The Anaheim Ducks apparently have a lot of faith in Bruce Boudreau. Some may say too much.
Despite yet another relatively disappointing postseason, the Ducks announced that Boudreau would return as the team’s coach next season. Anything short of a Stanley Cup championship and it likely will be his last.
Boudreau was hired by Anaheim on Nov. 30, 2011, just two days after being fired as coach of the Washington Capitals. He made NHL history by becoming the fastest coach to land a new job after being dismissed from his previous one.
The 60-year-old led the Ducks to a 27-23-8 record after replacing Randy Carlyle, but it wasn’t good enough for the team to qualify for the postseason. Boudreau guided Anaheim to the playoffs in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, although this was when the club began its troubling trend of losing Game 7s at home. They were eliminated by the Detroit Red Wings in the first round after leading the series 3-2.
Anaheim captured its second straight Pacific Division title the following season and earned Boudreau his first playoff series victory with the team by defeating the Dallas Stars. But the Ducks once again were unable capitalize on a 3-2 series advantage as they fell to the Los Angeles Kings, dropping the seventh game of their Western Conference semifinal matchup at Honda Center.
A third consecutive division crown in 2014-15 gave Anaheim fans hope for a second Stanley Cup in nine campaigns. And the Ducks appeared ready to win it for them, losing just one game while steamrolling past the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames to get halfway toward their goal.
Boudreau’s club built yet another 3-2 lead against the Chicago Blackhawks in the conference final, only to fail to close out the series and lose Game 7 in its own building. Optimists will say Anaheim’s inability to win Game 7s at home is just a run of bad luck, but a closer look at Boudreau’s history tells a different story.
He took over behind Washington’s bench on an interim basis on Nov. 22, 2007 before being named the club’s permanent coach a month later. The former Toronto Maple Leafs center went on to lead the Capitals to four straight Southeast Division titles but was unable to get them past the second round of the playoffs.
In its first postseason under Boudreau, Washington lost its first-round series with the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games — dropping the decisive contest at home. After winning Game 7 of their 2009 opening-round matchup with the New York Rangers at Verizon Center, the Capitals fell to 1-2 in such contests at home with Boudreau at the helm as they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
It was deja vu all over again for the Capitals the following year as they were ousted by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, losing the seventh game on home ice. There were no such defeats in the 2011 playoffs, only a four-game sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the conference semifinals.
Boudreau obviously is a fantastic regular-season coach, as evidenced by his seven division crowns in eight campaigns. However, a 1-6 record in Game 7s at home leaves a lot to be desired, and the Ducks most likely will not be able to tolerate another crushing setback.