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.
May 28, 2015, 3:48 PM EDT
Meanwhile, in the West, Corey Crawford has the edge in big-game experience over Frederik Andersen.
May 28, 2015, 3:39 PM EDT
Was set to become a UFA on July 1.
May 28, 2015, 3:26 PM EDT
Bit of a theme developing here…
May 28, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT
Pens to receive third-round pick in 2016 as compensation.
May 28, 2015, 2:21 PM EDT
After scoring 80 points in 56 games for Youngstown.
May 28, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT
Rangers goalie knows he can’t rely on history to defeat the Lightning.
May 28, 2015, 1:04 PM EDT
The former Penguins coach is still under contract to Pittsburgh.
May 28, 2015, 12:27 PM EDT
Former Preds forward, who played for Roy in junior, is currently with KHL club CSKA.
May 28, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT
Has spent the past three seasons coaching the Flyers’ AHL affiliate.
May 28, 2015, 12:05 PM EDT
Spent part of last season with the Bruins
May 28, 2015, 11:49 AM EDT
Which they lost by a score of 6-2.
May 28, 2015, 11:41 AM EDT
Which is next Wednesday.
May 28, 2015, 10:50 AM EDT
The former led Canada to gold at the most recent World Junior tourney.
May 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
May 28, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
Both forwards are New Jersey draft picks.
May 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
His contract will expire after 2015-16.
May 28, 2015, 8:15 AM EDT
Thursday’s collection of links.
May 27, 2015, 11:47 PM EDT
He wasn’t the only Anaheim player that deserved to be blamed tonight.
May 27, 2015, 11:01 PM EDT
Chicago endured Anaheim’s comeback attempt to win this one.
May 27, 2015, 10:29 PM EDT
The Ducks might have caught a break there.
- Sabres name Bylsma head coach 12
- Lundqvist on Game 7: ‘You’re definitely nervous, but it comes down to teamwork’ 5
- Report: Bylsma to Sabres being held up by compensation issue 51
- Stanley Cup Final to begin June 3 5
- Caps’ Backstrom undergoes arthroscopic hip surgery 3
- Report: Sens’ Murray to retire after next season 0
- Of course: ‘Hawks, Ducks’ back-and-forth series is going to Game 7 48
- WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Blackhawks, Western Conference Final Game 6 1
- As Bolts deal with illness, extra day of rest could prove beneficial 11
- Sounds like it’s Rundblad, not TVR, in for Chicago on defense 17
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ (75)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks (66)
- On Kreider, and trying ‘to turn the other cheek’ (54)
- Fetisov wants to restrict young Russians from playing in the NHL (53)