Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 12/2/11
Bruce Boudreau isn't one to play hookey from work. There aren't going to be many mornings lounging around the house reading the morning comics while watching The Price Is Right in sweatpants. "My wife wouldn't have liked that very much. No, I was looking for something to do," Boudreau said. "It's always important for me, anyway, to get out. I can't lie around and do anything. I was going to start watching games somewhere, going somewhere, and I think at that time I was making plans to go to Toronto and do some work with TSN or something. But this was much better." While we're intrigued by potential Boudreau broadcasting work, he found a much better fit when he agreed to become the eighth head coach of the Anaheim Ducks, replacing a friend in Randy Carlyle who was fired after Wednesday's 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Boudreau ran an up-tempo, competitive practice at Anaheim's practice rink on Thursday, which at the very thought makes you just shake your head in amazement at how quickly everything had developed. Anaheim GM Bob Murray "immediately" asked for and received permission from Washington GM George McPhee to speak with Boudreau, setting the events in motion. "I sat there on Tuesday and if I didn't believe that this was a team that had the possibilities of making something special, I think I would have sat down and waited," Boudreau said. "But I don't think opportunities like this come around every day with the talent that we have here. So I talked to my wife about it, and I said, 'I think we should jump at this.' I know it's only been a day, basically, since I got let go, but it was something that I thought was a chance that I wouldn't get again. So I jumped at it and got in the plane yesterday and here I am. So it's a new start. I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait to play. Let's get going." Carlyle, who was the third-longest-tenured NHL coach prior to his dismissal, won the 2007 Stanley Cup and exits as the winningest coach in Ducks history and someone recalled admirably by his friend in Murray and owners Henry and Susan Samueli. Boudreau's hiring likely settles any discussions over Bobby Ryan's future with the club. With Twitter seemingly acting as a Bobby Ryan Rumor Generator Wednesday evening, he now is able to center his focus on hockey without dealing with the distraction of a potential imminent trade. "It's nice to step away from it a little bit and just get ready to play hockey under a new coach and a new regime, and hopefully turn some of the season around, because there's still time," Ryan said. Murray tabled Ryan trade talks but remains open to player movement if presented with the right opportunity. "When you're struggling, and in a funk like we were, you get lots of phone calls," Murray said. "You always get phone calls. Sometimes you listen and sometimes you don't. And I'm not going to lie I was listening. But don't think for one second the calls were just on Bobby. That was a popular one, but don't think it was just him. I'm hoping everything settles down right now. I think it will. But again, I've said this if you're ever offered something that makes your organization better I don't care who the player is it makes your team better, you better damn well look at it." Questioned about his relationship with Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, Boudreau appeared eager to move on. "I think a lot of that was blown out," Boudreau said. "I got along really well with both of those guys, and I think I've said that for the last week that there was never a problem with either one of them. But we all tend to want to make something out of nothing, and we did. So there's really no story there." Saying that he would skate Ryan together with usual linemates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry for their first shift and "beyond that, we'll have to see how they do," Boudreau also outlined the temperament and confidence he's looking to build at Honda Center. "I want them to be very positive and I want to be aggressive. I want them to play the way they're capable of playing, and with energy and thinking that they're going to be successful the way they should be successful," Boudreau said. "This was a team that before the season started, if you read a lot of the clippings that they said would really contend for the Pacific Division crown, and I think they're very capable of doing it. I want them to believe in themselves. That's the message for today: believe in themselves." HUNTER OR HUNTED? Both men who became NHL head coaches for the first time earlier this week are still looking for their first win with their new clubs. Dale Hunter fell to 0-2 with the Washington Capitals after a 2-1 defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday dropped the club to 3-9-1 in its last 13 outings. The Capitals have been outshot 65-36 under Hunter prior to this weekend's action, though there was some good energy and competition in Thursday's loss after a poor outing against St. Louis. "It was something new for us. It's new system," Alex Ovechkin said to Capitals Insider. "I think when you get the cycle you have to go to the net right now it's just a period of time." They'll face Ottawa at home on Saturday as Hunter, who recorded 1,020 points in 3,565 games over 20 seasons with Quebec, Washington and Colorado, will look to right the plummeting Caps, who began 7-0 but have fallen to 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Kirk Muller is 0-2 after replacing Paul Maurice with the Carolina Hurricanes, who are 3-11-1 in their last 15 games. After Thursday's 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers, he spent an extra few minutes speaking with his team and getting his message through. "I said, 'Hey, no one said this thing is going to change overnight,'" Muller said. "We've got to do baby steps." The Hurricanes led midway through the second period in Thursday's loss and showed some resiliency in their ability to battle from behind, but just weren't able to earn a point against one of the hottest teams in the league. Still, Muller's message is starting to seep in. "It's tough but we've got to keep working," Skinner said. "We have to keep plugging away here. There's some stuff we need to work on but we have to focus on the positives." MONTREAL MUSINGS You never want to lose to a team in the middle of an extended losing streak, but that's what happened to the Montreal Canadiens as they fell in a lethargic performance in Anaheim on Wednesday that left some wondering whether they had bused out to California for their three-game trip. "We haven't been quite as good as we've liked to this year, so it's a big trip for us to try and get three good games in and play the way we want and try and string a few together here," Michael Cammalleri said prior to Wednesday's game. The result, so far? Two games, one point. Thursday night in San Jose they surrendered three one-goal leads and allowed a game-tying Ryane Clowe goal with 1:26 remaining before falling in a six-round shootout. On Saturday afternoon, they'll battle for a win in the finale of their three-game California trip when they face Los Angeles in an early afternoon matinee at STAPLES Center. With Max Pacioretty suspended for three games due to his high hit on Kris Letang last Saturday night, Montreal recalled the 18th overall pick of the 2009 NHL Draft and a former economics major at Harvard Louis LeBlanc, who issued three hits in a scoreless debut Wednesday in Anaheim. The Pointe-Claire, Quebec, native will always remember Wednesday as the night he lined up against Saku Koivu in his NHL debut. "He was my idol, so it was something big for me playing against him tonight," LeBlanc said to HabsTV. There have been some good developments by the 103rd edition of the Montreal Canadiens, namely on defense, penalty killing and goaltending -- attributes that often add up to consistent success on the road. "The thing about the penalty kill is not so much what the overall percentage is, but if in a key situation and you have to kill a penalty, you're able to kill that penalty," defenseman Josh Gorges said. If it's a 3-3 game and you take a penalty with five minutes left to go, if your percentage is 90 percent or 70 percent, that doesn't matter. It's if you kill that penalty, right then and there. That's what matters to us, and I think as penalty killers, that's what we take most pride in." Carey Price, who boasts two shutouts, a 2.29 GAA and .917 save percentage entering the weekend's play has provided improved play in net and is poised to become one of the Eastern Conference's most talented young goaltenders after bouts of inconsistency early in his NHL career. "He's been good. He's our favorite non-issue," Cammalleri said. ALL STAR HARDY HAR HARR Surely the impartial observers voting to select players to the NHL All-Star Game got it right when they voted, en masse, for Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. Of the top six vote-getters at forward, only one Sidney Crosby doesn't play for Toronto or Ottawa. On defense, Senators third-year skater and career minus-38 Erik Karlsson (who is vastly improved, to be fair) has 43,000 more votes than the next highest vote-getter, Leafs defender Dion Phaenuf. Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom, ranked fifth, is the only member of the six highest vote-getters that plays in the Western Conference. In goal, Toronto goaltender James Reimer, who has played six games this year and has been injured since Oct. 22, ranks in third place, well within striking distance of leading goaltender Tim Thomas. He's also seven spots ahead of Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick, who leads the league with four shutouts and posts a sub-two GAA. The top three vote-getters at forward, the top two defensemen and the top goalie will automatically be selected to the Jan. 29 game. We understand it. The All-Star game is in Ottawa this year, the fans are geared up and voting for their own, and there are probably a couple deserving Senators who have performed well for a team that's overachieving somewhat. Deserving players will still be added by the coaching staffs. But there are probably a dozen other buildings that are sold out nightly around the league that could just as easily be voting their own players into the game and by spreading the word for fans to do so online. There were some Flyers, Blackhawks and Red Wings mixed in there, but where was the West Coast representation? Where were all the Vancouver Canucks? Daniel and Henrik Sedin were the first players west of the Central Time Zone that were listed, and they were only the 16th and 17th highest vote getters at forward. Fans will vote for Rory Fitzpatrick, but not Joe Thornton? The Minnesota Wild, playing in their State of Hockey and leading the Western Conference with 33 points, can't find one player listed amongst the top 30 forwards, 20 defensemen and 15 goaltenders? Enough of these questions and shenanigans. Here's an All-Star ballot. Go ahead and vote for the most deserving players, if that's your thing. GAME OF THE WEEKEND Saturday, Dec. 3, 7 p.m. Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins Without a regulation loss for over a month and hosting an Original Six matchup against a Toronto squad that boasts the top two scorers in the league in Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, there should be a tremendous atmosphere at TD Garden on Saturday. Though the Bruins have outscored the Leafs 19-5 in sweeping the first three games of the season series, expect Toronto to give their best effort yet and force this game to be decided late.
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