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Randy Carlyle Coaching Myths Part Two: Carlyle vs. Wilson

Randy Carlyle has presided over a good start to the season as the Leafs' coach. But how does his good start compare to last year's?

Ezra Shaw

Two weeks back Steve Burtch wrote the first part of what apparently needs to be an ongoing series of posts dispelling myths and misunderstandings surrounding Randy Carlyle's perceived coaching prowess with the Maple Leafs. Steve looked at the common, and incorrect, narrative that Carlyle has implemented "tight defensive systems" that have led to the Leafs success. This narrative was proven to be bunk through a myriad of methods and measurements. Now I'm hear to tackle yet another narrative; that Randy Carlyle is doing better than Ron Wilson.

Thanks to this handy dandy spreadsheet I kept last season, I have running totals and running paces for the Leafs' entire 2011-12 season. This will make it incredibly easy to take today's results and compare them against results from the same time (games played wise) last season. Here we go.

Team Results

Right now Randy Carlyle has the Leafs flying high with a record of 14-9-0, good for 28pts.

After 23 games played last year, Ron Wilson's Leafs had a record of 13-8-2, good for, yup, 28pts.

No way you can say Carlyle's Leafs are better than Wilson's Leafs at this point in the season.


This season the Leafs average 27.5 SF/G and 31.3 SA/G. This means they are a bad Corsi team, likely playing above their heads, and due to come back to Earth.

After 23 games last season the Leafs averaged 28.2 SF/G and 31.1 SA/G. As the season went on, the percentages caught up to them (see the PDO column) and the Leafs crashed hard once the bounces didn't go their way ultimately leading to a lottery finish.

So as far as shooting goes, Carlyle's Leafs are virtually identical to Wilson's Leafs (and perhaps worse if you look at Steve's data). But with the shortened season, there might not be enough time for the inevitable crash to occur so the Leafs great early play may just buoy their playoff chances.

Special Teams

Another area when I've seen Carlyle lauded and Wilson derided has been special teams.

Under Carlyle the Leafs PP is operated at 16.8%. Under Wilson? 22.73%; though that was down to 19.8% when he got canned.

When down a man, Carlyle's Leafs kill penalties at an 82.7% rate. Wilson's Leafs 77.8% through 23 games. That's 5% difference through 23 games played where the Leafs have been shorthanded 75 so far this season would be worth another 3.75 goals against which is probably worth a single extra loss. Not that big of a gap.


Nazem Kadri is on fire. So too are JVR and Matt Frattin when healthy, but are the Leafs?

Under Carlyle this year, the Leafs average 2.96 GF/G and 2.48 GA/G. (Despite getting outshot as I showed earlier.)

Under Wilson after 23gp last year, the Leafs averaged 3.09 GF/G and 3.13 GA/G.

Finally we have a point of contention between the two coaches. Scoring is down a bit under Carlyle; the loss of Joffrey Lupul plays no small part, while getting scored upon is a much less frequent event. How is that possible?


So why does Carlyle get so much praise and Wilson get dumped on? The long and short answer is goaltending. Last year Wilson's Leafs had great success early in the season in spite of the horrific goaltending (0.899 sv% thru 23 games played) they were getting once Reimer went down and it was the Gustavsson and Scrivens 1.0 show. But now, despite getting drastically outshot every game, the Leafs netsminders are putting up a 0.923 sv% so far and the team is squeaking out victories that should be defeats.

What's that old saying? Show me a good coach and I'll you show a good goaltender playing for him? (Hell, that's the only reason Lindy Ruff stay employed for as long as he did.) Last year, Brian Burke gave Ron Wilson terrible goaltenders and he got fired because of it. But this year, Reimer and Scrivens are carrying this Leafs team and Randy Carlyle is getting all the praise. What a joke.

This post brought to you by Rule 5.