May 18, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT
If you were to name the top 10 head coaches in the NHL, Bruce Boudreau would almost certainly factor in somewhere. Still, his lack of deep postseason success probably explains why his name rarely comes up in discussions regarding the absolute elite.
One can only wonder how different things might be if his Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks didn’t lose (and sometimes even totally flop) in Game 7 situations, though. Boudreau is now 1-5 in career playoff Game 7’s and his teams have frequently lost in ways that overshadowed fantastic regular seasons.
He’s been in those situations quite often, too. Boudreau has only avoided a seven-game series in 2010-11 (when the Capitals were swept in the second round) and 2011-12 (when he was fired 22 games into the season by Washington and couldn’t direct the Ducks into the postseason in 58 games).
Other than that, the pattern has been almost disturbing: outstanding regular seasons followed by crushing Game 7 defeats. Let’s take a look back.
Note: To keep things simple, remember that Boudreau’s team won its division in every season but 2011-12.
2007-08: Boudreau guides the Capitals to a 37-17-7 record in the 61 games he coached, earning his only Jack Adams Award in the process.
The Philadelphia Flyers beat Washington 3-2 in OT in Game 7 of a first-round series. Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin scored the Captials’ two goals in that game, but Joffrey Lupul beat Cristobal Huet for the game-winner in overtime.
2008-09: The Capitals went 50-24-8 for 108 standings points.
The 2009 postseason represents the first (and only) time Boudreau has won a playoff Game 7, as his team dispatched soon-to-be regular playoff opponent the New York Rangers in the first round. The Capitals fought back from 2-0 and 3-1 series deficits to win this series. They beat the Rangers 2-1 with Sergei Fedorov scoring the game-winner.
This set the stage for the memorable seven-game series against the Pittsburgh Penguins/a “Top this” showdown between Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. The decisive Game 7 was pretty much a bloodbath, though; Marc-Andre Fleury stopped an early Ovechkin chance and the Penguins built a 2-0 lead in the first period. They eventually dominated to a 6-2 win.
2009-10: The Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy by eight points with a fantastic 121-point regular season, yet they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games in a first-round series that doubled as Jaroslav Halak‘s peak. (Along with Halak helping the Habs beat Pittsburgh in seven games as well in round two.)
Game 7 against Montreal was another hard-luck loss for Washington in that series. Semyon Varlamov allowed two goals on 16 shots while Halak made 41 out of 42 saves. The Canadiens took the series with a 2-1 win in Game 7.
(Oddly enough, the Capitals went to two seven-game series during the 2011-12 season in which they fired Bruce Boudreau after just 22 games. Dale Hunter went 1-1 in those full-length series. In fact, Washington’s last two playoff series have been seven-game losses to the Rangers.)
2012-13: The venue and conference changed, but the results seemed unsettling in their similarities: another great regular season followed by a tough Game 7 loss (once again in the first round).
The Detroit Red Wings beat the Ducks 3-2 in Game 7 of their first-round series as an Anaheim comeback bid fell short.
2013-14: One cannot help but wonder what would have happened if the Ducks didn’t manage an unlikely third-period turnaround and overtime win in Game 6 against the Dallas Stars. They avoided a seventh game in the first round, but couldn’t do so against the Los Angeles Kings in round two.
You probably remember what happened on Friday, but if not, the Kings cruised to a 6-2 win.
CSNWashington.com’s Ben Raby points out the similarities between the Ducks falling to the Kings and the Capitals losing to the Penguins in respective second-round series:
Anaheim’s Game 7 loss to the Kings had an eerily similar feel as the Capitals’ 2009 Game 7 loss at home against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Consider that in both cases: 1) the home team had an early breakaway from its leading goal-scorer (Alex Ovechkin in 2009; Corey Perry in 2014) but could not convert, 2) Boudreau pulled his rookie starting goalie once the visitors took a 4-0 second period lead (Semyon Varlamov in 2009; John Gibson in 2014) and 3) the home team pulled within 5-1 late in the second frame, before ultimately falling by a 6-2 score.
Boudreau has to hope that his team can break this unsightly pattern sooner rather than later.
Apr 26, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT
Blues and Sens need wins to force Game 7
Apr 26, 2015, 12:07 AM EDT
Another big rally at the Saddledome.
Apr 25, 2015, 11:03 PM EDT
A six-game series that felt like (at least) seven.
Apr 25, 2015, 10:31 PM EDT
Wild stuff at the Saddledome tonight.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:59 PM EDT
Vancouver looking to avoid elimination for the second straight game.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:55 PM EDT
Zero goals in five playoff games.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:18 PM EDT
A healthy tally.
Apr 25, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT
Putting on a clinic.
Apr 25, 2015, 8:41 PM EDT
Corey Crawford’s back in.
Apr 25, 2015, 7:37 PM EDT
The Islanders won 3-1 in Game 6.
Apr 25, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT
No penalty on the play.
Apr 25, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT
He made his postseason debut in Game 4.
Apr 25, 2015, 6:03 PM EDT
Plenty of life on Long Island.
Apr 25, 2015, 5:48 PM EDT
Apr 25, 2015, 5:20 PM EDT
Keep this bounce in mind in the third period.
Apr 25, 2015, 4:58 PM EDT
He’s been ruled out of the series due to a rib injury.
Apr 25, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT
Carlson has his first of the playoffs.
Apr 25, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT
Kudos to the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and the Decatur Civic Center in Decatur, Illinois.
Apr 25, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT
He’ll backup for a fourth straight game.
Apr 25, 2015, 2:55 PM EDT
New York, Nashville and Vancouver are all facing elimination today.
- One more time, with feeling: Flames stage yet another comeback, eliminate Vancouver 15
- Keith conquers: Blackhawks come back, eliminate Predators 46
- Red Wings smother Lightning, take 3-2 series lead 20
- Going the distance: Isles edge Caps to force Game 7 34
- WATCH LIVE: Today’s Stanley Cup playoff action 6
- Lucic issues statement on father’s passing 10
- Hall caught off guard by Oilers’ front office shuffle 19
- Wild’s Dubnyk shakes off six-goal night, saves 36 as Blues pushed to brink 34
- WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action 5
- Malkin: ‘I want to say sorry to fans, to my teammates’ 58
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead (114)
- It’s Done: Rangers eliminate Penguins in overtime (108)
- Bettman under fire after saying ‘Katy Perry’ chant wasn’t sexist (92)
- Okposo blasts ‘idiot’ Wilson after physical outing versus Isles (82)
- Preds, Forsberg finally solve Darling, push series to Game 6 (76)