Rumor Roundup: What off-season changes are in store for Blackhawks and Ducks?

Lyle Richardson
Andrew Shaw (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs underway, the remaining casualties from the opening round are taking stock. For the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, considered by some to be Cup contenders, their early exit raises questions about off-season changes.

A lack of skilled defensive depth proved the Blackhawks’ undoing against the St. Louis Blues. Chicago Tribune pundits Chris Kuc and David Haugh, along with USA Today’s Kevin Allen, believe addressing this issue should be GM Stan Bowman’s priority this summer.

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Bruce Boudreau fired by Anaheim Ducks after another Game 7 loss

Jared Clinton
Bruce Boudreau (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

For the fourth consecutive season, Bruce Boudreau’s Anaheim Ducks exited the post-season after losing a Game 7 on home ice. And while he may have kept his job following the past three heart-breaking defeats, the fourth Game 7 loss has cost Boudreau his job.

Anaheim announced Friday that Boudreau has been let go from his position as the Ducks’ bench boss, ending his tenure as the team’s coach after 352 games over the course of the past four and a half seasons. During his time with the Ducks, Boudreau had a record of 208-104-40, which puts him second in franchise history for coaching wins and first all-time in winning percentage among Ducks coaches.

“I would like to thank Bruce for his hard work and dedication to the franchise,” Ducks GM Bob Murray said in a statement. “This was a very difficult decision to make. Bruce is a good coach and character person, and we wish him the best of luck in the future.” Read more

Bergeron named Selke Trophy finalist, but Kopitar, Kesler stand in the way of three-peat

Jared Clinton
Patrice Bergeron (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Boston’s Patrice Bergeron will have a shot at the Selke Trophy three-peat — and his fourth nod as the league’s best defensive forward — but Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler will stand in his way.

The NHL announced the Selke finalists Thursday night with Bergeron, Kopitar and Kesler as the top three vote-getters for the award given to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” Both Bergeron and Kesler have won the award before, but Kopitar, who has been a finalist in each of the past two seasons, has never taken home the hardware.

Unlike other awards that can be judged off of pure statistics, the voting for Selke can be a lot more vague. Really, each of the three have good cases for the award. Read more

If Ducks fire Boudreau, who coaches them next? And who hires him?

Matt Larkin
Bruce Boudreau. (Getty Images)

(Update: The Ducks officially fired Boudreau on Friday.)

There’s an elephant in the Ducks’ room. Bruce Boudreau is about to become a scapegoat. Perhaps replaced by a walrus.

We don’t know yet for sure, but an endorsement from Anaheim Ducks ownership and/or GM Bob Murray for their coach would be awfully surprising. Boudreau, after all, just fell to 1-7 in Game 7s for his career. He couldn’t get his team motivated to start the first period Wednesday night against Nashville. That problem has plagued him throughout his career in Game 7s. He also couldn’t get his Ducks to adjust and start working the puck down low when the Predators completely clogged the front of their net, protecting goalie Pekka Rinne as Secret Service agents would the president.

Boudreau is good coach. He’s an offensive wizard, regularly fielding teams who score at will. He’s a turnaround artist who can take over a new team and convert it from an also-ran into a regular season juggernaut and playoff contender quickly. But, fair or not, it’s a cold, hard fact he continuously fails to win The Big One. He’ll likely have to fall on the sword. This stacked Ducks team really doesn’t need much, save perhaps for one more good goal scorer, so what else can it do besides try a different coach? Franchise pillars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry turn 31 next month. They’re still young enough to be impact NHLers and fuel a championship team, but their window is closing rapidly. Their best years are likely behind them now, so the Ducks must act swiftly to boot their odds of a 2017 Cup run. That probably means trying a new bench boss.

Who are the best candidates to replace Boudreau if he’s fired? And what are Boudreau’s options in his next search for gainful employment?

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More heartbreak in Anaheim as Predators send Ducks to another Game 7 loss

Ian Denomme
Pekka Rinne and Ryan Kesler.

The seventh game of an NHL playoff series is supposed to be as exciting as it gets. Given what’s happened the past four seasons, the Anaheim Ducks and their fans could be forgiven if they never want to see a Game 7 again.

The Nashville Predators added to the Ducks’ recent Game 7 woes on Wednesday with a 2-1 win in Anaheim, knocking off the Pacific Division champions. It’s the fourth consecutive year the Ducks’ season has ended in a seventh game, and all of the games have been at home. Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad scored first-period goals and Pekka Rinne made 36 saves, including 14 in the third period as the Ducks tried to rally.

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Pekka Rinne’s point-blank stop robs Corey Perry of potential game-tying goal

Jared Clinton
Pekka Rinne (John Russel/Getty Images)

Through six games of the first-round series against the Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks sniper Corey Perry hasn’t found the back of the net once.

Perry, 30, paced the Ducks with 34 goals in the regular season, and the former Rocket Richard winner hasn’t made a habit of being held off of the score sheet and out of the goal column throughout his career. Perry’s six-game goalless drought hasn’t come due to a lack of trying, though. His 14 shots on goal are the second-most among all Ducks forwards, and Perry has gotten pucks on goal from all over the ice. Monday night, that meant a point-blank opportunity to break his personal goose-egg for the series.

The only thing standing between Perry and his first goal of the series, though, was Predators netminder Pekka Rinne. And, just as he has done all series, Rinne turned aside Perry, continuing to frustrate the sniper in a series that has been much closer than anyone could have expected: Read more

Predators give themselves a shot at Game 7 glory by containing Ducks’ top stars

James Neal (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Predators haven’t seen the second round of the post-season since the 2011-12 season, and with their backs against the wall, Nashville did what few imagined they could do against an incredibly tough Anaheim Ducks team: they’ve forced the series to a one-game, winner-takes-all Game 7.

The Predators’ forced the deciding seventh game because, as they’ve done for much of the series, they shut down the Ducks’ top stars, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf and relied on their ability to counterpunch in order to take a hang on for a 3-1 victory. The Predators’ have frustrated Perry and Getzlaf all series, giving the duo almost no room to operate. Even when Bruce Boudreau paired Getzlaf with Perry, the two weren’t able to generate any offense and Predators netminder Pekka Rinne slammed the door on any and all chances the pair was able to get.

In the contests the Predators have won this series, Rinne was no doubt the difference between wins and losses. Nashville has had to rely on their veteran goaltender, too, because over the past three games they’ve only generated six goals. Luckily, one of those goals was James Neal’s game-winner, which came in the final minutes of the second. Read more

Ducks first team to strike on home ice as undisciplined play sinks Predators in Game 5

Filip Forsberg looks on Anaheim Ducks celebrate (Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

The first four games between Anaheim and Nashville saw the teams trade wins on home ice, but not in the way one would expect. The Predators took the first two games in Anaheim before laying two eggs in Nashville and watching as the Ducks knotted up the series at two wins apiece.

It felt like an inevitability that the series would shift depending on whichever team struck first on home ice, and Saturday night the Ducks did just that with a 5-2 victory. However, were it not for the undisciplined play of the Predators, the outcome could have been much different.

That’s unfortunate, too, because one would think Nashville would have been wary of giving man advantage opportunities to an Anaheim team that boasted the league’s best power play, but the Predators gifted the Ducks six full man advantages on the night. Worst of all, they were preventable penalties, especially those taken by James Neal and a backbreaking slashing minor taken by Mike Ribeiro in final minutes with Nashville trailing by one.

Neal, who is one of the veteran leaders of the Predators, took a needless interference penalty midway through the second period when Nashville had offensive-zone possession, and then again headed to the box when he elbowed Corey Perry following the end of the second frame. Those two infractions help Anaheim kill precious time, but Ribeiro’s minor was the most costly. With him sitting in the box, the Ducks struck for the first time on the night when Cam Fowler’s blast eluded Pekka Rinne 11 seconds into the power play. Read more