Freeway Series: Ontario Reign take on San Diego Gulls in the American Hockey League playoffs

The Ontario Reign eliminated the San Jose Barracuda on Friday in the first round of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs. The San Diego Gulls knocked out the Texas Stars in their first-round series Friday. So, the Kings’ AHL affiliate will face the Ducks’ team in a Freeway Series matching beginning next Thursday.

Here’s the schedule, which is a little different from what we’re used to in the NHL:

Game 1: Gulls at Reign, 7 p.m, May 5, Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Game 2: Reign at Gulls, 7:05 p.m., May 7, Valley View Casino Center.

Game 3: Gulls at Reign, 7 p.m., May 8, Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Game 4: Reign at Gulls, 7:05 p.m., May 13, Valley View Casino Center.

Game 5 (if necessary): Gulls at Reign, 7 p.m., May 14, Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Game 6 (if necessary): Reign at Gulls, 7:05 p.m., May 16, Valley View Casino Center.

Game 7 (if necessary): Gulls at Reign, 7 p.m., May 18, Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Ducks exit interviews: Andrew Cogliano

Ducks left wing Andrew Cogliano on Saturday addressed the notion that the team’s core players, himself included, were more to blame for another Game 7 defeat than coach Bruce Boudreau. He spoke at length about that subject. Here’s some of what he said during his season-ending interview with reporters:

“Questions about the core are fair. We haven’t gotten the job done. We’ve made some good strides during the year. We showed character in coming back. There’s positives. But we haven’t done the job at the right time and rhythm when it really counts. I think…I’m not sure what the factors are. Bob (Murray, the Ducks’ GM) is right. This isn’t on Bruce. I think a lot of guys need to know where they’re at and figure out where we went wrong. A lot of them have been here for a while. I’m not just talking the captains.. Myself, Cam (Fowler), guys like Hampus (Lindholm) and Sami (Vatanen) aren’t young anymore..Not singling them out, but we’ve been here for a while now. We don’t have a lot of young guys in the lineup. Like i said, guys have to figure out where we’re gone wrong. Today’s a much different feeling leaving the rink. In those years there’s been a sense of hope. Today there’s zero feeling like that.”

Cogliano also spoke about not doing enough individually this season, but especially during the playoffs. Here’s more:

“My meeting with ‘Murph’ (Murray) won’t go the same as it has. I wasn’t good enough, simple as that. Everyone can say the same thing. I had good moments but ultimately I  didn’t do enough. Everyone wants to talk about that we have ‘Getz’ (Ryan Getzlaf) and ‘Pears’ (Corey Perry), but we have guys who have been here and need to play better. Guys could have stepped up more. They’re not the captains of the team. I’ve played over 700 games, Cam’s been in the league since 18. Hampus, Sami, ‘Raks’ (Rickard Rakell) … we’ve learned the hard way but it’s not acceptable, simple as that, and we let a real good opportunity get away from us. I don’t know why. Maybe we came into the playoffs thinking we were better than we thought. That wasn’t the case.”

Ducks exit interviews: Frederik Andersen

Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen needs a new contract for next season. He can become a restricted free agent July 1. Here’s some of what he had to say Saturday about free agency and remaining with the Ducks:

“Tough to say right now. I think when the time comes some decisions will be made. I like playing here and all the guys love having me in the net. I like it here, so obviously I would love to play (here). It’s their decision to make, but I think I definitely proved that I can be a No. 1 goalie, especially in the playoffs to do well. Last year, I took the team deep. It didn’t pan out this year, but I feel like I personally did my part in trying … obviously, you’ve got to be better … but to get to a Game 7. It’s decided by a single goal or two goals early like that. Other than that, I played well. I liked my preparations before that. Sometimes it doesn’t work out.”

Andersen also cleared up the specifics of the injury that sidelined him for the last few weeks of the regular season, before he returned to shut out the Washington Capitals in the finale, helping the Ducks clinch their fourth straight Pacific Division title.

“I took a shot two days before (the Calgary game) in the jaw and it kind of locked up on me, some muscles around that area and messed with my eyes and made me feel dizzy,” he explained. “It took a couple of days to figure out, but after that I got the right treatment on my jaw and started working with my eye doctor to get back and make sure my eye movements were doing the right things. It was in practice. It was a tipped shot and kind of came from the side and locked up some muscles.”


Ducks exit interviews: Rickard Rakell

Ducks center Rickard Rakell said Saturday he never regained his fitness after undergoing an appendectomy near the end of the regular season. He said he wasn’t himself for the Ducks’ first-round playoff loss to the Nashville Predators. Here’s more of his conversation with reporters:

“I don’t want to used it as an excuse, but I didn’t feel the same as before it happened. I tried to do everything I can to come back as good as I can. Obviously, I wish I could have helped the team a little bit more. … I got tired quicker and just battling with other players, I felt like I was stronger and could have protected the puck better (before the surgery). … There was a lot of pain in the end. The first few days, I still had holes in my stomach and it was hurting a little bit, but it was manageable and nothing I really tried to think about during the games.”


Ducks exit interviews: Ryan Kesler

Ducks center Ryan Kesler talked Saturday about the firing of Bruce Boudreau as coach and why it happened and what responsibility the players played in his dismissal after a first-round playoff exit. Here’s more from Kesler on Boudreau:

“He’s a good man. He was a good coach, obviously. I think losing that Game 7 was, you know, the nail in the coffin. It’s obviously tough to see your coach fired. I think the onus goes on us. Yeah. It’s still too early to look back for me, just the whole way this season’s gone. It was a tough year. It was a tough year for everyone I think. The way we started to the way we start the playoffs, it just for whatever reason it didn’t come together like we hoped.”

Kesler also spoke about being named a finalist for the Selke Trophy, as the NHL’s top defensive forward. Here’s more:

“It’s nice to get recognized. It’s a tribute to Bruce and him trusting me in those situations and throwing me out against the other team’s top line from Christmas on and giving me that challenge. He trusted me and I relished that. Obviously, it wasn’t just me out there, it was playing with ‘Silfver’ (Jakob Silfverberg) and ‘Cogs’ (Andrew Cogliano), those great linemates I had when you’ve got to shut down the other team’s top line. They were really defensively responsible. On the other side of the puck, they’re not too shabby as well.”

Ducks exit interviews: Ryan Getzlaf

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf spoke to reporters for about 15 minutes Saturday during his season-ending interview. He talked about injuries, about the team’s turnaround after a 1-7-2 start to the season, about their Game 7 loss to the Nashville Predators and, of course, about the firing of Bruce Boudreau as coach. Here’s some of what he had to say:

On the team’s poor start: “It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly happened. I haven’t really been through such a turnaround like that during a season. I’ve been through a couple tough years now. Other than that, I haven’t been through anything that dramatic of a turn. The consistency is a matter of being together as a group every night and having a job to do and being excited to be there. I thought at times this year, we showed it. But at other times, we had trouble staying focused on what we needed to accomplish. And that, we’ll have to address as a group and with the group that we’re with next year.”

On shedding the reputation as a team that fails to win the big games: “That’s just it. The only way to erase them is to just do it. Whether we get the opportunity again to play in a Game 7, I will never know. Everyone calls it playoff trouble if you don’t win the Stanley Cup. There’s only one team at the end of the year that wins the Stanley Cup. There’s only been two teams that have done it basically in the last five years. Everybody else is basically in the exact same boat as us. Obviously, the Stanley Cup is our goal again. We want to get that Stanley Cup back here again, like we experienced as young players. In doing that, it is frustrating. It ticks me off. I’m a competitive person. I want to win, I want to be able to take this team to the next level and get the Stanley Cup again. I’ll work hard to try and do that again next year.”

On how much responsibility the Ducks players bear in the firing of Boudreau: “On how much do the players bear responsibility for firing: “Lots. I’ve only been part of one other coach getting fired and I felt the same way in that situation. Coaches can only do so much. They can only put so much on the ice. They have a responsibility like everybody else here. As do we. We have to absorb a lot of that, when you’re talking about going on the ice and playing and performing at the level that we should have been this year, throughout the whole year. Obviously, with the start we had, there’s always different reasons for different things. But at the end of the day, the players have to be able to perform and do what we need to do. And a lot of that falls on our shoulders and why he’s out the door.”





Ducks coaching search: Who is GM Bob Murray likely to hire to replace Bruce Boudreau?

Ducks general manager Bob Murray figures to take a good look at several candidates to replace Bruce Boudreau as the club’s next coach. Among them:

Paul MacLean and Trent Yawney, the Ducks’ assistant coaches who orchestrated the team’s NHL-leading power-play and penalty-killing units during the regular season.

Dallas Eakins, coach of the Ducks’ American Hockey League affiliate in San Diego whose stint with the Edmonton Oilers did not go well at all.

Travis Green, a former Ducks player who has been coaching the Utica Comets of the AHL and his said to be ready to take the next step.

Guy Boucher, a former Tampa Bay Lightning coach who was coaching in Switzerland until he was fired last fall.

Marc Crawford, a former Kings, Avalanche and Canucks coach who also was coaching in Switzerland until he was let go last month.

Ducks fire Bruce Boudreau as coach, search for replacement begins immediately


The Ducks fired coach Bruce Boudreau on Friday morning, two days after the team was eliminated in a Game 7 at the Honda Center for the fourth consecutive season. Boudreau was 208-104-40 during his tenure with the Ducks, guiding the team to four straight Pacific Division championships. They reached the Western Conference final last season, but were eliminated in seven games by the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The Ducks were knocked out in the first round of the 2016 playoffs Wednesday by the Nashville Predators.

“I would like to thank Bruce for his hard work and dedication to the franchise,” general manager Bob Murray said in a statement. “This is a very difficult decision to make. Bruce is a good coach and a character person, and we wish him the best of luck in the future.”

The Ducks will hold a news conference at 11:45 a.m.


Ontario Reign, San Diego Gulls on track for second-round collision in the AHL playoffs

The Kings and Ducks were eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, but there can still be a Freeway Series showdown this spring between their American Hockey League teams. The Kings’ affiliate, the Ontario Reign, and the Ducks club, the San Diego Gulls, are each one victory away from advancing to the Pacific Division final in the Calder Cup playoffs.

The Reign took a 2-1 lead in their best-of-5 series with a 3-1 victory Thursday over the San Jose Barracuda in Game 3. Adrian Kempe scored two goals for the Reign, who can eliminate the Barracuda with a victory in Game 4 on Friday in Ontario.

The Gulls defeated the Texas Stars 6-1 in Game 3 on Thursday to take a 2-1 lead in their series. Chris Wagner scored a goal and had two assists and Shea Theodore had three assists for the Gulls, who face Texas in Game 4 on Friday in San Diego.


Ducks stat of the day … or why it’s almost mandatory to score first in Game 7 against the Predators


This tidbit is lifted directly from my story Wednesday: The team that scores first in Game 7s has a staggering .741 winning percentage (120-42) in playoff history. The Ducks are 2-0 in Game 7s when scoring first and 0-5 when they don’t.

Here’s the link to my Game 7 advance: