Anze Kopitar, Frederik Andersen

Ducks feel ‘very comfortable’ with rookie Andersen in net, says Boudreau

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Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed the speculation today — rookie Frederik Andersen will start in goal for the Ducks tonight when they kick off their first-round series with Dallas.

Andersen gets the nod over struggling veteran Jonas Hiller and fellow rookie John Gibson.

“I just think, right now, Andersen’s played the best,” Boudreau said, per NHL.com. “He gives us the best chance to win, so he’ll be the one starting. It doesn’t mean he’ll be starting Game 2, but he’s starting Game 1.”

Andersen went 20-5-0 with a .923 save percentage during the regular season. After earning the top seed in the West, the Ducks will be hoping the 24-year-old Dane can join the relatively short list of inexperienced netminders who’ve enjoyed playoff success. (Names like Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, Cam Ward, Antti Niemi, and Ron Hextall come to mind.)

“We’ve played him in an awful lot of tough towns,” Boudreau said. “We played him twice in St. Louis, twice in San Jose. He’s played twice in L.A. The teams in the Western Conference that have been tough places to play … we feel very comfortable with him in net.”

Related: Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup

Boudreau won’t say who’s starting for Ducks, but the money’s on Andersen

Frederik Andersen, Jonas Hiller
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A rather big story is quietly developing in Anaheim, where rookie Frederik Andersen has emerged as the favorite to start in goal for the Ducks when they kick off their first-round series Wednesday versus Dallas.

Andersen is 20-5-0 with a .923 save percentage, excellent numbers to be sure. But if Bruce Boudreau does decide to give the 24-year-old Dane the nod, the decision will be more about veteran Jonas Hiller’s late-season struggles.

Rookie John Gibson is another option for the coach.

“We’re in position with three good goalies,” Boudreau said, per the L.A. Times. “I don’t think I can screw it up too bad whoever I choose.”

Maybe not, but the Ducks have high hopes after earning the top seed in the West, and Andersen only has 24 career NHL starts to his name.

“It’s my first time being part of the NHL playoffs, now the fun starts,” Andersen said. “I feel good, and if I’m called upon, I’ll feel comfortable going in.”

Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin await.

Boudreau: Ducks ‘don’t know what we’re going to do’ with No. 1 goalie gig

Bruce Boudreau
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In news overshadowed by clinching the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks blew the doors wide open for a potential goalie controversy — and it came from their head coach, Bruce Boudreau.

Per the L.A. Times:

Asked if he expects to remain in goal over primary starter Jonas Hiller or 19-win rookie Frederik Andersen in the playoffs, [John] Gibson said, “We’ll see.”

Of his decision to play Gibson on Wednesday, Boudreau said, “It’s a little bit of a gamble … My gut feeling [was] that he’d be the guy at this stage who’d really jump up and do a bang-up job for us.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do now.”

Gibson, 20, is regarded as one of the best young goaltending prospects in the world. He captured tournament MVP at the ’13 World Juniors before performing equally well for the U.S. at the ’13 Worlds, backstopping the Americans to bronze while posting a 1.56 GAA and .951 save percentage.

In two games this year — and yes, they’re the first and only two NHL games of his career — Gibson has looked great, going 2-0-0 while posting a 1.00 GAA and .946 save percentage, with one shutout.

The big key, it seems, is that Boudreau went with Gibson for Wednesday’s game against the Sharks. The Ducks spoke about that game with great importance afterward, saying they were fired up to clinch the Pacific Division and force San Jose to face Los Angeles in the opening round — so, in short, Boudreau rolled the dice and went with Gibson in a game the Ducks really wanted.

Telling.

Compounding matters is the current state of Anaheim’s other goalies, Jonas Hiller and Frederik Andersen. Hiller has been mired in a slump for nearly a month, forcing Boudreau to admit the Swiss goalie was “really lacking in confidence.” Andersen, who’s enjoying a great rookie campaign and leading all first-year goalie in wins (19), is currently sidelined with an upper-body injury — with the Ducks offering very little as to when he’ll be able to return.

Hiller ‘really lacking in confidence,’ says Boudreau

Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, of the Czech Republic, gets water after giving up a goal to Colorado Avalanche left wing Jamie McGinn in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Denver on Friday, March 14, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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The Anaheim Ducks have done plenty to try and snap No. 1 goalie Jonas Hiller from his ongoing funk, but nothing seems to be working.

After losing to the lowly Oilers on Sunday — a game in which Hiller allowed three second-period goals en route to a 4-2 defeat — Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau all but confirmed Hiller was struggling with the mental side of the game.

“I think [Hiller’s] really lacking in confidence,” Boudreau said, per the L.A. Times. “Once the first one went in, he was worried until he regained his composure.”

The Swiss ‘tender is 6-9-3 in his last 18 outings and dropped his last three decisions — two of them to Edmonton — while allowing 11 goals on 67 shots, an .836 save percentage. Boudreau, who noticed Hiller was showing signs of fatigue recently, gave his goalie three consecutive games off from Mar. 29-Apr. 2 in the hopes of providing Hiller a mental refresher…but all it seems to have done is further muddle the situation.

Frederik Andersen, who’s been outstanding for Anaheim this year, played well in Hiller’s absence but suffered an injury on Friday versus Nashville, and didn’t travel with the Ducks on their current two-game roadie (Anaheim plays in Vancouver tonight). That forced the club to bring up 20-year-old phenom John Gibson — you can read more about him here, and here and here — and, given Hiller’s latest setback, it’s very possible Gibson could make his Ducks and NHL debut tonight against the Canucks.

“I’ll talk to the coaches and people and we’ll see what we’re doing,” Boudreau said.

Hiller, who acknowledged his recent struggles, said he’s not getting any puck luck at the moment.

“Seems like now I can’t get a break, like things find a way to hit me and go in,” Hiller said. “Those bounces happen when you don’t work enough.”

Avs, Ducks meet for first time since Roy-Boudreau fireworks

RoyBoudreau

It was a long time ago, but few have forgotten Patrick Roy’s NHL coaching debut — a 6-1 thrashing of the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 2, that ended with Roy engaged in a spirited yelling/glass shoving match with Bruce Boudreau:

The Avs and Ducks will meet tonight for the first time since that incident, one Roy says helped forge a relationship with his team.

“All along, I had been talking about partnership with my players, and let them know I’m with them. And when that thing happened at the end it certainly gave me an opportunity to show them that I am with them,” Roy said, per NBC 9 News Denver. “It’s nice to talk, but sometimes talk is cheap. It was an opportunity to show them I am with them in a good and bad situation I’ll be behind these guys.”

That said, Roy admitted the $10,000 fine handed down for his actions wasn’t the greatest.

“Obviously I would have loved to save 10 grand,” he remarked. “But it was part of it.”

As for Boudreau — who, following the incident, called Roy’s actions “bush league” — he considers the yelling match ancient history.

“It’s so far gone, long ago, I have no idea,” Boudreau said, per the OC Register. “This is the first I’ve thought of it. My whole focus is on what our team is.

“Whatever Patrick did or has done, it’s got his team playing fabulous.”

Boudreau is right on that last point.

The Avs are 7-3-0 in their last 10 and have 91 points on the season — two back of Anaheim heading into tonight’s action. Colorado would actually surpass the Ducks in the standings with a regulation win tonight, and put further distance between itself and Chicago in the ultra-competitive Central Division.