NHL analyst and former All-Star Jeremy Roenick pens a weekly blog for NHL.com. "World According to JR" appears every Wednesday and includes Roenick's sharp, can't-miss opinions on What's Clicking and What's Missing in the National Hockey League.
The Anaheim Ducks' amazing run under coach Bruce Boudreau and why the New York Islanders can't ever get over the hump. It's all in the blog, so read on:
It's amazing to watch what the Anaheim Ducks are doing right now. They were 20 points out of eighth place on Jan. 6, but entering Tuesday's game in Tampa Bay they are five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference
Incredibly, when Boudreau arrived just a few days after getting fired by Washington, the Ducks still couldn't get it right. They won just three of their first 14 games under him, but they are 15-2-4 in their last 21. For a team that looked like it couldn't do anything right, to change coaches like that and all of a sudden catch fire the way the Ducks have and play as soundly defensively -- it's just amazing.
This is a team that couldn't keep the puck out of the net, and now teams are finding it hard to get even one goal. Mind you, these are some of the same teams that were scoring in bunches against the Ducks. The same teams now can't score against them. Amazing.
My hat goes off to Boudreau and the mentality he's brought in there. I'm sure there were players on that team that were sick and tired of Randy Carlyle's drill-sergeant mentality; seeing now how Boudreau is with this team, at least it seems to me that the players are really playing hard for him and buying into his system.
The run they're on now, being as close to a playoff position as they are -- and with a lot of it being on the road -- tells me this is a team on a mission.
Moreover, they are fun to watch.
Teemu Selanne, at 41, continues to defy his age. He's just as fast as anybody out there now, and with his brilliant hockey mind he's leading this team. Guys like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan are following right with him.
Perry, in fact, is the best second-half player in the NHL, bar none. You saw the way he finished last season on an absolute tear, and he's doing it again. He's scored six goals in his last five games.
Between Selanne and Perry, they're bringing this team back into the playoff hunt.
It'll be interesting to see if they make the playoffs, and even more interesting to see if a coach that got fired by one team can win the Jack Adams Award in the same season with another team. That's never happened before. I would think Boudreau would be a shoe-in if the Ducks make the playoffs.
I don't know if the New York Islanders even want to play in the postseason.
This team probably works as hard, if not harder, than any in the National Hockey League. But when the moments get bigger, they seem to find ways to lose in big ways.
So there they were, six points out of a playoff spot, battling hard in every game to get there, working hard to climb up the standings, believing in coach Jack Capuano and the system he has put in place. They're beating the best teams in the NHL with that work ethic, and they get close to the playoff spot. But with a hot team in Ottawa coming into their building, they lay an egg in a 6-0 loss.
That is just so frustrating. You'd think it wouldn't happen when they can see the playoff line, so like I said before -- I wonder if the Islanders even want to make the playoffs? I wonder if they're so young that they don't have that mentality.
That's not a knock against their team; it's a knock against their age and maturity.
Their best player, John Tavares, is having a good season, but he's not bringing the team over the hump to get them more consistent. They have other good players in Matt Moulson, P.A. Parenteau, Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit, but they can't seem to grasp the mentality of how to slam the door.
Who is going to teach them that? Well, I believe having Doug Weight behind the bench is one of the best things the Islanders can have. That guy is a winner and can be a really good mentor to the young guys, but Dougie is such a nice guy. He needs to have some tough love with these players.
These guys work hard, but they're finding ways to lose when they're in critical situations. It frustrates me and I'm sure it frustrates Islanders fans everywhere. It's about time this young team matures and doesn't accept getting blown out 6-0 when they're in arm's reach of a playoff spot.
I sure hope Capuano and Weight put their foot down and expect more out of their players. I sure hope they can get back into the playoffs sometime soon.
Islanders fans have endured enough already.