James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Who gets the Boudreau boost?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Earlier Wednesday night, it seemed like the Daily Dose’s top focus would be Bobby Ryan. That turned out to be close to correct, but not because of a trade – at least not yet. Instead, the Anaheim Ducks dropped jaws all around the sleepless parts of the hockey landscape by firing Randy Carlyle in favor of Bruce Boudreau. (In case you’re hearing it here first … let that sink in for a minute. Bruce Boudreau was unemployed for less than 70 hours.)


After you wear out the profanity and ice cream-related jokes, the fantasy effect shifts into view. How will Boudreau impact a struggling Ducks team? Here are my guesses, fueled by an optimistic belief that he’ll coach a wide-open system rather than the compromised strategy he employed to try to keep his job with the Washington Capitals.


Bobby Ryan – Obviously, this one comes with a caveat that he won’t get traded, which isn’t a guarantee (even if logic states that he shouldn’t be traded). A more explosive offense should benefit the rising – but currently struggling – power forward quite a bit. Most importantly, Boudreau might decide to wedge Ryan somewhere in on the first power play unit, even if it means moving a top forward to the point.


Lubomir Visnovsky – It’s not fair to blame Carlyle (a former Norris Trophy winner) for Lubo’s dismal seven points in 16 games. Still, it’s likely that any kind of change might do Visnovsky some good and Boudreau is comfortable working with high-scoring defensemen. Of course, he needs to get healthy first.


Luca Sbisa/Devante Smith-Pelly – I’m not sure I’d want either of these two players on my fantasy team, but Boudreau has a knack for working with younger talent. If that carries over to Anaheim, then these are two guys who could find themselves in a positive situation.



Teemu Selanne – Barring a demotion to the second power play unit, it’s unlikely that Selanne’s numbers will change much either way. Boudreau would be silly to mess with something that has worked so well for so long, so it’s likely that the Finnish Flash will continue to be his highly productive self. (Unless Boudreau reminds him that he shouldn’t be so great at his age, that is.)


Corey Perry/Ryan Getzlaf – These two are the team’s most bankable and reliable stars. Their slumps and hot streaks will likely be their own, so I don’t think Boudreau will have a huge impact on them. If nothing else, they should be far less sensitive to harsh treatment than Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, so they might enjoy life with Boudreau. (I'm almost starting to lean on putting them in the "improvement" category, so let's move on ...)



Cam Fowler – If Visnovsky isn’t the Ducks’ version of Mike Green, then Cam Fowler is. That means you live with the bad stuff (-14 rating this season) to get to the good stuff. That probably won’t change much, although he might actually lose something in the process. As I mentioned earlier, Carlyle was a great defenseman in the NHL and could coach some defense, which isn't necessarily Boudreau’s strong point.


Jonas Hiller – It probably can’t get much worse for Hiller (hence slight decline), but Boudreau doesn’t have the same commitment to the Swiss goalie as Carlyle likely did. He might not have as long a leash, which isn’t great news considering how bad the Ducks defense is – and will probably continue to be. Perhaps that means benefits for Dan Ellis whenever he gets healthy, but the team's defense is bad enough that I wouldn't get too excited about their goalies putitng up great numbers. (They might squeeze out a few more wins, though, so maybe that's a good enough benefit for you.)


Anyway, those are my guesses for how this will play out. So far, we’ve seen one team (the St. Louis Blues) respond dramatically well to a new coach while the verdict is still out on the others. The Ducks might benefit from a bench boss who’s less of a taskmaster, although it cannot be ignored that Carlyle got the most out of a roster that seriously lacked in the “depth” category.


After the jump: Tomas Kaberle bashed, Victor Hedman gets paid and more.

continue story »
James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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