grand total of 48 times. One of every four games.
The Leafs hemorrhage shots on a nightly basis and need goaltending to bail them out every night. When that well dries, you get ugly, ugly hockey. Ugly hockey we all watched over the past few weeks as the Leafs dropped seven of their last nine. But it’s been ugly when they win too. Hemmed in their own zone for minutes at a time, praying that dam doesn’t burst open.
There is no doubt in my mind that this team has the talent to compete, to make a push for the playoffs. But we would’ve never seen that with Carlyle at the helm; a coach that has proven too stubborn to change what clearly wasn’t working. Maybe he wasn’t the problem, maybe it runs deeper than that. But he wasn’t the solution, and his departure was long overdue.
Today, Leafs Nation was relieved of Randy Carlyle.