A couple of days ago was Anaheim Ducks day on ProHockeyTalk.com and one of the articles they posted during the day was on the question of whether or not Bruce Boudreau was an elite NHL coach. The first thing I thought was, “Absolutely not! That shouldn’t even be a question.” Well, it may seem a bit rough, but it’s true. Some Ducks fans may agree with me but there may be some who don’t.
Yeah, it was great when he came in and things turned around so quickly. And yes, he is partly responsible for the “last-to-first” turnaround this past season. However, I think I need to make sure that all Ducks fans are made aware that he ISN’T an elite NHL coach. More specifically, for the Ducks fans who are still drinking the Boudreau kool-aid. He’s a good NHL coach, but he’s not elite. He’s had a lot of success, yes, but all in the regular season, obviously.
This past playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings should’ve made it clear to all Ducks fans how Boudreau is not an elite NHL coach. He was pitted up against Mike Babcock, arguably the best coach in the entire league, and the series was embarrassingly in Babcock’s favor when it came to a battle of the minds. Babcock coached circles around Boudreau. Game 7 at Honda Center was the biggest eye opener, in my opinion, on just how badly the Ducks were out-coached in that series. I think we can all remember how brutal that Game 7 was to watch.
Just a quick look at Boudreau’s playoff record. He’s 20-24 in the postseason as head coach. He’s been to the playoffs five out of six times. He’s 2-3 in the conference quarterfinal round. He’s 0-2 in the conference semifinal round. His first playoff year (2007-08) his Capitals team was the #3 seed and lost in 7 games to the 6th-seeded Philadelphia Flyers, who would go on to the Eastern Conference Finals. The next year, his Capitals were the #2 seed and would defeat the #7 seeded New York Rangers in 7 games in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, but would lose to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in 7 games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. At the same time, the Ducks would be eliminated in 7 games by the Red Wings. The next year, his Capitals won the President’s Trophy with 121 points and were the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference but would lose in 7 games to the 8th-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the Conference Quarterfinals. Those Canadiens would then upset the Penguins and move on to the Conference Finals, but lose to the Flyers. The Capitals would again be the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference the next year and would defeat the 8th-seeded Rangers in 5 games to move on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. However, the Caps would get swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in that Semifinal. Boudreau would then get axed by the Caps and hired by the Ducks the very next season.
Now, don’t think I don’t like Boudreau, that’s not the case. However, I do have my doubts as to whether or not he could be the guy to lead us to another possible deep playoff run or Stanley Cup run. Then again, we haven’t won a playoff series since 2009 when we upended the President Trophy-winning San Jose Sharks in 6 games. (oh, how sweet that was!) Can he do it? Of course, there’s always a possibility, but I think I can safely say that all Ducks fans should have there doubts. In my last appearance on NHL On the Ice with Yates and Ames, which was the day of that awful Game 7 against Detroit, I was given a warning by a Washington Capitals fan. The previous guest was from EA Sports and was there to talk about the next version of the NHL video game franchise. That same Capitals fan gave a suggestion, “the chance to replay Game 7′s” simply so he could have a chance to go back and replay the Game 7′s his Capitals lost with Boudreau at the helm, he lost three Game 7′s as head coach of the Capitals. His one sentence of warning? “Get used to it.”
So Ducks fans, we may simply just need to “get used to it.” Or, maybe Bruce will finally breakthrough and win the big game. For our sake and this team’s sake, I hope so and I hope it’s sooner rather than later.