Skip to content

Big games haven’t been kind to Bruce Boudreau

May 18, 2014, 9:45 PM EST

Bruce Boudreau AP

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.

Washington years

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.)

Anaheim years

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Hawks put Versteeg on LTIR, recall Rasmussen

    Jan 25, 2015, 6:43 PM EST

    Kris Versteeg Getty Images

    Chicago will resume play on Wednesday against Los Angeles.

  2. Video: Foligno sets up Johansen to delight of hometown crowd

    Jan 25, 2015, 6:18 PM EST

    Johansen goal

    Johansen scored again before the first period ended.

  3. Video: Vrbata opens scoring in All-Star Game debut

    Jan 25, 2015, 5:43 PM EST

    Vrbata

    Vancouver forward gets Team Foligno on the board early.

  4. Byfuglien’s neon skates, More GoPro fun, other All-Star bits

    Jan 25, 2015, 4:58 PM EST

    buffyneon

    A grab bag of fun as the game rapidly approaches.

  5. Get your game notes: Team Toews vs. Team Foligno

    Jan 25, 2015, 4:30 PM EST

    Johnny Gaudreau Johnny Gaudreau

    It’s the 2015 NHL All-Star Game from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, on NBCSN.

  6. WATCH LIVE: 2015 NHL All-Star Game

    Jan 25, 2015, 3:33 PM EST

    2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game Getty Images

    Team Foligno and Team Toews square off.

  7. Ovechkin’s quest for a free car continues

    Jan 25, 2015, 12:48 PM EST

    Washington Capitals v Calgary Flames Getty Images

    He has more control over his chances in the All-Star Game itself.

  8. Out for at least a month, Bobrovsky laments missing All-Star game

    Jan 25, 2015, 10:50 AM EST

    Nashville Predators v Columbus Blue Jackets Getty Images

    A rare opportunity sidetracked by his groin injury.

  9. Report: Lightning’s Johnson may sit out All-Star game

    Jan 25, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    Tyler Johnson Getty Images

    It sounds like he won’t face the same headaches as others who skipped the event.

  10. Video: Luongo sprawls out to rob Sekac in shootout

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:41 PM EST

    Roberto Luongo Getty Images

    Florida’s All-Star goalie never gave up on it.

  11. Video: Weber wins hardest shot with 108.5 mph blast

    Jan 24, 2015, 9:14 PM EST

    Shea Weber AP

    Just 0.3 away from Zdeno Chara’s all-time record.

  12. Video: Lightning’s Drouin wins fastest skater

    Jan 24, 2015, 7:55 PM EST

    JonathanDrouin2 Getty Images

    Team Foligno sweeps first competition.

Featured video

Who will excite most in All-Star game?
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. K. Letang (3412)
  2. P. Hornqvist (3118)
  3. S. Crosby (2957)
  4. J. Ortio (2869)
  5. C. Price (2762)
  1. E. Malkin (2641)
  2. S. Bobrovsky (2255)
  3. K. Versteeg (1814)
  4. Z. Rinaldo (1733)
  5. P. Rinne (1723)