Randy Carlyle is considered a defensive guru around NHL circles. The media are impressed with his Stanley Cup attained on the shoulders of defensive gems like Niedermayer and Pronger, and somehow overlook the ridiculously good goaltending his Ducks teams had in making it to the Stanley Cup. How is it ridiculous to assert that Carlyle is a good defensive coach while Wilson was a poor one, particularly when the Leafs are showing such improvement you say? Well - to be blunt - very.
Let's take a look at some of the numbers to see if there's really any veracity to the claims that Carlyle's "systems" are making the Leafs a sturdier defensive outfit.
First off - let us look at the claims that somehow Carlyle has shored up the Leafs shots from the inside vs. shots from the outside. Earlier in the season, James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail wrote a piece that praised Carlyle for employing a similar defensive scheme that has been used historically by Jacques Lemaire in New Jersey. Mark Fraser - who spent a number of years in the Devils organization - claimed that it was extremely effective there, and that working his way into it was easy because he found it so familiar.
What do the numbers say about actual results? Well - frankly there's no doubt in my mind that Carlyle's defensive scheme is at the minimum no improvement over Ron Wilson's in terms of where shots are being allowed from. Secondarily, I actually feel there is a solid chance that Carlyle's system is possibly worse in terms of shots allowed at dangerous distances.
Ok - so using Greg Sinclair's Super Shot Search to assess shot distances allowed at ES and on the PK, I explored Carlyle's last 3 full seasons in Anaheim, Wilson's last 3 full seasons in Toronto, and then what Carlyle has managed thus far this season. Unsurprisingly, there are some contradictions in the results.
The Randy Carlyle Coaching Myth
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