Hockey Headlines

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Thanks, Bruce

Bruce Boudreau is a pretty smart guy. He has the Anaheim Ducks challenging for the President's Trophy once again, and he took Washington to heights they haven't seen since he left. He wears his heart on sleeve as he occasionally will react to something on the ice with tenacity, and he occasionally will give a sound bite that makes reporters chuckle. Today was one of those days where he said something honest and true, but in doing so he may have lit a fire under a team that is gunning for a playoff spot. If you're a fan of a team that's fighting for a playoff spot, Boudreau's comments today might be the catalyst that sees your team miss the playoffs.

Bruce Boudreau, prior to the game against the Los Angeles Kings last night, was asked about the Ducks possibly meeting up with the Kings as a first-round match-up in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs.
And with that comment, the Los Angeles Kings have something they can post on the bulletin board and inside every locker in their dressing room. Bruce Boudreau admitting he would like to see the Los Angeles Kings miss the playoffs is probably the worst strategy one could have when it's very likely the Ducks could meet the Kings if the Kings were to secure the eighth playoff spot or better in the Western Conference.

Yikes.

First off, it sounds as if Boudreau is suggesting that the Ducks are scared of the Kings. It's almost as if Boudreau is suggesting that his team would be better off not seeing the Kings, who have won more playoffs series over the last three years than any other team. I understand the respect that Boudreau would want to show the defending Stanley Cup champions, but to make it sound like you're afraid of them isn't a wise tactic. However, when we go to Curtis Zupke's article on NHL.com, we get the full comment and it becomes clearer what Boudreau is trying to convey.
"We hope they don't make it," Boudreau said. "They're a great team and they're Stanley Cup champions and they've got that blood in them. All three years they've been in the final four. It's always 'Be careful what you wish for.'"
Boudreau's comments aren't all that dangerous when it comes with context. However, you know the Kings will want to use this as motivation, and that has to worry teams like the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets who are in the midst of a battle with the Kings for their playoff lives.

The Kings can move ahead of the Calgary Flames with a single point against the Ducks tonight, and this would guarantee them a second-round match-up with the Ducks if both teams were to win their first-round series. Los Angeles would play Vancouver while Anaheim, depending on tonight's results, would get Minnesota or Winnipeg. All three of Calgary, Winnipeg, and Los Anegeles have twelve games remaining after the Kings play the Ducks tonight, so it literally will be a race to the finish. Los Angeles now has motivation for crossing the finish line first.

If we look at these three teams' schedules, here is the combined records for the remaining teams as of today:
  • Calgary: 392-345-117 or a win percentage of .528.
  • Los Angeles: 421-326-93 or .557.
  • Winnipeg: 467-288-84 or .607.
Clearly, Winnipeg has the toughest battle to make it into the playoffs with the remaining games. However, there are some teams that can throw monkey wrenches into the plans of these three teams. Edmonton plays LA twice, Winnipeg once, and Calgary once. I know they're gunning for McDavid or Eichel, but fans of the three teams in question might want to cheer for the Oilers when their number comes up on the schedule of the other two teams. Colorado and Minnesota both face each team once as well.

For Calgary fans, Vancouver has two dates with Los Angeles and two with Winnipeg. Both the Jets and Kings will also face the Rangers once each and Chicago once each. For Los Angeles fans, Winnipeg has two dates with St. Louis while Calgary has one. For Winnipeg fans, there aren't any other crossovers for the Flames and Kings. You're just hoping they lose.

It should be an interesting race to the playoffs for these three teams. There are a few tough games coming up on all the schedules - including seven games in a row against teams with 40+ wins for the Jets - but you don't deserve to be in the playoffs if you can't put a scare into the teams ranked higher than you. The LA Kings have won a Stanley Cup from the eighth-seed before so they have the experience, but you know the Flames and Jets want a shot at making history as well.

The one thing that the Jets and Flames didn't need, though? More motivation for the Kings. Thanks, Bruce Boudreau.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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