Mar 29, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau reacts during the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Anaheim won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Boudreau Is Not An Elite Coach


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.

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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Bruce Boudreau Detroit Red Wings Featured NHL Popular Washington Capitals

  • Nick M.

    That was an insanely poor piece of “analytical” writing. I don’t know if I can even comment on it. You failed to illuminate anything beyond “he has a poor playoff record and couldn’t get it done with Ovy and the Caps.” Sentences like “I think we can all remember how brutal that game 7 was to watch,” with no further analysis of exactly how he was out-coached, does nothing to illuminate or analyze the premise of this article.

    You even throw out conjecture and questions that, assumedly, are meant to be expanded on and answered. But you never do.

    Thanks for wasting enough of my time and brain cells that I felt compelled to tell you that you are a poor writer and know nothing of what you speak of.

    Boudreau is a “weapons free” coach who let’s his players play. He isn’t Carlyle. He isn’t a systems coach. He swaps line combos based on current chemistry and he decides who to play based on small and tactile decisions they make which affect the meta of the game – ie: Nick Bonino’s ability to hound loose pucks and turn turnovers into offensive sets with passing leading to his role as an integral part of the power play.

    The downside to that style of coaching is that sometimes the players lack the structure to fall back on when they just aren’t playing with the energy and “juice” they need or are scrambling. That is where you saw Detroit make them look silly. The Ducks ran out of gas and were not getting quality scoring chances. Detroit had their systems to fall back on and took advantage.

    Boudreau’s free-wheel can win. But when it doesn’t it looks bad. The expectations for the Ducks’ postseason were unreasonable given that they were coming back down to earth for the better part of two months before the playoffs started. That was not a traditional division winner and their time of possession, zone stats, and special teams showed it. They were a team that rode a hot goalie and benefitted from a short season. It should have been no surprise that they struggled and failed to put away Detroit, a team that was riding a hot streak and playing their best hockey of the season.

    None of that means Boudreau can’t help steer the Ducks towards being a legitimate Cup contender. It just means he has more work to do and management has to improve some of the critical parts.

    Leave hockey analysis to people who actually understand the game. This is sad.

    • Sean

      thanks for reading, buddy!

  • BackCheck

    Yeah, Gabby was certainly out-coached when Abdelkader knocked Lydman out of the series. It was only after Toni was concussed that Datsyuk and Zetterberg took over the series.
    Nobody mentions that the Red Wings were up 3-1 on the Blackhawks either.
    Fairly or unfairly Bruce Boudreau will never be designated elite coach status until he wins consistently in the playoffs.