Let me start off by saying that I really do like Bruce Boudreau as the head coach of the Anaheim Ducks. I really do.
His regular season success is undeniable. In five seasons as the leader of the Washington Capitals, Boudreau compiled a stellar 201-88-40 record, his teams won four consecutive Southeast Division titles from 2007-2011, and has a President’s Trophy sprinkled in there for good measure.
That success has transferred over to the West Coast in Anaheim as Boudreau has led the Ducks to back-to-back Pacific Division titles and to the best season in franchise history this past year.
But what ultimately did Boudreau in while he was in the nation’s capital may be his undoing in Southern California.
In Washington, Boudreau’s teams made the playoffs every year, but each squad failed to live up to their regular season play and were bounced without ever getting past the second round. Even his President’s Trophy troops were knocked out in the first round. The result of his postseason failures led to his firing early in the 2011-2012 season.
The Ducks swooped in immediately to hire Boudreau and he has done a fantastic job of turning hockey around in Anaheim.
Boudreau has not only guided the Ducks to two straight Pacific Division titles, but he led them to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference this season.
But once again Boudreau has yet to deliver come playoff time. In his first appearance with the Ducks in 2013, Anaheim squandered a 3-2 series lead and fell to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 at Honda Center.
This past May, Boudreau and the Ducks were one win away from sending home the Los Angeles Kings, but Anaheim failed to close the door and lost in Game 7 at Honda Center.
This trend has to end sometime right?
It’s clear that he can put up remarkable regular seasons behind the bench, but it’s time to do some real damage in the postseason.
Each team that Boudreau has entered the playoffs with has had a legitimate shot to win the Stanley Cup. In Washington, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom led the way. Here in Orange County, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are superstars entering the prime of their careers. The team is loaded with young talent with the likes of Cam Fowler, Devante Smith-Pelly, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen.
The addition of Ryan Kesler to play on the second line behind Getzlaf will only help.
Is the Kesler trade the missing piece that gets the Ducks over that second round hump? Or should we say, gets Boudreau over the second round hump?
Does the addition of Kesler and past postseason failures by Boudreau make this a “Cup or Bust” year?
When Boudreau came to Anaheim, the Ducks were on a clear down-slide. He has completely flipped the script and put the Ducks in a prime position to become an elite team in the NHL.
If the Ducks win the Cup under Boudreau, he will forever be let off the hook. But until then, his seat in Anaheim will be getting warmer and warmer as the years go by without one.
The only way for Boudreau to cool his seat for the time being will be to make the Conference Finals next season. Not only does his team need to make it that far, but they also need to show up. And by that I mean don’t get swept or embarrassed in a five-game series.
Anything less than that should raise the question about whether Boudreau is the right man to bring the Cup back to Anaheim. I’m not ready to ask that question yet, but another early exit from the playoffs and surely we’ll all be asking.
I really do like Boudreau as the head coach for the Ducks. But at some point, just because people (myself included) like him as a coach doesn’t mean he’s the right coach.
Results over popularity.
More specifically, playoff results.
Even more specifically, Western Conference Finals or bust.
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