Bruce Boudreau jumps into first NHL Conference Final

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Bruce Boudreau jumps into first NHL Conference Final
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ANAHEIM, Calif. – Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau pulled a Van Halen in overtime of Anaheim’s 3-2 Game 5 second-round series clinching win over the Calgary Flames. His feet somehow caught air, after defenseman Francois Beauchemin sailed a shot wide of the net. 

“I jumped a solid four inches and said, 'Well maybe I’m not so calm,' I better settle down here,” Boudreau said.

Go ahead, JUMP!

Whether he could make it past the second-round has been a long-standing question with Boudreau. He could never do it with some of his most powerful Washington Capitals teams from 2007-08 through 2011-12 before he got fired. He hadn’t done it in Anaheim from his time here that started in 2011-12 … until now.

“It’s a relief that I won’t get asked that question,” Boudreau said in his postgame news conference. “I’m sure it’ll be, ‘Well you’ve never been to a Cup Final’ but for tonight I’m really happy that question won’t be asked too often anymore.”

Really it was only a matter of time before it happened. Boudreau is too good a coach, but for a while, Boudreau was Captain Ahab. The Conference Final was his cup of Haagen Dazs, if he was on a diet. So close, but just couldn’t eat it. 

I hope that clip lives on forever. 

Boudreau has a 363-167-69 regular season record between the Caps and Ducks. That’s clearly really good. But his lack of playoff success, where he is now 35-31, seemed like a failure.

After Anaheim defeated the Flames 6-1 in Game 1, it became obvious if Boudreau didn’t make it past Calgary, this could possibly be his greatest flop. Maybe even more than his 121 point team in Washington from 2009-10 that lost to Montreal in the first-round of the playoffs. That Canadiens team had a hot goalie. This Flames team was not better than Anaheim (109 points this year and had the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed) at all. 

This group has arguably the best 1-2 center punch in the playoffs with Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler. Frederik Andersen has proved a capable goaltender. With this team there’s no difference between its top defensive pair and its third grouping.

And interestingly, some players wanted this win for him. Both Matt Beleskey and Kyle Palmieri chuckled when asked about Boudreau finally making the Conference Final.

“I think he enjoyed (the win) the most out of everybody,” Palmieri said. “I didn’t see his celebration on the bench, but it’s going to be tough to get that smile off his face the next couple of days."

This is because he’s a smart coach systems-wise, but he lets his players play. Some teams need a coach that creates a lot of structure. When they hired Boudreau, the Ducks needed someone who could help them enjoy hockey again after the iron fisted Randy Carlyle regime, one that did yield a Stanley Cup. 

“We work hard for him, that’s what it’s all about,” Ducks forward Patrick Maroon said. “He’s not worried about if you make a mistake. He can trust a guy. If he makes a mistake he can put him back out there.” 

Coaches like these, who command the respect of their players provided they’re not aging superstars, tend to go far. We know Boudreau has upped his prior limit. Now can he go further?

Just give the man some ice cream and let him enjoy this for at least a day. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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