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New set of challenges face Boudreau in Anaheim

by Mike G. Morreale /
That didn't take long.
A little less than 72 hours after being released from his duties in Washington, Bruce Boudreau resurfaced as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night when general manager Bob Murray fired Randy Carlyle with the team 14th in the Western Conference despite a 4-1 win over the Canadiens.
So now that Boudreau becomes the fastest coach in League history to go from fired to hired, the big question is can he turn around a team that has been entrenched in a six-week free-fall. After opening the season 4-1-0, the Ducks have suffered several bad stretches, including losing streaks of six and seven games.
While many would agree that the 56-year-old Boudeau has a proven track record in the regular season, the 2008 Jack Adams Award winner has suffered miserably in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Boudreau sported an impressive 201-88-40 regular-season record in four-plus seasons with the Caps, but was never able to guide the club past the second round of the playoffs.


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That's something both Boudreau and Murray are hoping will change in Anaheim.
Here are six challenges Boudreau will face as he embarks on his second head-coaching job in the NHL:
1. Re-energize captain Getzlaf: Despite the fact Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf snapped a 14-game goal-scoring drought on Wednesday and is now riding a season-high seven-game point-scoring streak, he still could be better. Maybe a new coach with a new outlook is just the tonic he needs to begin putting pucks in the net with even greater regularity. Getzlaf, 26, has just 5 goals and sports a minus-11 rating in 24 games this season -- he has never finished with a minus-rating in six previous seasons. It will be interesting to watch the relationship Boudreau and Getzlaf form from the outset. After all, Boudreau did bench Alexander Ovechkin in the last minute with his team down a goal in a game in early November -- against the Ducks, no less.
2. Giving Ryan hope: It might be in the best interest of 24-year-old Bobby Ryan if Boudreau sat down with his winger and explained how important a piece he is to Anaheim's puzzle. While the rumors have been running rampant about Ryan being moved for players and/or draft picks, that hasn't happened. Ryan has no doubt underperformed this season on the team's top line alongside Getzlaf and Corey Perry. In three full seasons in Anaheim, the No. 2 pick in 2005 has never scored fewer than 31 goals. He has 7 in 24 matches this year.
3. Identify secondary scoring: Other than Teemu Selanne (8 goals), Perry (11 goals) and Ryan (7 goals), there hasn't been much to write home about with regards to scoring. Perry is the only double-digit goal-scorer on the team and all but two players (Andrew Cogliano and Sheldon Brookbank) with at least 20 games under their belt sports a minus-rating. 
4. Create some home cooking: It would be nice if Boudreau could re-establish some home ice advantage within the Honda Center. The Ducks have won five of 13 games in front of their fans and that needs to change in order to generate even greater fervor both on the ice and in the locker room. Boudreau had success at Verizon Center in Washington before being cut loose this season, going 8-2-1.
5. Fix the defense: Boudreau takes over a unit that has yielded 3.08 goals per game, which stands 22nd in the League. While the broken finger suffered by Lubomir Visnovsky on Nov. 11 didn't help, the team needs to buckle down in front of goalie Jonas Hiller (3.11 GAA, .900 save percentage), who has been rather inconsistent this season. The need to stiffen the blue line then becomes of even greater importance. Boudreau actually did a nice job last season with the Capitals, having his well-oiled offensive machine also pay strict attention to details on defense -- the Caps finished with the fourth-lowest goals-against average (2.33). There's no reason to believe he couldn't get the Ducks' offense and defense on the same page just prior to Visnovsky's supposed return the middle of this month.
6. Greater effort: It isn't that Randy Carlyle didn't get the most out of his players, but perhaps it just wasn't on a consistent basis. The challenge for Boudreau will be to have his players play hard every night. There's no doubt a new face behind the bench will energize the players from the outset, but Boudreau will need to maintain that same type of attitude on a regular basis. It needs to be stressed that teams will not win on talent alone, and Boudreau has experienced that fact first-hand.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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