Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau and player Francois Beauchemin will blog for The Times occasionally throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs. Today, Boudreau gives his general thoughts on the playoffs overall so far.
Hello, hockey fans!
The first round of the playoffs reminds me of Christmas when I was a kid. I used to run down the stairs and rip open every gift without even looking at them, I was so excited. That’s what the first round seemed like to me. Everyone was so excited that the playoffs were here, and the players were so pumped up. There was a lot of hitting and wild play.
Now things have settled in a little bit. It’s much more methodical and the pressure starts to build. But the play has still been fantastic -- I can’t wait for the games to come on each night.
It’s hard to say this, but the most impressive team so far has been the Kings. I’ve said from the beginning of the playoffs, they are as well-rounded a team as there is right now. Darryl [Sutter] does a really good job implementing his system and makes great adjustments during the course of a game. It’s quite a battle when you face them.
Speaking of our divisional rivals, Phoenix is also impressive. I talked to John Anderson [Coyotes assistant coach] after we played them toward the end of the season. I told him, “If Mike Smith plays like this in the playoffs, you can win it all.” He was great against us in the regular season and continually dominates games. You knew Nashville would come out fired up Wednesday night for a few reasons. Naturally being down 0-2 in the series, but also because their staff made a fabulous, bold move in regards to the suspensions. From afar, that seemed to rally the troops. But Phoenix will be tough to beat in the series because of Mike Smith.
Although they are rivals, I like the fact that the Pacific Division is doing so well. I think we might have the best division in hockey. That’s why the points were down in our division. Nobody had 110 points simply because too many good teams are playing each other.
As far as some of the other action, it’s been interesting to watch the Capitals and Rangers. The other three series have been more entertaining in terms of action, but that might change soon. The Atlantic Division teams all play fast hockey, but the Rangers got away from that a little bit in this series vs. Washington. The Capitals play a real dump-it-in, wait-for-your-chances type of game. And they are doing a great job of getting people to block shots. Everyone is lauding [goalie Braden] Holtby, but frankly the Rangers aren’t getting a lot of chances. But Wednesday night seemed like a missed opportunity for Washington. First, the Rangers didn’t fall behind. But more importantly, the Capitals couldn’t take advantage of the Rangers only playing five defensemen.
A lot has been made about Ovechkin and his ice time. I admire Dale Hunter for following the beat of his own drum. He is looking at the game and saying, “This is how we are going to win.” He’s staying true to himself and doing exactly what he thinks is the right thing in order to be successful.
In the end, I’ve always like the Rangers. If they get Dubinsky back and Boyle gets back to full strength, they can win the East.
I still think L.A. will win the West. So I’m out on a limb saying Kings vs. Rangers for the Cup.
Thanks for reading!