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Under Pressure: Bruce Boudreau

Aug 5, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

Bruce Boudreau Getty Images

“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the Anaheim Ducks we pick… coach Bruce Boudreau.

Let’s get one thing straight here before we get rolling: Bruce Boudreau has been a great coach for the Anaheim Ducks.

Ever since he replaced Randy Carlyle behind the bench in Orange County, all he’s done is get things turned in the right direction. In his two-and-a-half seasons, the team has only steadily gotten better under his watch. During the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the Ducks won the Pacific Division and were one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Last season they were the best team in the West in the regular season.

As we know, the playoffs are what pays off and that’s where things have gone bad for the Ducks.

Two seasons ago they were bounced out by the seventh seeded Detroit Red Wings in seven games. This past season, they survived the first round against the eighth seeded Dallas Stars in six games only to lose in the second round to their hated rivals – the Los Angeles Kings – in seven.

If the story line about having dominant regular seasons only to come up short in the playoffs sounds familiar for a Boudreau-coached team, just imagine how he feels after his time with the Washington Capitals.

On the upside, it seems like Boudreau hasn’t taken the loss to the Kings as poorly as he did the Caps’ failure against the Montreal Canadiens in 2010, but with great success over the 82-game schedule comes expectations that playoff success will follow. After seeing L.A. win the Cup twice in three seasons, the pressure is even higher for the Ducks to win it again for the first time since 2007.

The Ducks have the talent to compete for the Cup. With Ryan Getzlaf playing like an MVP, Corey Perry scoring goals in bunches, a young defensive corps that will get better each year, and goaltending coming out their ears, everything is lined up to win.

The problem Boudreau has is he’s in a brutal Western Conference where success doesn’t come easily. He has a very good team to work with, but figuring out how to beat the likes of L.A., Chicago, St. Louis, and San Jose is what he’s got to do if he’s going to ever win that elusive Stanley Cup.

  1. govtminion - Aug 5, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    Boudreau kind of has that Andy Reid feel to him right now… he’s going to have a lot of success running your team, right up until it matters most, and then… well, things go pear-shaped on him quickly. Maybe not fair based on the body of work we have to work off with him so far, but the bottom line is that he’s failed to get very powerful teams over the hump so far. Hoping this is the year he’s able to start really getting some success going so he can shake that reputation.

    • ballistictrajectory - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      …body of work…

      He’s done the same thing everywhere he’s coached. The Manchester Monarchs were a regular division winner and top seed in the AHL playoffs. Same thing every year. 1st or 2nd round exit.

      Then he went to the Washington organization. I didn’t follow Hershey since they’re in the other division, but I believe they got their most recent Calder Cups after he moved up to the Capitals.

      • govtminion - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        I’ll admit I was just going off the sample we have from his NHL days, but you do bring up some very good points there. Good call.

      • ayblincoln - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        Nope. He coached his teams to the IHL finals in 94, the ECHL finals in 99, won the Calder Cup in 06 with the bears and got back to the finals in 07.

      • forsch31 - Aug 6, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        Yep, except his 1999 ECHL team won the championship as well.

  2. patthehockeyfan - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    ” … if he’s going to ever win that elusive Stanley Cup.”

    IF is the biggest little word in the English language.

    If … (there’s that word again) … If John Gibson can continue to have success as he did in his rookie season last year (brief as it was at the NHL level), the Ducks definitely have a shot at going far in the playoffs.

    I still think Boudreau will find a way to screw it up, though. He always does.

    • stixzidinia - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:59 PM

      What has he done to screw it up? Please be specific. If you’re going to go with the generic fan response of “he doesn’t make proper adjustments” then be specific about which adjustments he should have made and to counter what specifically.

      • areaman714 - Aug 5, 2014 at 7:53 PM

        If BB gets fired by the Ducks, he gets hired the next day.

  3. dipthatchip - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    I’ll always wonder what the could have happened if the Caps didn’t piss away a 3-1 series lead against the Habs in 2010. Damn you Halak!

  4. lowenni - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Once again I think Boudreau gets a lot of blame when his team hasn’t been ready to go over the hump. Sure, Getzlaf and Perry can carry the team during the regular season, the same way Sid and Geno do in Pittsburgh, or how Ovi and Backstrom did when Boudreau was there and they had no 2C, but the team doesn’t have the elite depth to compete. Now they do with Kesler, and if they don’t make it over the hump this time, THEN he should be on the hotseat. It’s not fair to say that he hasn’t managed to make it to the Conference Finals when come playoff time his team simply wasn’t as good enough to compete with the Blues, Hawks, or Kings, even if they finished ahead of them in the standings.

    • lowenni - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      *although losing to Detroit last year was a bit of a letdown, but Mike Babcock, so…

    • trick9 - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      Ducks still don’t have nowhere near the supporting cast for Getzlaf and Perry to win the Cup again. They don’t have a single D that would crack other top teams top D pairing, and they are trying to run with a rookie goalie when they are up against Quick every single year they want to win the Cup. Hawks and Kings both have superior forward and defense groups overally, and Kings have superior goaltending aswell.

      He’s doing a good job but the expectations are ridiculous, as his GM hasn’t yet given him the team that should be expected to win the West, let alone the Cup.

  5. areaman714 - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Well. He has been with the Ducks for two and a half years after taking over a team that was a mess at the time. He has guided them to two of the most successful regular seasons in club history. As a Ducks fan, I will take that for now.

    The only issue I have with BB is his handling/mishandling of the goalies in the playoffs. (I recall him also rolling the dice with his goalies when he was with the Caps, no?) I still think you have to go with the veteran in the playoffs as they tend to swallow up young goalies (see Andersen against the Stars and Gibson’s game 7 against the Kings). This was compounded by the fact that three of their defensemen were 22 and younger and on was a teenager. I was at that game and they looked like deers in headlights during that aforementioned game seven against a much more playoff savvy Kings team. Three defensemen and a goalie all under 22 will almost never add up to a game seven win in the NHL playoffs.

    Having said that. I have seen enough of Gibson to believe that he is going to be a monster. His save percentage on his glove side has to be a subjective 98 percent.

  6. phtjoey - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:21 PM

    “Bruce Boudreau has been a great coach for the Anaheim Ducks” I disagree completely. that’s a bit of an exaggeration. he’s been very good at best. GMs don’t publicly call out great coaches, and great coaches perform their job exceptionally well during the 5 phases of the year; 1) off season 2) training camp 3) regular season 4) first thee rounds of the playoffs 5) SC Final

    “Boudreau needs to be better in playoffs” -Bob Murray

    http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2014/05/20/ducks-gm-murray-boudreau-needs-to-be-better-in-playoffs/

    • stixzidinia - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      Or maybe the GM is just a jackoff who’s responsible for the weaknesses on the roster making a ridiculous statement about his coach. Also, you think he’s been very good “but not great” and so you “disagree completely” with the stance in this article? Ummm…..ok.

  7. sjsharks66 - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Really? Boudreau has really turned the Ducks around. I don’t think there is any pressure.

    • areaman714 - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      Yeah. The Ducks have played at an elite level for the last two seasons. Gaborik goes off and plays the series of his life against the Ducks and the Kings advance. The Ducks are much much closer than some of these posters think . . .

      • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:55 PM

        Agreed. Losing to the the SC champs in 7 is no disgrace

  8. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    Unless the Kings get knocked off in the 1st round, I don’t see th Ducks getting to the WC finals. The key reason is less depth than the Kings. If they make it to the WC finals, they’d face a deeper ,hawks or Blues team.

    I posted this on the 1st article, way after the article came out, so I’ll repeat a relevent stat – playoff win %. The coaches of the top 4 teams in the WC (my opinion of course, but one that would be shared by many)

    Quennville .547
    Sutter .533
    Hitchcock .521
    Boudreau .474

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