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Seventh Game Of A Seventh Game: Boudreau's Unlucky History With Number Seven

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Narrative Alert! Bruce Boudreau hasn't been successful in seventh games. May as well lay out all of the past on the table.

There's a lot to be said about this man's record in game sevens.
There's a lot to be said about this man's record in game sevens.
Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Did you know that Bruce Boudreau coached NHL teams are 1-5 in game seven situations with all of them played at home, and that he's 0-2 in seventh games while coaching the Ducks? According to the folks at hockey-reference.com, that .167 winning percentage is well below the the .590 mark that home teams have put up in the league's 166 previous postseason series finales.

Let's throw even more historical Boudreau coaching info at you, gleaned via hockeydb.com:

  • In his eight years as an AHL head coach he won his only seventh game, as Hershey knocked off the Portland Pirates (then Mighty Ducks affiliate) on the road when the Bears won the Calder Cup in 2005-06.
  • Boudreau also won his only seventh game in the ECHL when the Mississippi Sea Wolves captured the Kelly Cup at home against the Richmond Renegades in 1998-99.
  • Back in the old International Hockey League he went 2-0 as Fort Wayne Komets head coach in 93-94, knocking off both Paul MacLean's Peoria Rivermen in round one and Terry Murray's Cincinnati Cyclones in round two on the road before falling in five games in the Turner Cup Final.

So when you factor in his perfect 4-0 game seven record in the minors, Boudreau is a career .500 in game sevens as a professional hockey coach. Still, judgment is rendered most heavily based on performance on the grandest of stages. With that in mind, lets revisit each of the previous game sevens Boudreau's teams have played.

April 22, 2008 - Round One: [6] Flyers 3 @ [3] Capitals 2 (OT)

After taking over 21 games in to the season and leading Washington to their first division title since 00-01 in a weak Southeast, Boudreau's side rallied from a 3-1 series deficit against a Philadelphia team that had finished a point better than them in the standings. The Caps forced game seven thanks to 3-2 and 4-2 victories with Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, and Alex Ovechkin each scoring twice in the two game span.

At Verizon Center for the decider the Caps jumped in front as Backstrom converted on an early two-man advantage, but a Semin hook allowed Scottie Upshall to knot the game with a power play response to to send the game to intermission 1-1. The teams traded goals in the second, but Washington took control by outshooting Philly by a 29-14 margin over the final two periods including a 16-5 edge in the penalty-free final regulation frame. Tom Poti's tripping minor in OT enabled Joffrey Lupul to score the power play series winner, and Martin Biron's 39 saves outdid Cristobal Huet's 31.

April 28, 2009 - Round One: [7] Rangers 1 @ [2] Capitals 2

I know what you're thinking- but the Rangers own the Capitals in game sevens! Those implosions have come in the years since Boudreau got the boot. As a matter of fact, it was the venerable Henrik Lundqvist who saw his side squander series leads of 2-0 and 3-1. Washington used a pair of 4-0 shutouts by Semyon Varlamov in games three and five, as well as jumping on the Blue Shirts 5-1 through two periods at Madison Square Garden to ride to a 5-3 game six win.

It was a 'nervous nelly' start for Washington as they got outshot 8-2 in the first period, but escaped the first 20 tied 1-1 thanks to Semin's ten minute later response to Nik Antropov's game opening goal 5:35 in. The rest of the way the Caps outshot New York 22-7, including 13-1 in the third period before Sergei Fedorov (yupthat guy) scored the winner with a tick under five minutes to play. King Henrik, beaten by a rookie on the road in a game seven.

May 13, 2009 - Round Two: [4] Penguins 6 @ [2] Capitals 2

The first ever Ovechkin-Crosby Derby, and it provided everything hockey fans and network executives could've hoped for, save a competitive finale. In a series featuring three overtime games, Pittsburgh rallying from a 2-0 deficit, and the Caps saving elimination on the road thanks to a David Steckel overtime winner, and Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby scoring six times apiece before the deciding game.

The final round would go as a TKO for the Pens with Pittsburgh racing out to a 4-0 lead in the first 22:12 of the game to chase Varlamov, to that point having out-shot the shellshocked hosts by an 18-5 margin. It was Crosby setting the tone in the first, opening scoring on a power play after a Shaone Morrisonn slashing minor that was followed up eight seconds later by a Craig Adams tally. In the second it took Crosby 28 seconds to set up Bill Guerin, and then Kris Letang less than two minutes later to bring out Bruce's hook. By the time the Capitals found their footing it was already over.

April 28, 2010 - Round One: [8] Canadiens 2 @ [1] Capitals 1

If you're looking for the time that the 'Boudreau teams can't win in the playoffs/game sevens' narrative really took hold, this would be after this series. Washington won their first ever Presidents Trophy with a 121-point regular season, eight points better than the next closest San Jose Sharks, and built a 3-1 series lead after blistering the Habs in the Bell Centre by 5-1 and 6-3 margins. After being pulled in favor of Carey Price during game three and sat for game four, Jaroslav Halak put the forcefield up from then on. 37 saves in game five and 53 in game six, giving up just a single goal in each.

A late Mike Green cross check turned a four-on-four in to a four-on-three, and with thirty seconds remaining in the first Marc-Andre Bergeron gave the Canadiens the lead. From there it was the Halak show, as he stopped 30 of 31 shots in the final 40 minutes, yielding to Brooks Laich only 1:20 after Dominic Moore had doubled the Montreal lead with 3:36 remaining, finishing with 41 saves. The vaunted Capitals power play came up empty three times in the game, and they became the second consecutive Presidents Trophy winner to get the boot in the opening round. Washington got swept by the Lightning in the second round the next year, and Boudreau would be fired 22 games into the following season.

May 12, 2013 - Round One: [7] Red Wings 3 @ [2] Ducks 2

There are some unseemly parallels between this series and the one the Ducks are currently embroiled in. Detroit earned their first two wins of the series in overtime before Nick Bonino was the early extra session hero for Anaheim in game five to put the Ducks ahead going to the midwest with a 3-2 series lead. At Joe Louis Arena the Ducks fell behind 3-1 in the third period, but Emerson Etem and Bobby Ryan caught lightning in a bottle 51 seconds apart to tie the game with 2:38 to play. Henrik Zetterberg then forced the seven game in short order, just 64 seconds in to overtime.

Zetterberg unsettled things near immediately at Honda Center with a goal 1:49 in, but the real killer came just under three minutes after Etem had tied it when Justin Abdelkader (after having ended Toni Lydman's career earlier in the series with a vicious charge) scored on a shorthanded breakaway. Francois Beauchemin fumbled the puck at the blue line on a Bonino back pass, and his attempted backhander across the blue line was intercepted and then put through Jonas Hiller's five hole. Valtteri Filppula made it 3-1 with 6:15 to go in the second, and a late third period Beauchemin power play goal wasn't enough. Detroit controlled the shots on goal battle at even strength 31-26, with the Ducks going 1/4 on the power play.

May 16, 2014: Round Two - [P3] Kings 6 @ [P1] Ducks 2

In a series that saw the road team take the first four games of the series, Boudreau opted to go with Frederik Andersen in game three after Hiller came up empty in the first two, and when Andersen left that game injured it was John Gibson's crease. With Hiller getting the Jose Theodore treatment to Gibson's Varlamov, the Ducks jumped out to a 4-1 lead before the midway mark of game 5 but had to hang on for dear life down the stretch. Gibson gave up a killer cheapie to Trevor Lewis in game six at STAPLES, which was all LA needed to hang on for a 2-1 result and to force game seven.

You know what happened in the game- it was a virtual carbon copy of the Caps-Pens game from 2009, right down to the rookie goalie getting pulled after four goals against and the winning team going on to claim the Cup. Read our original recap from Chris, if you must.

So Now What?

Ryan Getzlaf himself said he was "terrible" and trying to do too much in game six at United Center. Boudreau acknowledged that as somewhat of an issue with his side in talking about their late series play last season against Los Angeles. When looking at the five losses his teams have suffered in the ultimate do-or-die games, twice there have been complete blowouts, one that could be argued as not as close as the final result (Ducks-Red Wings), one stolen by a hot goalie, and the first with an overtime power play deciding a game where the winning goalie was slightly better.

Maybe it's time for Ryan Kesler, who was part of the 2011 Canucks team that survived a reverse sweep attempt by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane's Blackhawks to win in game seven overtime at home, to step to even more of a leadership role. He's been the guy out there against Toews all series whenever possible, and especially if Joel Quenneville is going to continue loading his captain up with Kane considering the duo's success against Getzlaf's line in game six, Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg become all the more critical at home in game seven.

Does any of this allay the concerns likely coursing through parts of the Ducks fans base? Probably not. For what it's worth Chicago is 1-3 in road game sevens all-time, and 1-2 in seventh games under Quenneville. Coach Q himself is 2-4 all time, and 1-2 on the road in game sevens. After all, he could never get it done with teams that were amongst the best in the regular season when it counted in his first eight seasons as an NHL coach either.

Amazing what a collection of elite talent has done for Quenneville's reputation. The time is now for Anaheim to do the same for Bruce Boudreau.