Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lance Pugmire of the LA Times,
Maybe a man who has steered his teams to six regular-season division titles but never gotten one past a second-round playoff series is supposed to keep quiet about his longing to hold the Stanley Cup.
That’ll never be Bruce Boudreau.
The Ducks coach, who will lead his Western Conference top-seeded team into the postseason Wednesday night against the wild-card Dallas Stars, unabashedly has obsessed about the best-known trophy in sports.
“Think about it every single day of my life,” Boudreau told The Times on Monday. “When I’m by myself, when I take a walk … since I’ve been 10 years old.
“It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s not a question of the will and the want not being there. It’s a question of, sometimes you’ve got the opportunity and you’ve got to make good on it.”
from Lance Pugmire of the LA Times,
Among the three goalies the Western Conference top-seeded Ducks can choose to start Wednesday in their Stanley Cup playoff opener against the Dallas Stars, the one with the most wins doesn’t expect to be in net.
Jonas Hiller, who went 29-13-7 for the Ducks (54-20-8) but lost his final three games, was last off the ice at Monday’s practice and was passed over in favor of 20-year-old rookie John Gibson on Sunday in what was a meaningless game in the standings.
“I’ve had some sleepless nights … I’ve not been the happiest guy in the world to be around lately. You can ask my wife,” Hiller said after Monday’s team practice in Anaheim.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he expects to finalize his decision about who will start Game 1 by Tuesday, and it probably will be 20-win rookie Frederik Andersen, who beat the Kings on Saturday.
from Jeff Miller of the OC Register (paid sub.) at the Bellingham Herald,
"We've put ourselves in a very good position to make a run for it," Ducks forward Kyle Palmieri said. "We feel good and feel confident in ourselves. There's not a guy in this locker room who would be less than devastated with anything other than winning the Stanley Cup."
Yet, unexpected is not unusual in the NHL in springtime, this being the one sport where having home-field advantage often proves to be not even marginally advantageous.
Strange things happen all the time, like just Friday, when Daniel Winnik showed up on the Ducks' practice ice protected by a full-face cage. Afterward, Boudreau announced that Winnik had suffered a broken nose, but the coach claimed he wasn't entirely sure where, when or how the injury happened.
"He's just ugly," Boudreau cracked, and the guy really does have a great sense of humor. Maybe this is the postseason Boudreau will be around long enough to keep people laughing.
If not, it will be another sad conclusion after another glorious but overhyped regular season, a franchise valued at $300 million unworthy yet again.
from Andrew Knoll of the New York Times,
His label as hockey’s Everyman has worn a bit thin, but Anaheim Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau continues to produce results that are anything but ordinary.
The Ducks clinched their second consecutive Pacific Division title on Wednesday with a 5-2 victory against San Jose. Heading into Saturday night’s game against Los Angeles, they had 52 victories, a franchise record and four more than the 2007 team, which won the Stanley Cup. Their sights are now set on earning the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and the Presidents’ Trophy as the team with the most points in the N.H.L.
When Boudreau, 59, took over for Randy Carlyle in the 2011-12 season, the Ducks were in decline. But after a weak start, Boudreau nearly guided them to the playoffs, and now, in his second full season at the helm, has them in contention again. The Ducks have been one of the league’s best in holding leads after two periods and are the only team above .500 when they trail first. His players cite a personal connection with Boudreau as a big reason for their success.
“He gets to know the players, he gets to know their families and he wants to know how you’re doing at home,” said right wing Corey Perry, one of four holdovers from the 2007 team. “Those little things, they help. When you have a great relationship with your coach, you’re going to play hard for him.”
from David Pollak of Working the Corners at the Mercury News,
Players rarely talk about giving up soft goals because that pretty much reflects on the man in the pads who was the last line of defense.
But they used that term Wednesday night after the Sharks lost 5-2 to the Anaheim Ducks and no one would challenge the usage. The Sharks played well, undermined by three goals that got past Antti Niemi before Todd McLellan replaced him with Alex Stalock just before the game’s midpoint.
“We played a heck of a game,” said Joe Thornton, who professed he was fine despite leaving the game late in obvious pain (more on that later). “We were in their end the majority of the night, but a couple soft goals and you lose the game. That’s all.”
All season McLellan has done everything possible to quash any hint of a goalie debate – let’s not even call it a controversy. Niemi was his No. 1, Stalock was the backup.
But Wednesday night, when asked directly if Niemi was “his guy going into the playoffs,” McLellan was hedged.
continued and watch the game highlights below...
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Tune in for the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks and you might be confused, because the spectacle you'll be treated to will resemble a no-holds-barred postseason affair.
Kind of like when the Sharks beat the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday 2-1. Or when the Sharks beat the Ducks 3-2 on March 20. Or when the Ducks beat the Kings 2-1 on March 15.
If this were soccer, we might be able to create a separate competition during the season, calling it the California Cup, perhaps. I'd pay to watch every single game between these three teams.
Two of them are guaranteed to face off in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs next week, with the Kings -- in third place in the Pacific Division -- waiting to see whether it's the Ducks or Sharks who finish second in the division and get rewarded with an all-out war with the 2012 Cup champs in the opening round.
So, yeah, there's definitely something on the line Wednesday night. The Ducks can clinch the Pacific Division title with a win in regulation over San Jose.
from Lance Pugmire of the LA Times,
In the Ducks’ most significant game of the season so far, they will start a 20-year-old making his NHL debut in goal.
Rookie John Gibson, promoted from minor-league Norfolk on Saturday following a blow to the head sustained by 19-win rookie goalie Frederik Andersen on Friday, left the ice first at the Ducks’ Monday morning skate at Rogers Arena in Vancouver and will start Monday night against the Canucks (35-32-11).
He replaces the team’s slumping primary starter, Jonas Hiller, who has lost three consecutive games -- including two to last-place Edmonton -- and is 6-9-3 since winning 14 straight games from Dec. 6-Jan. 12.
Asked how he'll know if he’s ready for this upgrade in competition, Gibson smiled and said, “Go out there and play, and I’ll let you know after.”
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
What was interesting about the Anaheim Ducks' 3-2, comeback win over the Edmonton Oilers is that the goalie of record for the Ducks, Frederik Andersen, won for the 19th time and pushed his save percentage to an impressive .925 in 26 appearances.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau has been resting starter Jonas Hiller after a period of uneven play following the Olympics, giving Andersen three straight starts, all victories. The 24-year-old rookie from Herning, Denmark, stopped 30 of 32 against the Oilers as the Ducks moved to within a point of the St. Louis Blues for top spot in the Western Conference.
Now, everyone expects Hiller will reassume the starting role no matter where the Ducks end up in the standings or who they face in the first round. Still, our guess is that Andersen has endeared himself to his teammates and the coaching staff in a way that if Hiller wobbles Boudreau won't hesitate to make a switch.
read on for Custance on the Kings, LeBrun on Patrice Bergeron and Strang on the Red Wings...
Watch the holding stick play at the Winnipeg bench which lead to a Jets goal and put them up 4-0.
But the Ducks did come back to win the game as pointed out in an earlier post.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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