By Pete Zarustica/Garden Grove Journal/With wire service reports
The Anaheim Ducks may be next-to-last in the National Hockey League, but the one category they lead in is in penalties: 130 in 26 games.
Which would lead some to the conclusion that the fast-falling Ducks may need more than the new coach – Bruce Boudreau – they got this week. They may need a therapist.
Veteran Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, who onceled the team to the Stanley Cup in 2007, (lower right) was fired last Wednesday despite a 4-1 win that snapped a seven-game losing streak. In steps Boudreau (at right) the former Washington Capitals mentor, and he steps into quite a mess.
For example, in his first came behind the bench Friday night, the Ducks leaped out to a 3-0 lead over the Philadelphia Flyers at Honda Center, then fell apart like a cheap piñata.
Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks captain, spent four minutes in the penalty box for – first, committing a tripping penalty in overtime, and then – second, yelling at the official and slamming his stick on the glass, earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the Ducks 11th penalty of the night. The Ducks went on to lose, 4-3.
That was followed by a 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild Sunday night in Anaheim.
So what can Boudreau do for a team that started out 4-1 and has gone 3-11-4 since? Think optimistically.
“There’s a lot of positives,” Boudreau said. “There’s more skill up front than I thought. The energy and enthusiasm on the bench was really good. Everybody left everything they had on the ice. It wasn’t a case of not giving it their all, but in the end you can’t overcome making dumb mistakes.”
On Tuesday, Bobby Ryan’s awkward shot glanced off Drew Doughty and past Jonathan Quick with 48.8 seconds to play, and the Ducks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Tuesday night for their first victory under Bruce Boudreau.
Jonas Hiller made 37 saves for the Ducks, who won for just the fourth time in 22 games. Ryan, the subject of innumerable trade rumors, and Corey Perry scored first-period goals for the Ducks, who have blown 2-0 leads in each of Boudreau’s first three games.
“It’s tough not to get down on yourselves,” Ryan said of the Ducks, who had lost nine of 10. “We’ve been through it so many times and we’ve given up leads so many times, and we did it again tonight. But Bruce did a good job behind the bench, telling guys, `Let’s move forward. We’re not going to be beaten tonight.’ And I think he instilled that confidence in us.”
Ryan won it when he slipped into the circle after Teemu Selanne, who had two assists, took a draw. Ryan bulled his way to the net, chipping the puck forward and getting a looping pinball bounce off Doughty for the winner.
“It’s not the Cup, but it felt pretty good,” said Boudreau, who spent four seasons coaching the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester. “There’s no doubt. I felt really good for the players because they were smiling, and they worked so hard. If it had gone the other way after another lead like that, I was a little worried about it. We got a lucky break, but they got a lucky break, too, so it evened out.”
The Ducks’ dumping of Carlyle was one of three within a week in the NHL. In fact, Boudreau was canned from Washington for posting a 13-12-1 record, far better than the Ducks.
“Randy is a terrific head coach,” said Ducks general manager Bob Murray.
“We thank him for his hard work and dedication to our franchise, not the least of which was a Stanley Cup championship. At this time, we simply felt a new voice was needed.”
The idea had begun to take that the Ducks’ players had simply “tuned out” their long-time coach, and no amount of shouting or pleading was going to have much of an impact.
Boudreau had won four straight division titles with the Capitals, but never did too well in the playoffs. This season the Caps started off 7-0, then slumped. Starting to sound a little bit familiar?
The new coach will get a chance to test drive the team today (Thursday) against the Blues in St. Louis, then Saturday in Nashville.
On Wednesday the Ducks will be back at home to host the Phoenix Coyotes.
Perhaps by then we’ll know whether what the Ducks needed was a headshrinker or some major surgery.