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By Adam Brady
Director of Publications & New Media
for the Ducks and Honda Center.
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POSTED ON Monday, 12.12.2011 / 5:14 PM

Gordon (left), who scored his second goal of the year against Nashville on Saturday: "As hard as we're working, we're still working on that 'dare to be great' moment."
Following a tough two-game road trip, and a Sunday off, the Ducks were back to work at Honda Center this afternoon. It's the first time the team will be able to practice two straight days since Boudreau took over on November 30. 

Anaheim dropped another frustrating one Saturday night in Nashville, a 3-2 defeat that turned in the Predators' direction in the third period after an agonizing slashing call on Brandon McMillan. That penalty came after McMillan got his stick into Nashville pest Jordin Tootoo away from the play but right in front of the official, whose arm went up immediately. (After the game, both Ryan Getzlaf and Boudreau used the word "cheesy" to describe the call.) Roman Josi scored on the subsequent power play, Tootoo added another a few minutes later, and Francois Beauchemin's goal was all the Ducks would get the rest of the way.

Andrew Gordon, who had his second goal as a Duck to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead, reflected on the team's frustrations when I talked to him after practice today. "I know it's a cliche," he said. "but it just seems like every time we make one mistake, it ends up completely backfiring on us. It is a game of mistakes, and guys are skilled enough where they are going to make you pay for them. We need to keep working in practice on limiting those mistakes and working with this system. Once that becomes second-nature, it will go a lot smoother for us."

While the team practiced today, the Ducks made a "deal with the Devils" (I couldn't resist), a trade that brought in center Rod Pelley, defenseman Mark Fraser and a seventh-round draft pick for defenseman Kurtis Foster and goalie Timo Pielmeier. Pelley, 27, had appeared in just just seven games with the Devils this year, but had played 74 last year, scoring three goals and 10 points.

Now the Ducks just need to acquire Ben Smith from the Blackhawks so they can form a Smith-Pelley-Smith-Pelly line.

The 25-year-old Fraser has played 98 games with the Devils, but just four this year.

Another Ducks defenseman, the sorely missed Lubomir Visnovsky, returned to practice today as he recovers from a broken finger. Visnovsky said he hopes to play Wednesday at home vs. Phoenix, but wasn't yet sure if that was a possibility.

"He made it through practice today and I thought that was a fairly tough practice," said Boudreau. "It just all depends on how he feels and his comfort with the puck. When you get a chance to get your All-Star defenseman back in the lineup, if he’s ready to play, he’ll let us know when he’s ready to play."

Boudreau noted the effect that Visnovsky's absence has had on Cam Fowler, who has played close to 26 minutes a game to make up for that missing piece. "He’s had to play too many minutes for a 20-year-old guy," Boudreau said. "It’s not Cam’s fault. That is not fair to him. You get another veteran in there. It shoulders a lot of minutes and helps him along the way."

Meanwhile, Saku Koivu was out of practice today, and missed the game in Nashville, with what is still being called a lower body injury. He is still "day to day" but Boudreau remarked, "The trainers keep saying he’s getting better and I said ‘That’s means nothing to me. I want to know when he is going to play.’ They said he is getting better and they're hoping he is on the ice tomorrow."

Back to Gordon, who said despite the Ducks' disappointments, he sees a light at the end of what has become a very long tunnel.

"It's amazing and frustrating on so many levels that I don't know where to begin," he said of the team's struggles. "But we still believe in each other in here. We still believe things can turn around at the drop of a hat. All we need is that one bounce, that one game that turns things in our favor.

"As hard as we're working, we're still working on that 'dare to be great' moment."

- - -

This story by Jenelyn Russo
on the OC Register's website, about Cam Fowler speaking at the Ducks Die Hards booster club's holiday party, had one anecdote from Fowler that I found particularly funny. Fowler was asked about the first time he met Boudreau:

"I introduced myself to Coach and he must not have understood me," said Fowler, "because he said, 'Nice to meet you, Dan.' I've always wanted a nickname. Maybe I'll just go with 'Dan' for now."

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POSTED ON Friday, 12.09.2011 / 11:54 AM

Your typical hockey player, when he finds the puck on his stick blade, is faced with a seemingly endless amount of decisions to make. Should I pass it? And to which guy? Saucer pass it? Bank it off the boards? Clear it off the glass? Skate it out of the zone? Maybe dump it in the corner? Should I shoot it? Slap shot or wrist shot? Glove side or stick side? Low or high?

And defensively, play the puck or the body? Make the hit or the poke check? Block the shot or let the goalie make the stop? Take this man or that man on the rush? Play the shot or the pass?

They are decisions that have to be made literally hundreds of times a game and all within a fraction of a second. Mistakes, inevitably, are going to be made, and often forgotten.

But for the Anaheim Ducks lately, those mistakes all too often have ended up in the back of their net. 

“I thought we played a pretty good game against a hot team,” Teemu Selanne said of last night's 4-2 loss in St. Louis. “We’re playing way better than we did a couple of weeks ago. But mistakes are killing us. We can’t get away with a mistake. That’s the story of our season.”

St. Louis is indeed one of the hotter teams in the NHL, winning last night for the sixth time in the last eight games and improving to 10-2-3 under new coach Coach Ken Hitchcock. In other words, they are a team that right now will capitalize on the little mistakes, and that happened a couple of times last night.

The Blues' first goal came in the opening period, when Jonas Hiller seemingly stopped a Jamie Langenbrunner shot, but the puck leaked out behind him. It sat silent in the crease before Chris Porter reached out and dragged it into the net.   

Late in the second, with the Ducks looking poised to go into the break down just a goal, Cam Fowler's dump-in attempt wasn't forceful enough and was picked off by Ian Cole. He swiftly transitioned it to T.J. Oshie, who scored a back-breaking goal that made it 3-1 Blues.

“He has to dump it harder,” said Bruce Boudreau of that play. “We’re too flimsy. That comes from being cute. That’s not just from Cam, but skilled players have a tendency to think they can do everything perfectly cute instead of getting it deep. If you do that, you take the worry out of it.”

Anaheim got within a goal in the third thanks to Devante Smith-Pelly (who the Ducks will loan to Canada's World Junior team for a few days). But that was as close as the Ducks would get, being buried by Oshie's empty-netter after Ryan Getzlaf couldn't get the puck off the wall for a dump-in.
 
“A confident team, with a record opposite of ours, would have put one of those shots in, in the third period,” Boudreau said. “This team’s got a lot of heart, but they need to get on a little bit of a roll to get that confidence. It’s a little bit lacking right now.”

Boudreau talked about his team's "unforced errors" and used another non-hockey reference to describe the state of the Ducks.

“This team reminds me of the Miami Dolphins,” he said. “They lost their first six games or whatever and the coach (Tony Sparano) said they were playing hard. Then they turned it around and won four out of five. I think we’re ready to do that.”

That will have to start tomorrow night in Nashville in an intriguing match with the Predators, revisiting a newly fierce rivarly that was sparked by last year's playoff series and a couple of contentious battles already this season. Both of those have been Nashville wins, and the Ducks would like nothing more than to break that string while starting one of their own.

Unfortunately, the Preds (ninth in the West) are kinda riding high right now after what they did last night in Columbus. Trailing by two goals late in the third period, they scored twice with the extra attacker, including the tying goal from Sergei Kostitsyn with just 12.1 seconds left. Inevitably, they won it in overtime on a Colin Wilson goal just 1:45 into the extra period.

The Preds will also get Ducks favorite Jordin Tootoo back tomorrow after he was suspended two games for a hit last Tuesday on Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller.

The Ducks, by the way, lost Saku Koivu last night to a lower body injury in the second period, and he is reportedly day to day. Anaheim did call up the Kyle Palmieri (leading the AHL with 17 goals for Syracuse ) and brought back Brandon McMillan.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 12:42 PM

All I want to know is, who won the fight?
Chances are, you've already heard the major news this morning regarding Anaheim and a superstar former league MVP in St. Louis.

But just in case you missed it: Yes, Corey Perry and the Anaheim Ducks are facing a key game with the St. Louis Blues tonight.

It's the first road test for new Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, who is coming off his first win as Anaheim coach two nights ago against the Kings. The Ducks are in St. Louis tonight, Nashville on Saturday, and a date with Phoenix next Wedesnday at Honda Center is the only home game in the next eight for Anaheim.

The Blues (15-9-3) are the latest NHL proof at what a coaching change can do, having sprinted to a 9-2-3 record since former Blue Jacket head man Ken Hitchcock took over for the dismissed Davis Payne back on Nov. 6. They've done it mostly with a stingy defense that has given up two of fewer goals in 11 of their past 15 games. That's similar defensive prowess as Anaheim's last opponent, the Kings (and we all know how that one turned out).

St. Louis has been boosted by the work of former backup Brian Elliott, who has filled in for the injured Jaroslav Halak and put up monster numbers: a 10-2-0 record and league-leading 1.56 goals-against average. But Elliott won't be in there tonight for the Blues, as Halak is reportedly getting the start after recovering from a groin injury. Halak is 4-7-3 with a 2.40 GAA and .903 save percentage, but has a 1.60 GAA and .944 save percentage in his last eight starts.

The Ducks, incidentally, are looking to win two games in a row for the first time since they won four straight following a season-opening defeat. Game 3 of that string was a 4-2 victory over the Blues at Honda Center (with Halak in net), although since that time, both teams have changed coaches.

"We've been pretty competitive," Boudreau said this morning of the Ducks in his three-game tenure. "Quite frankly, we could have won all three games or we could have lost all three.

"We've played three good teams and tonight is the fourth in a row. It will be another really good test."

If you're looking to catch the game tonight with some fellow Ducks fans, there will be an official Watch Party starting at 5 p.m. at one of my favorite spots, The Catch in Anaheim.

Wherever you are, hopefully you'll watch Anaheim take something from St. Louis for the second time today.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 11:42 AM

Photos don't get much more awesome than this.
The thought struck when Bobby Ryan coaxed that goal into the Kings net in the final minute, and again when the clock on the Honda Center scoreboard hit triple-zero:

I haven’t heard it this loud in here in a long time.


Since the last time the Kings were in this building – back on November 17 – the Ducks had endured six games and only one win. That was a long-awaited victory on November 30 against Montreal in what would turn out to be Randy Carlyle’s last night as coach. But the roar in the building that night couldn’t hold a candle to what we heard last night –
when Ryan scored with 48.8 seconds left, when Jonas Hiller made a desperation save with two seconds left and when time mercifully ran out on what is unquestionably the Ducks’ biggest victory of the year.

To qualify it: It was Bruce Boudreau’s first win as Ducks coach after two painful losses. It came in the throes of a losing trend that we haven’t seen the likes of in quite some time. And oh yes, it came against Anaheim’s bitter rivals, who had already beaten the Ducks on back-to-back nights last month.

Not to mention, it came on a night when the Ducks jumped out to a 2-0 lead, normally a good thing for a hockey club, but an uh oh moment for the Ducks lately. After all, they went up 2-0 in their last two games (Boudreau’s first two as coach) and lost both of them. And just like in those games, the Ducks allowed the opponent to claw their way back, giving up a late Kings goal in an otherwise well-played second period, then the tying strike on a horrible break in the third period.

Cam Fowler’s clearing attempt hit the stanchion between the panes of glass (the only time we ever use the word “stanchion”) and caromed in the opposite direction it was intended to go, right to the stick of Kings winger Justin Williams. One give-and-go later and Williams tied the game with 11 minutes to go. (“Ninety-nine times out of 100 …” Fowler said. “I couldn’t believe it when it happened. But at the same time I didn’t do a good job of recovering when it happened. You couldn’t leave it in the back of your mind. And the hockey gods rewarded us back with Bobby’s goal.”
 
Ah, those hockey gods.

Ten more minutes of grind-it-out hockey later, the game seem destined to head to overtime, until a faceoff in the Kings’ end of the ice turned into a Ducks goal in a flash. It was the Flash who won that draw over Anze Kopitar, getting the puck to trickle into the bottom of the circle, where Ryan pounced on it, and this is where the Ducks got a fortunate bounce of their own. Ryan sent the puck toward the net, where it kicked off the leg of defenseman Drew Doughty and fluttered elegantly over the shoulder of Jonathan Quick. All of a sudden it was bedlam in Honda Center as Ryan jumped into the glass before being hugged by Teemu Selanne.

Biggest goal of the Ducks’ season? Almost certainly.

But Anaheim’s work wasn’t even close to being done, as the Kings pulled Quick and there were some scary final moments in front of the Kings net. None was scarier than when the puck got away from Hiller in the crease, as he lunged for it and denied punch-in attempts by Jack Johnson and Doughty in the final seconds. Selanne kicked the quivering puck into the corner and the sound of that horn was like music to our ears.

“It’s not the Cup, but it felt pretty good,” Boudreau said. “There is no doubt. I felt really good for the players because they were smiling. They worked so hard. Had it 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. So, it sort of evened out.”

Ryan’s game-winner was his second goal of the night, the first coming in the first period to give the Ducks the lead and also heavily involving Selanne. Quick misplayed the puck behind the net and gave it away to Selanne. He quickly hit Ryan, who slung the puck into the abandoned net as he fell to the ice.

Ryan came into the game with just seven goals, but said an expert on such things predicted his luck would change last night. “It’s no secret it’s been a tough start to the season for me,” Ryan said. “Teemu told me this morning that things were going to start. He’s been through it a little bit in the past, not to this extent. It’s nice to rely on a guy who has scored that many goals, when he tells you that you’ll come out of it. For him to predict it tonight was huge.”

When things are going bad, and they have been for the Ducks, sometimes one win can change everything. The Ducks can only hope that’s the case with this one last night, especially with seven of their next eight games coming away from those thunderous roars at Honda Center. It was in front of those fans where Kent French asked Ryan if that win could be the spark the Ducks needed, "We certainly hope so," he said.

Later in the locker room, he added, “It’s a whole different feeling coming into this room tonight. It’s huge.”

Said Boudreau, "If we keep playing like this we might be able to get lucky enough to win in a tough building and then, who knows? The snowball might get bigger.”


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POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 12:52 PM

It's December 6, game 27 of 82, but it's safe to say tonight is the biggest game of the year for the Anaheim Ducks.

Yes, the Kings are in our barn, and that always means it's a big night, but this one takes on even more meaning because of what the Ducks are facing now. It's been six days since the Ducks replaced Randy Carlyle with Bruce Boudreau, a move made with the intent of turning around a dramatically slow start for Anaheim. But that turnaround hasn't been instant -- understandable for a coach quickly introducing a new system and still getting to know most of his troops.

The Ducks lost a 3-0 lead in Boudreau's first game, a crushing OT loss last Friday night against the Flyers, and surrendered a 2-0 lead in falling 5-3 to the Wild last Sunday evening.

If they're going to show a renewed vigor and a long-anticipated return to their winning ways, there is no better night than tonight against the most bitter of foes.

And it was Boudreau himself who cranked up that already-tense rivalry just a little bit more, when asked about Ducks-Kings on Sunday. "I think there's going to be a lot of hatred on both sides. When I was part of the Kings' organization, they certainly didn't like the Ducks," said Boudreau who coached the Kings' AHL affiliate in Manchester from 2001 through 2005.

"Now that I'm here, I certainly don't like the Kings."

That's our new coach speaking like your typical Ducks fan, whose distaste for the Kings has been amplified by L.A. taking the first two games of this Freeway Face-Off series last month. That came on back-to-back nights, when the Ducks went down 2-1 in a shootout at Staples Center and lost 5-3 the next night at Honda Center.

Boudreau, who is the subject of a nice feature today by Lisa Dillman in the L.A. times, reflected on his team turning things around after a rough start and a 0-1-1 record so far under him. “You’ve got to believe that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "You’ve got to believe when you do turn it around, then it’s going to be a real good situation. You have to believe there’s hope. If you don’t, then what you do play for?”

Tonight they play a Kings team that hasn't played since last Saturday, when they were edged 2-1 by a Montreal team the Ducks defeated last Wednesday just before Boudreau was announced as coach after the game. Los Angeles can related to Anaheim's difficulty in scoring goals, as they've had two or fewer in each of their last five games. But as has been the case most of the year, they've ridden on the back of Jonathan Quick and his stellar 1.97 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.

L.A. will be without Mike Richards, who is on injured reserve after taking a hit to the head last Thursday night against Florida.

The Ducks, on the other hand, got some good news on the injury front, as both George Parros (torn retina) and goalie Dan Ellis (groin) were activated for tonight's game. (Parros' availability will be a gametime decision, according to Boudreau.) That leaves only Lubomir Visnovsky (broken finger) and Jason Blake (lacerated arm) on the injured list for the Ducks. At last report, Blake is still on schedule to be out until mid-January, and Bob Murray said recently on NHL Live that the hope for Visnovsky is for him to return the middle of this month.

Oddly enough, Parros, Visnovsky and Blake are all former Kings, as noted in this interesting piece by Fox Sports West on the players who have worn both Ducks and Kings uniforms. Please excuse the glaring absence of goalie J.S. Aubin and this all-time classic helmet (although, in their defense, he never played a game for the Ducks).

<a href='http://www.foxsportswest.com/pages/video?UUID=e8b2c7e1-2948-4f0f-a267-d292cad20be0&src=SLPl:embed::uuids' target='_new' title='Kings and Ducks players'>Video: Kings and Ducks players</a>

- - -


The Ducks-Kings rivalry will of ourse remain intact after the radical realignment that was approved by NHL officials yesterday.

With the intent to decrease travel for its teams, the league will switch from its current format of six divisions to four conferences, likely as soon as next season. The move comes partly because of Atlanta's move to Winnipeg, putting the Jets in the Eastern Conference, where travel has been just as extensive as it has been for many other teams based in the Western part of North America.

There will be two mostly Western-based conferences with eight teams each, and two mostly Eastern-based conferences with seven teams apiece. The Ducks will be in what is now called Conference A, with the Kings, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver. That is one of the two mostly Western-based eight-team conferences, with the two seven-team conferences being made up mostly of Eastern-based teams. Here's a look:



Teams will now play a home-and-home against all nonconference teams, meaning we're guaranteed to see top Eastern Conference draws like Pittsburgh, Washington, New York, Philadelphia and the like here at Honda Center every season. Teams will play five or six games within their conference each season.

The top four teams in each conference will make the playoffs, with the first two rounds consisting solely or series within your conference. Commissioner Gary Bettman indicated he will consult with team GMs at their meetings in March as to whether the league will re-seed the playoffs in the third round.

The Ducks were among the significant majority of teams that voted for the realignment (a 2/3 vote among the 30 teams was required to approve the change). "I'm all for it," said Bobby Ryan. "I like the home-and-home with all teams. It'll help establish rivalries."

Said Boudreau, "It looks really good. I think it'll create great rivalries and it makes it easier for [teams] to stay in the same time zone. It's going to be tough to make the playoffs, but [it should be]."



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POSTED ON Monday, 12.05.2011 / 1:18 PM


The first win of the Bruce Boudreau win will have to wait, as the Ducks endured two games over the weekend -- the first two of his watch -- that unfortunately had all too much in common.

In both, the Ducks looked strong-to-quite-strong in jumping out to early leads, only to see those leads vanish. Friday night vs. Philadelphia, there was an inspired vibe throughout Honda Center as the Ducks jumped out to a 3-0, only to watch the Flyers chip away at it and tie it late in the third. Philly ultimately crushed the Ducks with a game-winner in overtime from Claude Giroux, which came after a Ryan Getzlaf tripping call had a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct minor added to it. 

Last night was much of the same, as the Ducks went in front 2-0, only to have the Wild score on a power play goal late in the first, then score two in a span of 32 seconds to go ahead.

“It looked like when they got the second goal, ‘Oh, they tied us. We’re not going to be successful,’ ” said Boudreau last night. “Now, when they got the third goal, it’s, ‘Oh, woe is us.’ So, you know, we've got to get that mindset out of them right away and be able to say, ‘Dammit, let’s go get it back.’ ”

Boudreau called timeout after the two quick goals, and was asked later what he told his new team. “I said, ‘Don’t hang your head. You look like you’re a beaten crew.’ If you can’t face a little adversity in sport or in hockey, you’re not going to get anywhere. I mean, pull up your socks and get mad rather than feeling sorry for yourselves.”

To Anaheim's credit, they did just that, tying it up when a Cam Fowler shot banked in off defenseman Marco Scandella's boot in the middle of the third. But the Ducks were bitten by another goal off a skate, this time Wild forward Nick Johnson's with 5 1/2 minutes left. Anaheim had a chance to tie it late when a power play and a pulled Jonas Hiller created a 6-on-4, but Cal Clutterbuck's empty-netter with 10 seconds left provided the stomach punch. 

It's a cliche, and it's one the Ducks have used to describe themselves previously this season, but Boudreau once again stressed it last night. "We have to play 60 minutes," he said. "We played about, I'd say, 12 good minutes in the first period and the shots were about 7-2. And the next thing it was 17-9 for them."

And it led to another frustrating Ducks loss, one that leaves them with a 7-14-5 record and 14th in the Western Conference. With 56 games to go in the regular season, and 10 points behind the eighth spot in the West, the Ducks unquestionably have a considerable hill to climb. But as Boudreau said last night, "It's been done before."

Indeed it has ... by Bruce Boudreau. In 2007 he took over a Washington Capitals team that was 6-14-1 and 30th in the NHL. They went 37-17-7 the rest of the way and won the Southeast Division.

(If this is all making you think of Jim Mora's famous "Playoffs???" rant, it's interesting timing. Today is the 10-year anniversary of that classic sound byte.)

“I’ve already gone through the schedule,” Boudreau said. “I’ll show them how we can do it, if you put the basis on 97 points needed for the playoffs. I told them, ‘You just have to believe it.’ ”

Making them believe will be no small task, especially considering the lulls the Ducks have suffered in recent games that have ultimately cost them dearly. Today they were back at work at Honda Center, getting ready for a huge game with the rival Kings here tomorrow night. Boudreau, despite being new to the Ducks, seems to be well aware at how intense that rivalry is, partly from his time as coach of the Kings' AHL affiliate in Manchester from 2001 through 2005.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of hatred on both sides,” he said. ”When I was part of the Kings organization, they certainly didn’t like the Ducks. So now that I’m here, I certainly don’t like the Kings.”


- - -
One positive of the weekend: The likeable Andrew Gordon got his first goal as a Duck on Friday night against the Flyers. Gordon's rebound punch-in that made it 3-0 at 6:31 of the second period was reviewed to see if it was kicked in, an agonizing few minutes considering cameras cut between the review and Gordon's elated face on the bench.

Thankfully, the goal counted, and Gordon's unbridled joy on the bench was apparent. Also, for those of you who care about such things, the reaction on Twitter to Gordon's goal led for him to trend worldwide, outranking "Happy Birthday Britney" and "Prom Night Dumpster Baby."

Interestingly enough, Gordon's first NHL goal came last December as a member of the Capitals ... under coach Bruce Boudreau. And it was on Martin Brodeur, no less.

Check out the awesome reaction to that goal by Gordon at the end of this video:

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POSTED ON Friday, 12.02.2011 / 1:43 PM

It's a tantalizing time here in Ducks land, as Game 1 of the Bruce Boudreau era starts tonight against the Flyers at Honda Center.

Since getting hired for the head coaching job Wednesday, Boudreau has had only one practice, one morning skate and individual meetings with his new players to make his early impressions on this team. It's enticing to see what kind of impact that will have in such a short time period, with Boudreau standing behind the Anaheim bench just two nights after the surprise announcement late Wednesday night that he would be the new Ducks coach. This morning he admitted what a whirlwind it's been for him the past two days, saying that when he left Honda Center last night at 6 p.m., "I went right to bed." He added, "But you get up at 3:00 in the morning, and then you start again."

Yeah ... wait a minute. Three in the morning?

Just listen to Boudreau talk about the possibilities and you can't help but feel pumped up about what's ahead for his Ducks. Yesterday, during a press conference following his first practice with the team, Boudreau spewed nothing but optimism, notably in discussing his decision to take the job not long after being let go in Washington.

"If I didn't believe that this was a team that had the possibilities and the makings of something special, I think I would have sat at home and waited," Boudreau said. "But I don't think opportunities like this come around every day, with the talent that we have here."

The Ducks go into tonight's game 14th in the West and 11 points short of a playoff spot, which Boudreau said is hardly indicative of how good they can (and will) be. "They've been a really good team. They've just sort of lost their way a little bit," he said. "I told them this morning that I believe in them. I think they're a really good team."

There was a lot to come out of yesterday's press conference, including the revelation from Bob Murray that trade talks involving Bobby Ryan have dissolved a bit. "I'm hoping everything settles down right now," he said. "I think it will." He told Ryan the same thing, leading Ryan to tell the media, "A lot of times players are left in the dark and it is tough. I appreciate Murph being honest with me and letting me know ahead of time, so I could focus on one thing and that's wins for the Ducks."

Ryan also had the line of the day in describing the team's first practice under Boudreau. "There's a little nervousness, what kind of impression you are going to make on your first day," he said. "It's almost like a first date. But I think it went well."

There was a lot said by a lot of people during the media sessions yesterday, but one thing that may have gone under the radar -- but stood out for me -- was Andrew Gordon's take on Boudreau's coaching style. Gordon, of course, played for Boudreau during his four years in the Capitals organization, so he was the go-to guy to remark on what his Ducks teammates can expect. The bottom line: Lots of offense.

"He wants us to play with the puck and he wants us to go up and down and be creative, support the puck and play offense," Gordon said. "We have a lot of guys with a lot of talent on this team and that is going to fit well. Once we grasp these systems, there a little tougher to get than the ones out there where you just back up and try not to make mistakes. He wants to push the pace a little bit, so once we grasp this, it’s going to be good and generate some offense for us.

"
He wants you to support the puck as opposed to pushing it down there and dumping it in. He’s going to allow someone like Bobby to make a move and beat a guy one-on-one. As long as we’re playing within the system, he wants to play offense. When he was a player, he scored beyond belief, so he knows what it’s like to be an offensive guy and want to play to your style. All the coaches are going to come together and let our big guns play offense. When you’re one of those guys expected to score, that’s a green light, and that’s good news."

Meanwhile, Boudreau's impact on the ice has already been felt, as he returned Ryan to the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Matt Beleskey has joined Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu in the second trio and will presumably be there to start tonight. Andrew Cogliano has centered the third line with Niklas Hagman and Devante Smith-Pelly.

It's a quirky coincidence that Boudreau is facing the Flyers in his first game with the Ducks. Four years ago in his debut with the Capitals, he also faced the Flyers. Boudreau pointed out that coincidence and a couple others during an intriguing interview this morning with Ducks radio analyst Dan Wood.

"There are so many similarities, I feel like I'm..." Boudreau said, then paused. "I watch a lot of movies, so I'm thinking of JFK and the similarities they point out with [his assassination and] Lincoln. [Washington was] 6-14-1 [when he took over], and I think we're 7-13-4 right now. We played Philadelphia our first game, we're playing Philadelphia tonight. The first game [Flyers coach] Peter Laviolette coached when he took over in Philadelphia was against me in Washington. The first game I'm coaching here is against Peter. It's weird."

Also in that interview, Boudreau pointed out the differences between starting with the Capitals and doing the same here in Anaheim. "It's more challenging," he said. "When I went to Washington I'd coached seven of the players from the year before. I knew the players. Here you're coming in pretty cold and pretty blind. You know the players and the reputation and those things, but you don't know them individually. So, it's going to take a little bit of time just to know them. I'm not using that as an excuse. I expect to win every game. But to know them the way you want to know them is going to take a long time."

I expect to win every game. You gotta like that motto.

"If you know me, my short-term is to win. My long-term it to win," Boudreau said. "I'm a very positive person, and I never think there is a hole too deep that you can't climb yourself out. I've already gotten everything written down on what we have to do to make the playoffs and beyond. Now it's up to me to make the players believe this is a feasible and possible situation to do."

I can report first-hand that Boudreau's optimism and the sensation of a fresh start has already instilled a positive vibe among the Ducks staff (including me, as you can tell by the 1,400 words I've dedicated to this). Meanwhile, someone from the Capitals staff sent over three of these Boudreau bobbleheads, now proudly displayed on a couple of desks here.

The entire Ducks and Honda Center staff was treated to a pizza luncheon this afternoon in which Boudreau made a quick cameo and speech. (While he spoke, a TV in the Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club was coincidentally showing an NHL Network replay of last night's Washington loss to Pittsburgh.) Boudreau didn't speak to the staff long (out of character for a guy who has earned the nickname "Gabby"), but he did finish with this line: 

"We're gonna have some fun."

What would really be fun is a win tonight against a Flyers team that comes to Anaheim for the second straight year without former Duck Chris Pronger, who is out four weeks following knee surgery. The other former Duck, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, is supposed to play tonight despite battling a cold that kept him out of last Saturday's game with the Rangers.

"You watch them out there doing little drills and picking top corners and everything else. You want to see it in a game because it's easy to do it when there is nobody that really doesn't like you playing against you," Boudreau said this morning. "Tonight I'm sure there will be some guys who aren't as friendly. We're playing a tough team and I believe they will be ready."

But no matter the opponent, this is an exciting time for the Ducks, the first of 58 games they have to climb out of this hole. And to hear Boudreau tell it, they can make it happen. 

"This is a team that before the season started, if you read a lot of the clippings, should really contend for the West and Pacific crown and I think they're very capable of doing it," he said. "I want them to believe in themselves. That's the message for today, believing in themselves."

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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 10:04 AM

In what had to be the strangest night in Anaheim Ducks history, the elation of a long-awaited victory was quickly replaced by the enormity of a major coaching change. 

At 10:21 p.m. Pacific time last night -- almost exactly an hour after the Ducks snapped a seven-game losing streak with a triumphant 4-1 win over the visiting Canadiens -- the Ducks announced that head coach Randy Carlyle had been replaced by former Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.

Despite the fact the announcement came well past bedtime in most of the hockey world, it spread like wildfire through social media and sports tickers throughout North America. It was a seemingly unprecedented move in which an NHL head coach was let go and immediately replaced by another established coach -- not a former assistant filling an interim role.

In Boudreau, the Ducks get a coach who had established himself among the NHL's best the past five seasons, a man made famous to America during a colorful stint on last year's HBO special 24/7 Penguins Capitals: The Road To the NHL Winter Classic. Boudreau, as it's already well-known, was let go by the Capitals on Monday after a rough 10-day stretch that Anaheim can certainly relate to.

But before we look ahead to the Boudreau era, we should look back to what Randy Carlyle meant to the Anaheim Ducks organization. He was the franchise's winningest coach with a 273-182-61 record highlighted by the team's only Stanley Cup title in 2007. In his six-plus seasons at the helm, he led the Ducks to the playoffs in five of them. For all of that, Ducks fans will be forever grateful.

But as Bob Murray said, the Ducks were in a position where "we simply felt a new voice was needed." 

“This was an extremely difficult decision,” Murray said in a statement released by the Ducks. “Randy is a terrific head coach, and did a tremendous job for us for six-plus seasons. We thank him greatly 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. Bruce is a proven winner with a great track record, and we are optimistic we can turn this season around under his leadership.”

The impact that a mid-season coaching change can have in the NHL is well-documented. In 2009, Dan Bylsma was hired in February to take over a Pittsburgh Penguins team that was a middling 27-25-5. Four months later they won the Stanley Cup. The year before, Joel Quenneville took over the Blackhawks just four games into a highly anticipated season in which they started 1-2-1. They made it to the conference finals that season, and two years later they were lifting the Cup.

Boudreau himself already has his own mid-season success story. He was hired as Caps head coach on November 22, 2007, after the team had started 6-14-1 and were 30th in the NHL standings. He went 37-17-7 the rest of the season, and led the Capitals to the first of four straight Southeast Division titles.

Boudreau won the 2007-08 Jack Adams award (NHL Coach of the Year), led Washington to the 2009-10 Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top club in the regular season and became the fastest coach in modern day NHL history to win 200 games.

Not long after the firing by the Caps, the Ducks asked Washington permission to contact Boudreau, who would have soon been highly coveted by other NHL teams looking to make their own changes at the helm. Soon after being let go by the Caps, Boudreau told the Washington Times he was ready to coach again immediately. "Absolutely. It's what I do," he said. "I love hockey and I love my job. Even when things are going bad, I love my job. I love going to work in the morning, and I feel comfortable when I'm behind my desk or behind the bench or talking to guys or being on the ice. It's something that I would relish doing."

That Ducks granted that wish, and in a hurry. Boudreau's last game coached with Washington was last Saturday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the six-day span between games coached with two teams is the fastest in NHL history. (Meanwhile, all I keep thinking is, if you had told me a year ago that the colorful guy on the HBO 24/7 series would be the Ducks' coach in less than a year, I'd have asked for some of whatever you were drinking.)

Boudreau will be meeting a lot of Ducks for the first time today, but he does have connections to a couple of them already. He coached Andrew Gordon during the winger's four years in the Washington organization, and he coached George Parros when they were both with the AHL's Manchester Monarchs.

Boudreau brings with him former Syracuse Crunch (Anaheim's AHL affiliate) assistant coach Brad Lauer and at least one other assistant to be named, as Carlyle's termination also brought the dismissals of Assistant Coaches Dave Farrish, Mike Foligno and Video Coordinator Joe Trotta. Boudreau and his staff take over a Ducks team that, despite that gratifying victory last night, wakes up this morning with a 7-13-4 record, 14th in the Western Conference and 10 points out of a playoff spot.

But the dawn of December represents a fresh start for the Ducks in so many ways. It's a new (and crucial) month in the NHL calendar, a new coaching staff and -- with all due respect to the admirable cause that is Movember -- the welcomed disappearance of the mustaches and Jonas Hiller's goalie mask that represented a horrific month in which the Ducks won just twice.

Boudreau and Murray will both be part of a press conference later today following Boudreau's first Ducks practice at The Rinks - Anaheim ICE. We'll have complete coverage this afternoon. 

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 10:30 PM

The elation of a long-awaited win tonight has been replaced by the gravity of the news that the Ducks have hired former Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau to replace Randy Carlyle as head coach. We'll have much more tomorrow.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 4:12 PM

Not much to say going into this Ducks-Les Habitants game tonight at Honda Center other than:

- Ducks badly need a win
- Nobody got traded

Let's go, Ducks.
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SCHEDULE

HOME
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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 21 12 4 5 58 53 29
2 VAN 20 13 6 1 61 60 27
3 NSH 19 12 5 2 54 40 26
4 LAK 20 11 5 4 53 44 26
5 CGY 21 12 7 2 66 57 26
6 STL 19 12 6 1 50 39 25
7 CHI 19 11 7 1 55 39 23
8 WPG 21 10 8 3 43 47 23
9 SJS 22 10 9 3 59 60 23
10 MIN 18 11 7 0 53 41 22
11 ARI 20 8 10 2 49 62 18
12 DAL 20 7 9 4 56 68 18
13 COL 20 6 9 5 49 64 17
14 EDM 19 6 11 2 48 65 14

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 20 6 13 0 19
S. Vatanen 21 5 12 -2 17
C. Perry 16 11 5 7 16
R. Kesler 21 6 9 -3 15
C. Fowler 20 2 9 1 11
M. Beleskey 21 9 1 4 10
J. Silfverberg 21 1 9 5 10
D. Smith-Pelly 18 3 4 3 7
A. Cogliano 21 3 4 -2 7
H. Lindholm 21 2 5 7 7
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 8 2 4 .918 2.18
J. Gibson 2 2 0 .927 2.28

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