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Boudreau, Ducks hope to learn from playoff failures

by Curtis Zupke /

ANAHEIM -- It has been the stumbling block for Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks the past two seasons, and it is in place again for these Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Anaheim is the higher-seeded team facing a challenge in the Western Conference Second Round series that starts Thursday against the Calgary Flames at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN).

This hasn't gone well for the Ducks, who were eliminated by the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings last season and by the Detroit Red Wings in 2013. Each came in Game 7. Each was at the hands of a lower-seeded team.

Is there something to be said about learning from losing?

"Well, I've learned a lot," Boudreau said with a laugh.

Boudreau is self-deprecating about his personal playoff history, having never taken a team past the second round and his 1-5 record in Game 7s. Perhaps the cliché that a team has to lose first in order to win will ring true this season.

"I think you learn something from every playoff series and you take that with you to the next one, and the next year," Boudreau said. "There is definitely something to be said about that, and you do learn. If you can't learn from losing, you learn from your mistakes. Hopefully, then, you don't make those same mistakes."

It's difficult for Boudreau to measure the vibe from the Ducks this time because he said it's different every season. They are almost a year removed from the series loss to the Kings and have had to answer questions about it since then. It has resonated from the main players left over from Anaheim's 2007 Cup-winning team -- Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin -- to the younger ones.

"You look around the room, there's a lot of guys that, in the last two years, that have been just coming into the League and getting their feet wet," Perry said. "I think they see how hard it is to win in the playoffs, and hopefully everybody's used that to their advantage and don't want to have that feeling.

"Yeah, we've had that block where we can't get past the second round, but I think we've got a lot of guys in here, veteran guys and young guys, that don't want to [let that happen again]."

The 2007 Ducks also represent the last time Anaheim advanced past the second round. It speaks to how difficult it has become to win in a balanced NHL, and Getzlaf and Perry have received another education about what it takes to get back to the Western Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final.

"You go through things," Getzlaf said. "You have to learn those. Unfortunately, the only way to learn them is to go through them. We've been on the losing end a couple of times, and you learn a lot from those on what it takes to get past that round and get past those opponents. Hopefully we'll continue to use that this year."

This series is a built-in storyline concerning Boudreau, who will either finally break through or be denied again. The former seems logical given how well Anaheim played the Winnipeg Jets in a first-round sweep. The latter is realistic given how good an underdog story Calgary has become.

Forward Andrew Cogliano, a well-spoken voice of the Ducks, said he doesn't get a heavy sense of how much Boudreau wants to get past the second round.

"But I think it's well documented that Bruce obviously wants to get to that next level and not deal with whatever people say and write," Cogliano said. "But … he's not the one playing. He's the coach, and the coach is obviously very important to the team's success, but it's the players on the ice playing. So it's on the guys to execute and play and go out there and do their job.

"I think we had that last year in parts of the playoffs, but … when you lose 6-2 in Game 7, the players didn't play good."

Boudreau said he doesn't care much for what outsiders make about his postseason history. He recognizes it in joking and serious tones, and it probably helps that he's not in a hockey-crazy sports landscape such as Canada.

"I want to get to the next level because I always want to win," Boudreau said. "I'm not concerned with people saying 'He can't do this. He can't do that.' It's not me that's playing the game. We're giving them the tools to go out there and do it. I don't want to take the credit when we win. Players deserve the credit when they win. It would be nice, just because you'd like to get to the final four. That sounds pretty cool.

"And we've always dreamed about winning the Stanley Cup. But I don't dwell on a legacy of saying 'Here's Bruce Boudreau, that hasn't done this and hasn't done that.' I'm not really concerned about that. I do the best, I think, of my abilities, and hopefully it's good enough."

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