SAN JOSE Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau hasnt had all that much time to get a feel for his teams rivalries, but hes already sensing the lack of California Love.
What Ive noticed is theres a great rivalry of California teams. I dont think anybody likes anybody in California other than their hometown. Thats the way it should be, Boudreau said on Monday morning at HP Pavilion, as his team gets set to face the Sharks.
Since taking over Anaheim 49 games ago on December 1, Boudreaus Ducks are a respectable 23-19-7. They won't make the playoffs, though, despite a brilliant run of 17-3-4 from early January through late February.
The statistics tell much of the story, as Anaheim is scoring 2.53 goals per game under Boudreau, as opposed to the 2.21 it had through the first 24 games under Randy Carlyle. Goals against have impressively dropped to 2.48 under Boudreau from 3.04 under Carlyle, now the head coach in Toronto.
Along with Boudreau, who was fired by Washington just two days before taking over Anaheim, credit has to go to goaltender Jonas Hiller too. A consistent thorn in the Sharks side, Hiller has started 32 straight games and may get his 33rd against San Jose on Monday night.
Hiller has only won three of his last 11 starts (3-7-1), but has a 2.33 goals-against average and .918 save percentage over that span. Hes received just 20 goals of support from his offense.
Its something special. The way hes played and what hes had to do to keep us in games, I think is special, Boudreau said.
He also expects a tough game from the Sharks, who will try and win for just the second time in five tries against Anaheim this year.
Theyre in a desperate situation. The challenge is survival, and getting through. We know weve got a huge battle on our hands and thats the challenge.