If this one wasn’t the final chance, well, it sure felt like it.
“I don’t know… I’m at a loss right now,” Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said, blank and empty after his team dropped another game — and this one they should’ve had.
After being shutout in five of eight games to start a season in which Vegas, EA Sports and many an NHL expert picked them to win the Stanley Cup, Boudreau’s Ducks came into Dallas swinging.
Three first-period goals in a span of four minutes and 26 seconds gave the visitors a 3-0 lead over the Stars and their shell-shocked fans some hope. Maybe the worst was behind them. It had taken Anaheim 219:34 to score their previous three goals.
Noting more adequately captures the mood of the Ducks’ bench right now than this zoom-in:
“It’s demoralizing. We have a 3-0 lead, and you should not lose a game like that,” Boudreau said. “We can sugarcoat it and say it’s ran out of gas, but these guys are professional athletes. There should be no such thing as running out of gas.
“The third period, it looks like we lost our composure because we couldn’t make a play to get out of our end.”
Despite significant personnel changes this off-season, Anaheim’s ineptitude is nothing short of shocking. No team has scored fewer goals (nine) or has accumulated fewer wins (one) than the Ducks.
Big-money forwards Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler don’t have a goal between them, and off-season acquisitions Kevin Bieksa and Chris Stewart are still searching for a point. No one on the roster is a plus player, and the leading scorer is Mike Santorelli, with three points.
The Ducks won’t stay this bad. Their defence has been middle-of-the-pack, and their penalty killing (89.3 per cent) rates second overall. Anaheim has positive even-strength possession figures, according to war-on-ice.com, and is only being outgunned by 2.6 shots per game.
Rumours of general manager Bob Murray searching to shake things up via trade have swirled, but Murray has yet to comment on the job safety of his 60-year-old head coach.
More concerning is that Boudreau, who led the club within one win of the Cup Final last spring, did not pick his assistant coaches.
Waiting in the wings are assistants Trent Yawney and Paul MacLean, the latter a Jack Adams finalist in 2012 with Ottawa.
Randy Carlyle, still under contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, has also seen his name tossed out as a candidate to replace Boudreau. Ironically, it was Boudreau who replaced Carlyle as the Ducks’ head coach in 2011.
The Ducks’ demoralizing Central Division tour next heads to St. Louis, where Boudreau’s team will face the banged-up Blues Thursday.