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Struggling Ducks say Carlyle’s job safe for now

The Anaheim Ducks are winless in their past 11 games, losing to the Winnipeg Jets in overtime on Sunday. In theory, coach Randy Carlyle’s seat couldn’t be hotter. But his general manager said Carlyle’s job is safe — for now.

“While it’s not my preference to make comments on this topic during the season, our recent play has led to many questions. Our fans are frustrated, rightfully so, and deserve a response from me,” Anaheim GM Bob Murray said in a statement Sunday after the Ducks’ 4-3 overtime loss at Winnipeg.

“At this time, I am not considering a coaching change. I am more focused on our players, specifically with who is going to step up in this situation. The way we played tonight was a step in the right direction, but we need much, much more. We have higher expectations for this group, and they should expect more from themselves.”

The Ducks (19-18-9, 47 points) haven’t won since Dec. 17, having gone 0-7-4 since then. They’ve been outscored 40-19 during that stretch. When the streak began, Anaheim was third in the Pacific Division, just three points out of first place. Now, the Ducks are in a three-way tie in points with Minnesota and Vancouver for the final wild-card spot, and are 15 points out of the top spot of the division.

Anaheim has been hanging by a thread for most of the season. It’s the second-worst offensive team in the league at 2.37 goals per game and fourth-worst in shot-attempt percentage at even strength (47.32 Corsi percentage). The Ducks have a minus-28 goal differential, third-worst in the conference. Goalie John Gibson had almost single-handedly kept them in contention, with a .920 save percentage in 38 games and 14.05 goals saved above average.

These deficiencies and their current losing streak would seem to spell the end for Carlyle, who is in the final year of his contract. He was asked about his status after the Ducks’ loss to Pittsburgh on Friday night. Said Carlyle, to the reporter, before storming away: “What do you mean? What are you trying to say? … Don’t ask the dumb question.”

Murray’s backing of Carlyle comes as Anaheim faces a stretch where 13 of its next 17 games are on the road. The Ducks are 9-11-3 away from home.

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