After seeing Randy Carlyle fired after the Ducks beat the Canadiens last night and seeing Bruce Boudreau named to replace him, we’re all still shaking the dust out of our eyes thanks to the whirlwind of action.
When last we saw Boudreau he was watching his former Caps team get humiliated by a broken down Sabres team in Buffalo. Now he gets to play the awkward role once again of a guy filling in mid-season and he’s walking into a situation eerily similar to the one he left.
The Ducks are seeing their top players all struggling. Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan have seen the worst of it up front while Jonas Hiller has had a terrible go of things in goal. The rumors out of Anaheim say that their top stars all tuned out Carlyle leading the team to play so poorly of late dropping 16 of their last 19.
Boudreau’s Caps didn’t slump that hard but faced similar issues. The big difference here is that Boudreau heads to Anaheim as a players’ coach. Carlyle was notoriously hard on the Ducks and worked that team so hard they may have decided collectively that they’d just had enough. Once the message stops getting through there’s not much a coach can do and that’s something Boudreau knows all too well.
Now he heads in with a bevy of superstars capable of filling the net but with a team lacking in depth all over the ice. Anaheim’s essentially got two good lines and a great (but slumping) goalie. Getting Getzlaf and Ryan turned around will cure a lot of ills. Helping the Ducks find their defensive snarl will help too.
If Boudreau’s arrival and team tweaks don’t help turn things around, GM Bob Murray might start getting really nervous about his job and all the insane Bobby Ryan speculation might just persist. This team doesn’t need more distractions, they need answers.
Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.
Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.
“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.
The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.
Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.
There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.
The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.
That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.
In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.
Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.