Despite getting further than ever before, big game letdowns continue to haunt Boudreau


“It’s a relief that I won’t get asked that question anymore. I’m sure now it will be, ‘Well, you’ve never been to the Cup Final.’”

That was Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau talking after reaching the Western Conference Final for the first time in his career. On the one hand, he hit the nail on the head. He killed the narrative about how he’s never been to the Conference Final and that’s merely shifted the discussion to a higher round. If he finds that unfair then perhaps he has cause to, but at the same time, he has a story of missed opportunities that is literally unparalleled in NHL history.

He has lost six Game 7s in his career, which is something no other head coach from past or present can claim, per Sportsnet. There are only two teams in NHL history to lose at home in Game 7s in three straight seasons: the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks, according to ESPN. In both cases Boudreau was at the helm. Keep in mind that the home team has a 94-67 all-time record in Game 7s, including Chicago’s 5-3 victory tonight.

At best, Boudreau has been unlucky to the point of being a significant statistical anomaly. At worst, he’s the link the correlation suggests he is. Either way, it’s tremendously unfortunate because his teams have been terrific most of the time. His 363-167-69 regular season record gives him the best points percentage of any coach that’s led at least 500 games. Scotty Bowman ranks second on that list.

“I’ve gained an appreciation for how hard it is … I thought we had a good chance to get to the dance, but we didn’t make it,” Boudreau said after his latest setback, per the Ducks’ Twitter feed.

“Sometimes things just don’t work out,” he added. “They care so much, they’re gonna feel it for a long time.”

If there is a consolation it’s that the Ducks under Boudreau have made progress, even if it’s been painful. In 2014 they won their first playoff series since 2009. This year they made it to the Conference Final for the first time since 2007. They don’t have much further to left to climb in order to achieve their goal.

Perhaps Anaheim will bounce right back next year and win the championship. Then the story about Boudreau will be one of a man that came so close so many times finally being rewarded for his persistence and efforts. For now though, the narrative isn’t nearly so pleasant.

Boudreau mulls line changes ahead of Game 7

Bruce Boudreau

Though he wouldn’t commit to anything, Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau is contemplaing mixing up his bottom-six forward group for tomorrow’s Game 7 of the Western Conference Final against Chicago.

Right winger Kyle Palmieri — who has spent most of this series on a line with Andrew Cogliano and Nate Thompson — was replaced by Jiri Sekac on the third line, moving Palmieri onto the fourth with Rickard Rakell and Tomas Fleischmann. Fleischmann had taken the place of Emerson Etem on the bottom line, which has happened on a few occasions this postseason (including Game 5 of this series).

The moves were a chemistry test, according to Boudreau, who suggested he might use these new units as Anaheim looks to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in eight years.

“I wanted to see it in practice today,” Boudreau said, per NHL.com. “We tried that a little bit. I wanted to make sure that if that’s the route we’re going to go, then I wanted to see if they at least had sort of some good chemistry together. We talked about it and we’ll talk about it again [Saturday] morning.

“By no means are those set in stone, those lines today.”

Boudreau: Ducks were ‘nervous Nellies’ in last year’s Game 7 versus Kings

Calgary Flames v Anaheim Ducks - Game Five

The last time the Anaheim Ducks hosted a Game 7, they came out of the gates and fell flat on their faces.

The Ducks would go on to lose 6-2 to the Los Angeles Kings in last year’s second-round series-decider. It was 3-0 before the first period had even ended.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau is hoping to avoid a repeat of that performance on Saturday when the Ducks host the Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, with a chance to play for the Stanley Cup on the line.

“I think last year’s Game 7, we were just a bunch of nervous Nellies,” he said. “Hopefully that happened in Game 6 and won’t carry over to Game 7.”

As you might have inferred, Boudreau did not think his team played with much poise in last night’s 5-2 defeat at United Center.

“We lost our composure for the first time I thought in the playoffs,” he said. “They scored the one goal. It was like, ‘Ah, what’s going on?’ We started scrambling all over. They got the momentum. We lost our composure.”

Related: Getzlaf: ‘I was terrible’ in Game 6