Tampa Bay Lightning v Anaheim Ducks

Ducks’ Boudreau: ‘We have to pull ourselves out of this’


The good news is that the Anaheim Ducks still have a nine-point lead in the Pacific Division. It almost seems like the bad news is “everything else.”

If you’ve been following along on PHT, you’re probably aware that the Ducks have been in a slump that might just be a sign of a team that isn’t as good as its record indicates. That much has been explored here and here.

Still, with injuries mounting, the Ducks were thumped by the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 4-1 last night, exacerbating worries that the team is waddling badly into the playoffs. Head coach Bruce Boudreau seemingly took a “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” perspective according to this OC Register report.

“I don’t think anybody’s very happy or used to what’s going on,” Boudreau said. “But it’s up to us. We can’t hang our heads. Friggin’ every other team wants to win to. We got to pull ourselves of this.

“When we do, we’ll be a better team for it. We’d certainly like to see it happen sooner than later.”

There’s at least some recognition of the struggles. Ben Lovejoy said “it’s not head-scratching” and that the Ducks are aware that the played poorly. So there’s that.

As with many slumps – particularly ones by teams that were seemingly getting a lot of puck luck until they hit a wall of regression – the question becomes “How much power does this team actually have to turn things around?”

It’s plausible that Frederik Andersen’s excellent work camouflaged a lot of issues for Anaheim before he was injured. Really, Boudreau might have a point that it’s a blessing in disguise to struggle now instead of in April, May or June.

That said, what this slump really might say is that the Ducks need to sacrifice some of their healthy cap space to get better via moves between today and the March 2 trade deadline.

Determining if it’s a matter of will or personnel is where the head-scratching really might take place.

Boudreau: Andersen says he is fine after injury scare

The Anaheim Ducks are coming off of a loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but they have a reason to feel upbeat this morning, as it appears that Frederik Andersen avoided an injury on Sunday.

There was some concern that he was hurt after a net fell on him yesterday, but head coach Bruce Boudreau said that the young goalie told him he was fine, the OC Register’s Eric Stephens reports.

That’s certainly a relief for the Ducks as they’ve leaned on the 25-year-old goalie more than just about anyone expected after coming into 2014-15 expecting a timeshare between Andersen and John Gibson.

Andersen is tied with Carey Price for second in the NHL for wins with 29 this season as he helps the Ducks continue their strong success in regular season play.

Here’s video of the moment that left the Ducks worried:

Considering how much Ilya Bryzgalov has struggled, Anaheim really dodged a bullet here (assuming there isn’t a setback).

Boudreau has no clue when Perry may return

Los Angeles Kings v Anaheim Ducks - Game Five
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One almost gets the sense that Bruce Boudreau needed a longer holiday break from the media. Either that, or he’s just really tired of not knowing when his star Corey Perry will return from a knee injury.

When asked if a Wednesday return might be “realistic” for Perry, Boudreau gave a pretty flustered response to NHL.com’s Curtis Zupke.

“We’ve been talking about realistic for him coming back for two-and-a-half weeks … I don’t even know anymore,” Boudreau said. “There’s no set timeline. He’ll be back at least for April 1st. I’m giving him a little bit of leeway.”

Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy seemingly depicts grumpy Boudreau from earlier today:

Imagine how salty Boudreau would be if his team was losing …

Ducks’ Boudreau has ‘all the faith’ in Andersen

Arizona Coyotes v Anaheim Ducks

Frederik Andersen made it through about half of the Anaheim Ducks’ thrilling win against Los Angeles before getting pulled, but head coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t flinch about giving the young goalie a chance to redeem himself.

Boudreau told the OC Register that Andersen has his confidence, and almost as importantly, will get the start against Los Angeles on Saturday.

“I have all the faith in the world in Freddie,” Boudreau said. “Sometimes stuff happens. If it’s a forward, you’d never notice it. But as a goalie, you notice it.”

Andersen, 25, made it through about half of Wednesday’s eventual win against the Kings before getting the hook in favor of veteran backup Jason LaBarbera. Andersen remarked that the last goal he allowed was like something he hasn’t yielded since his teenage years:

When it was clear that John Gibson would be on the shelf for quite some time, it seemed like an opening for Andersen to cement his hold on the Ducks’ contested No. 1 spot.

Instead, he hasn’t won a game since returning from his own injury issues on Nov. 7, although it’s fair to say that his abbreviated start against Los Angeles was really his only truly bad outing in November. While it’s partially out of necessity, it’s probably wise of Boudreau to give Andersen a chance to put that tough night behind him, especially against the same team that chased him.

Boudreau has every reason to throw his support behind Andersen … at least until Gibson’s healthy again.

‘Obviously, our defense has gotten better,’ says Ducks coach Boudreau

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Bruce Boudreau knows the statistics. And the numbers are pretty clear: good defensive teams win Stanley Cups. Bad, or even mediocre ones, have a much tougher time.

The Ducks coach is, therefore, happy to see his team allowing the fifth-fewest goals per game (1.90) in the NHL.

“Obviously, our defense has gotten better,” said Boudreau, per the LA Times. “If you look at teams that have won the Cup, they’re high in the defensive standings — L.A. was the best defensive team last year, won the Cup. Chicago before that, won it. When Boston won … there’s definitely a trend there.”

In fact, the last Cup-winning team that didn’t rank highly in goals against during the regular season was the 2008-09 Penguins (17th, 2.84).

While the Ducks may not have a Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman like Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith or Zdeno Chara, they do have a good mix of young talent and veteran experience on the back end. Plus, they added a former Selke Trophy recipient in Ryan Kesler, and they’ve received excellent goaltending from Frederik Andersen and John Gibson (Tuesday in Chicago, especially).

The Ducks could still be better defensively, as evidenced by the 29.3 shots per game they’re allowing. That ranks them right around the middle of the NHL. Their possession stats are only mediocre as well.

But with all the firepower and finishing ability they boast up front, the Ducks may not have to be the best defensive team. Assuming they keep burying a high percentage of their chances and the goaltending holds up, above average may suffice in order to take a serious run at the Cup.

Anaheim is in St. Louis to play the Blues tonight.

Goals against of past six Stanley Cup champs
2013-14 Kings (1st, 2.05)
2012-13 Blackhawks (1st, 2.02)
2011-12 Kings (2nd, 2.07)
2010-11 Bruins (2nd, 2.30)
2009-10 Blackhawks (6th, 2.48)