What Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has built within the Ducks’ franchise over the past two and a half years is something most never dreamed could never be achieved for West Coast hockey.
Boudreau joined the Ducks’ coaching staff during a rocky 2011-12 season, and although his immediate turnaround for the club only lifted the Ducks to 13th in the Western Conference that year, great things finally began to roll for Anaheim, and have continued to do so since.
This season, Bourdreau and the Ducks are currently ranked a top the Pacific Division, and stand in serious contention for the league leading President’s Trophy.
But what does a season of bests and franchise records mean for the upcoming playoffs?
Last year’s postseason left much to be desired from Anaheim and their fans alike; the Ducks were eliminated in seven games by the pesky Detroit Red Wings. While many placed blame on the crumble of goalie Jonas Hiller or a lack of goals from Corey Perry, the Ducks’ ultimate downfall came from the team’s inability to overcome goal deficits and the mental game that resulted. The Ducks lost in Game 7 of the series after falling a few goals down to the Red Wings early on in the game — perhaps a reason the Ducks haven’t met a deficit in the current season they weren’t capable of recovering from.
Having almost completely eliminated last year’s weaknesses, this postseason looks more promising for the Ducks than last.
The team’s offensive structure with four lines deep of speed leaves Anaheim with the ability to consistently drive pucks to the net through a full 60 minutes. The Ducks’ defense, despite taking a minor dive in recent games, looks to the return of Cam Fowler just in time for the first round; a fully rested Fowler will be much needed for Anaheim to push through the first round.
Perhaps going back to last season’s heartache, what this team has more than any other team entering the playoffs this year is memory of the sting from falling short of their potential last May and an entire season of proving this year’s ending will be different.