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ROSE PALMISANO, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg (40) celebrates his first-period goal with teammates during Game 7 of the Western Conference Quaterfinals at the Honda Center on Sunday.
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More Boudreau playoff woes

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

ANAHEIM – Players develop a reputation in the Stanley Cup playoffs depending upon how they perform when the games matter the most. And they aren't the only ones.

Coaches also make their names in the postseason. Fair or not, deserved or not, their stature can be heightened or lowered by how their teams do with regard to winning titles and competing for them.

Mike Babcock first wrote his book with the Ducks in their magical 2003 Cup run and then hoisted the silver chalice in 2008 with Detroit. Babcock's 2009 team was one game from repeating and he has also won Olympic gold with Team Canada in 2010.

The Red Wings haven't made it out of the second round since, but Babcock is considered one of the NHL's preeminent coaches. His counterpart in the Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Ducks has a nice portfolio that's notably lacking in one area.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is known for his upbeat personality and chatty nature. His teams in four-plus season with Washington were noted for their regular-season success — and for their playoff failure.

Could that be in the process of being repeated in Anaheim? The Ducks had the third-best record in the NHL during this shortened 48-game regular season but were saddled with a must-win Game 7 Sunday night in order to advance — and failed in a 3-2 loss.

It is Boudreau's first playoff go-around with the Ducks so there are more chapters to write. His Capitals teams lost three of four Game 7s they appeared in.

Did Boudreau need to win one to help his reputation?

"I haven't thought about it that way," Saku Koivu said before the game. "Obviously coaches or the players, you're being measured in tough situations, the key situations. And obviously Game 7 is one of those things that if you lose, I don't know, four Game 7s in a row, that's the thing that people are going to start questioning.

"I didn't know the history really about him being in Washington when you're really thinking about that. But I'm sure that he's very eager to get this one and get in the second round."

Ducks center David Steckel played for Boudreau during his Washington run. Steckel wouldn't tackle that subject for a coach who has been in his corner.

"My opinion is not going to matter on that," Steckel said. "I know he wants to win as bad as the next guy and every guy in this room. As far as that other stuff goes, that's not for me to judge."

Babcock acknowledged that playoff success does make the man. His teams have gone 72-48 in the postseason.

"I've been fortunate enough to have lots of playoff wins," the former Ducks boss said. "What am I going to tell you? That's a tough question for me. The last Game 7 for me was at the Olympic Games. It was our seventh game. We won.

"The previous one to that, I think was and I could be wrong, was in Phoenix. But I've lost a big Game 7 in Detroit against Pittsburgh when we could have won back-to-back Cups. Lost Game 7 in New Jersey in '03."

LOW MARKS

The Ducks ranked 25th in the NHL for attendance during the regular season as they averaged 15,884 over their 24 home dates. Only Colorado, Winnipeg, Columbus, Phoenix and the New York Islanders averaged fewer.

The club averaged 92.5percent of their 17,174-seat capacity at Honda Center, which is one of the NHL's smaller arenas. The Ducks announced 10 sellouts during the season and had overflow crowds for each of their four playoff home games.

NO RETURN

Defenseman Toni Lydman never returned to the series after being drilled by the Red Wings' Justin Abdelkader in Game 3. Lydman was sidelined with migraines, while Abdelkader returned for Game 6 after a two-game suspension.

Contact the writer: estephens@ocregister.com


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