It appears that Ducks’ coach Randy Carlyle may be forced to move away from his old-school checking line and into a power-vs.-power arrangement with his three checkers all departed from the team.

Carlyle’s certainly cognizant of the fact; indeed he suggested that it was time for Perry and Getzlaf to step into a power-vs.-power role. As a side point, it will be interesting to see how much their new assignment impacts their offensive numbers.

-Hockey or Die!, September 16, 2009

I’d hoped to include the original Carlyle quote I refer to above, but unfortunately the original link doesn’t work, and the article that contained it has vanished from the face of the internet. In any case, the gist of it was that whereas in previous years the trio of Samuel Pahlsson, Travis Moen, and Rob Niedermayer had handled checking duties against the top lines of other teams, this season the Anaheim Ducks would need to send out Ryan Getzlaf’s line against those units.

Jason Gregor brought this to mind when he asked what was happening to the trio of Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan:

What is up in Anaheim? Ryan Getzlaf has three assists; Bobby Ryan has one goal and an assist. Only Corey Perry is producing with four goals and three helpers. Some thought this trio would be the best line in hockey this year, but they aren’t even close so far.

I suspect that a lot of it has to do with the change in role for the trio. It’s early (too early to be using Desjardins’ Quality of Competition stat) so it may be just a temporary cold streak too, but let’s compare where this trio is starting on the ice this year as opposed to last year.

Percentage of Faceoffs in the Offensive Zone

The following is a fairly simple measurement, courtesy of behindthenet.ca, which calculates what percentage of faceoffs a player was on for started in the offensive zone. It only counts offensive/defensive zone draws, so if a player takes three faceoffs in each of the three zones, it will spit out 50%. Here are the numbers:

2008-09:

  • Bobby Ryan: 62.3%
  • Ryan Getzlaf: 57.3%
  • Corey Perry: 57.0%
  • Travis Moen: 41.9%*
  • Rob Niedermayer: 40.9%
  • Samuel Pahlsson: 40.7%**

*also includes his San Jose numbers

**also includes his Chicago numbers

2009-10

  • Corey Perry: 42.1%
  • Bobby Ryan: 40.0%
  • Ryan Getzlaf: 37.1%

That’s an incredibly steep drop. Keying on Getzlaf, over the course of an entire season it’s the difference between starting in the offensive zone 82 more times than the defensive zone, and starting in the offensive zone 148 fewer times than the defensive zone – a 230 faceoff per season shift. This doubtless also applies to line changes, with Getzlaf also coming on more when the puck is going the wrong direction.

A coach can do a lot to influence the success or failure of a player. No doubt Randy Carlyle isn’t trying to submarine his best forwards, but he is testing them with the most difficult minutes for the first time in their young careers. It will probably make them better players over the long haul, but there are bound to be growing pains.