For most, the minute that Bruce Boudreau was named as successor to Randy Carlyle there were high expectations. How could there not be? The lore of Boudreau taking 2007-08 Washington Capitals from 30th place to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference (winning the Southeast Division nonetheless) was widely talked about in his first few games as Ducks coach. Here we sit after the Ducks holiday break and the team under Boudreau is an abysmal 2-6-2. Skyrocketing their way, not to the Pacific Division title, but to the first or second pick in the 2012 draft.
I think of Boudreau's success in Washington and lack thereof in Anaheim as a hockey version of the "nature versus nurture" argument. When Boudreau took over in Washington, he had spent the last three-ish years as a coach with the Caps minor league affiliate the Hershey Bears. Generally, the same system is taught between the AHL club and its NHL parent. When Boudreau got up to the big leagues, he was likely coaching the same system as in Hershey, just with a different "voice". Of the young players on his team, many of them had been coached by Bruce before. They knew what he expected of them and he knew what he was getting, for the most part, when he came to up to Washington. The team was already built, they were just waiting for him to arrive.
Upon his hiring in Anaheim, Boudreau made it no secret that he hadn't really paid much attention to the Western Conference, specifically the Ducks, unless the Caps were playing them. He knew the super stars, but not the small role players on the team or the prospects in Syracuse. His system is different than the one taught by Carlyle and what is being taught in the AHL. The players are taking everything that was ingrained in them for the past six years and turning it inside out. The construction of the team is moot because no one can really figure out what type of team this is supposed to be.
With 48 games left to go, Boudreau is only a small factor if the Ducks want to be successful this season. The task to completely turn things around is solely on the Ducks players. The '07-'08 Capitals became the offensive juggernaut we now expect them to be because they had the tools to do so.
Let's take a look at the 2007-08 Washington Capitals roster and see the point totals the team amassed in the regular season.
**Player did not play in the playoffs for Washington, due to injury, trade, healthy scratch, etc.
Data like this is nice to see, but tells you nothing if you don't have anything to compare it to. So, I did a little forecasting of the Ducks stats for the rest of the season. Below is the summary of the forecast, should every Ducks player stay at the same rate of production and stay with the team. If you'd like to see how I constructed the forecast, take a look at this spreadsheet - Washington vs Anaheim . (I came pretty close to what TSN is projecting, as well.)
**Player was traded, waived, loaned out, or sent to Syracuse as of noon on December 26th. ++Player is currently injured and not on active roster.
Yeah. Wow. As far as skaters, the only thing the Ducks are on pace to beat the Caps in is penalty minutes - not shocking at all.The goalies are a little more interesting. Until the past two seasons, Boudreau's Caps were all about scoring 100 goals in a game, and if they let in only 99, that was fine because they still go the win. The Ducks sure are letting in a lot of goals but they aren't able to counter with that one extra goal to push them over their opponent. The goalies aren't going to be able to save this season. Sure they'll have to steal a game here or there, but without a massive offensive outburst in the near future, the Ducks fate is good as sealed.
So what's next? Do we let everyone's numbers go down the crappers for the top draft pick or does Bob Murray blow up the team to start a major rebuild? The scariest part of the latter is that we have no idea what he's thinking. In years past, he kind of dropped hints to the OC Register and LA Times of what he was trying to do. Usually that includes threats to everyone on the roster that they could soon find themselves out of Anaheim. We really haven't heard anything like that beyond he's listening to offers on various players, not actively shopping. I have to wonder how much input Boudreau has in this. If it's Bob's plan to ship off Getzlaf or Ryan, what does Bruce have to say about that? Ahh, so many questions, so few answers.