Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Carousel Continues

If you thought that Bruce Boudreau would have been out of work for less than a week, you're probably a little more clairvoyant than you think. Today, it was announced that Bruce Boudreau, former bench boss for the Washington Capitals, would replace Randy Carlyle as the head coach of the Anaheim Ducks. Boudreau takes over just six days after being ousted in Washington, and his jump to the west coast should hopefully bring more fun to a Ducks lineup that simply looks like it isn't having fun right now.

Carlyle's days were numbered after the Ducks started the season in a major funk. They weren't scoring, they played some horrid defence in their own zone, and their goaltending was simply sub-par. In short, Carlyle wasn't getting the production needed that saw the Ducks go red-hot towards the end of the season last year. This season, the Ducks started ice-cold, and Carlyle paid for these results with his job.

There's no doubt that Randy Carlyle will find another head coaching job if he wants one. Carlyle has a Stanley Cup ring with the Ducks, and he got the best out of players like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne, and Lubomir Visnovsky. The last one was more of a surprise considering Visnovsky hadn't been known for anything more than his name, but Carlyle put his faith in the defenceman, and Visnovsky played well above his previous seasons' levels. Carlyle can get results, and his track record proves it.

However, much like in Washington with Bruce Boudreau, the Ducks seemed to tune out Carlyle in their poor start to the season. While it's true that the majority of teams were keying on Perry, Getzlaf, and Selanne, Bobby Ryan was mentioned in a vast number of trade rumours because of his lack of production this season compared to last season. Visnovsky has been injured, Hiller hasn't been the same since returning from vertigo, and the rest of the Ducks seemingly were trudging along without elevating their level of play. Again, Carlyle paid for this with his job as his message of sound defensive play and a good transition game were falling on deaf ears.

So the task now falls to Boudreau to get the Ducks back on track in the Western Conference. With his ability to teach offensive play, the Ducks could take on a different look in week as Boudreau installs his system. Boudreau gets one clear advantage as head coach of the Ducks that he never had in Washington: Carlyle taught them how to be defensively responsible and accountable for their play. If he can incorporate those elements into a more offensive scheme for the Ducks to play, the Pacific Division could see a four-horse race for the division title by season's end.

As it stands, the Bruce Boudreau era in the NHL shifts from Washington to Anaheim as the head coach was out of work for less than a week. Personally, I'm excited to see what Boudreau can do with a team that actually can play defence. While they may struggle offensively, the Ducks could turn into a complete team with a little time and some Boudreau cussing teaching.

Do the Ducks have enough time to get in the playoff race? Absolutely. But they had better start listening to their coach if they want to make this season a little more interesting for themselves and their fans.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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