So far so good for the Anaheim Ducks in the post-Randy Carlyle era. He was fired earlier this week with GM Bob Murray taking over as interim head coach. The Ducks are now 1-0 under Murray after going 2-15-4 in the final games of Carlyle’s tenure. In Murray’s first game behind the bench Anaheim got a first period goal from Jakob Silfverberg and a 35 save shutout from Kevin Boyle in his first NHL start as they beat the Vancouver Canucks 1-0.
Things are looking up now, though it is admittedly almost by default. It really couldn’t get any worse. When Silfverberg scored at 6:30 of the first period it was the first time that Anaheim had led in a game since January 23. Boyle’s performance was also a boost for the team–ironically, John Gibson also recorded a shutout in his first NHL start. Gibson was placed on injured reserve due to a variety of injuries and this paved the way for Boyle to make his first start. The undrafted rookie didn’t have an easy time of it and made some very nice saves. Most importantly, the Ducks played with some passion and intensity and that can get you far in the NHL.
After the game, the theme was about getting a ‘fresh start’ and a new positive attitude. Silfverberg suggested it was a win they could build from:
“If you look at it, it wasn’t a clean game from us. We can always improve, but at the same time we’ll take a win however it looks right now. Hopefully this will get a huge load off our back and we can start building off this.”
GM turned head coach Murray admitted that he was somewhat uncomfortable leaving ‘upstairs’ but also mentioned the positive vibe of the team:
“I always told you it’s very easy upstairs, but it was good. I enjoyed being around the guys and, again, tonight everything was positive so it was easier.”
As strange as it sounds, the Ducks now have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs if they can maintain this positive momentum. Even with their miserable six week losing run they’re just six points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Betting lines are a ‘trailing indicator’ of a turnaround and with the Ducks downright unbettable for more than a month the prices are strongly shaded to generate Anaheim action. It’s important to put the price on this game in a bit of context. The Ducks hosted the red hot St. Louis Blues on January 23 as a +115 underdog. They’re a +175 dog tonight against Boston.
The Bruins have been playing solid hockey winning five of six but haven’t really had a tough road game in over a month. They haven’t played back to back games on the road since they faced Florida and Tampa Bay in early December. Those games also represent the last time the Bruins played more than 500 miles from home. It’s about to get a lot tougher for Boston starting with this road trip–after tonight’s game against the Ducks they’ll play Los Angeles, San Jose, Vegas and St. Louis. It’ll be good preparation for the stretch run–Boston plays 10 of their final 14 regular season games away from home.
The Ducks have a credible home record (11-8-8) despite their struggles while the Bruins’ 11-10-5 road record translates to a -6.1 unit loss. Boston will play this game without top goal scorer David Pastrnak who is out indefinitely with a thumb injury. Anaheim should have considerable confidence against Boston–the Ducks have won 4 of the last 5 meetings with the Bruins head to head including the last two at the Honda Center. Can’t pass up the value on the home team and hopefully we’ll be getting in on the ground floor of a turnaround.