Ducks’ upcoming trip could affect Bruce Boudreau’s health, job security
Bruce Boudreau’s job wasn’t in danger when the Ducks went winless in their first four games, but the tomato-redness of his complexion after they were shut out by Colorado on Friday indicated losing had become hazardous to his health.
His face was a hearty pink Sunday after the Ducks held off the Minnesota Wild in a 4-1 victory, suggesting that wins are good for a coach’s blood pressure. “It’ll make him sleep a little bit better, that’s for sure,” Boudreau said of what amounted to an explosive offensive display by his goal-starved team.
The Ducks aren’t nearly the powerful and productive team they were projected to be this season, and Boudreau’s job security could erode if this slow start turns into a prolonged struggle.
Not until center Rickard Rakell deflected a shot by defenseman Hampus Lindholm past Minnesota goaltender Devan Dubnyk for the Ducks’ second goal Sunday — and third this season — had any of their forwards scored a goal. And after five games their leading scorers are Lindholm and fourth-liner Mike Santorelli, each with a goal and an assist. “Yup,” Boudreau said cheerfully.
He could laugh because he saw enough signs in that loss to Colorado and victory over Minnesota to believe the worst is behind them. Eight players recorded their first points of the season Sunday — including perennial team scoring leaders Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf — mainly because they played to their collective strength.
“You saw a lot of the goals that were scored were from right in front of the crease, which is the identity of our team,” defenseman Cam Fowler said. “We got back to doing that and get some pucks back to the point and feed them through, and that’s when our big forwards go to work.”
Adjustments were inevitable after General Manager Bob Murray made significant off-season moves, and Murray is willing to be patient while things settle. But the Ducks will have to make up ground on fast-starting San Jose and Vancouver, and they have fewer points than every opponent they’ll face on their upcoming trip to Nashville, Minnesota, Chicago, Dallas and St. Louis.
“Yeah, it’s a different feeling but hopefully we start getting better,” Boudreau said. “This trip is going to be a real eye-opener for us, playing five really good teams. We’ll hopefully have our heads above water when we come back home.”
If not, his blood pressure could be back at unhealthy levels.
Kings not jonesing for Martin Jones
Former Kings backup goaltender Martin Jones has been the key to the San Jose Sharks’ strong start, having won his first four decisions before losing to the New York Rangers on Monday. He’s 4-1-0 with a 1.18 goals-against average, .957 save percentage and two shutouts for the Sharks (4-2-0).
Although Kings fans might be upset that Jones was traded to a Pacific division rival four days after the Kings had traded him to Boston in the Milan Lucic deal, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said he’s not bitter about the way it played out.
The Kings couldn’t afford to sign Jones, who was about to become a restricted free agent and probably would have drawn offer sheets from other teams. Lombardi thought the compensation they would have gotten on an offer sheet wouldn’t have been close to Jones’ worth, so they traded him to Boston with a first-round draft pick and a prospect for the prolific Lucic and got the Bruins to keep part of Lucic’s salary. Compensation is based on the average annual value of an offer sheet.
“Boston did nothing underhanded. Don Sweeney was very upfront that he was probably flipping him and where he was going,” Lombardi said of the Bruins’ general manager. “Better to get Lucic than the offer sheet [compensation].”
Jones has stabilized the Sharks; Lucic has one assist and is minus-two defensively in five games and can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Any judgment on that part of the trade should be put on hold for a while.
And then there was one
Victories over the weekend by the New Jersey Devils and the Ducks left the Columbus Blue Jackets (0-6-0) as the NHL’s last winless team. Holes on defense have undermined goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (5.07 goals-against average, .835 save percentage) and have led to an unenviable 13 goals scored and 30 against.
At the moment, firing Coach Todd Richards appears to be the Blue Jackets’ second option, after trying to reinforce their defense. “There’s nothing available that fits our plans, or the price is so steep that ... you can’t do that,” General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch on Monday. “Misery loves company, right? So you talk to teams that are in a similar situation and try to work something out, but it’s not easy…
“If there was a change to be made on any level, where we thought this was the right change for our team and it’s definitely going to make the group better, we would have done it. We’re not going to just blow it up because we’re going through a tough stretch.”
Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby matched his longest drought of his career when he was held scoreless Saturday by Toronto, his fifth straight game without a point. He last went that long without a point in November 2009…. The Blues will be without center Paul Stastny indefinitely after he blocked a shot and sustained a lower-body injury Friday. He had five points in his first five games…. Congratulations to referee Marc Joannette, who officiated his 1,000th NHL game Saturday.
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