ANAHEIM, Calif. — It’s difficult to conceive that this Game 7 loss by the Anaheim Ducks may have hurt worse than the three others that came before it.
Walking into the locker room, the feeling was different after the previous year’s Game 7 loss in the Western Conference Final. One could feel the anger radiating from the team.
This year, it was different. The looks on the players faces was of shock. It felt like a funeral.
Corey Perry sat in the back of his room in full gear while his teammates had left to change out of their pads. His stare was vacant. His voice was barely audible as he addressed reporters. Could this loss be more painful than the previous three?
“Probably,” said Perry. “It hurts. A lot of guys in here that were playing hard for us. Too bad we couldn’t get it done.”
Perry, who led the Ducks in goal scoring during the regular season, could not find the back of the net to save his life. He ended the series against Nashville with only four assists and a minus-7.
“We could have used him, but I know one thing – he left it all out there today,” said coach Bruce Boudreau of his star forward. “He tried his a– off. I mean, it’s not easy to score goals. We would have loved one in the third. He had five or six really good chances, but he was snakebit the whole series. It was tough, but it wasn’t for lack of his effort tonight.”
Andrew Cogliano was in disbelief.
“I thought we dominated them, to be honest,” said Cogliano. “… I didn’t think they had any really good looks, and we hit a couple posts; we had some power plays. This was probably one of the best games of the series.
“It wasn’t meant to be. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t explain it. We can’t get a bounce to start of these games, and they end up killing us.”
Cam Fowler offered an honest appraisal of the team’s reputation for losing Game 7s on home ice.
“It’s certainly not fun, and it’s not the title you want to have in this league,” said Fowler. “I’m trying not to look at it big picture so much … We were focused on this year with a great group of guys. I just feel for them right now.”
As for those guys, Ryan Kesler, arguably the Ducks best player in the second half of the season and the playoffs, gave his perspective on possible change in the locker room.
“We’ve got a good group in here,” said Kesler. “Every year there is changes. It’s my job to play hockey. Obviously, there will be changes; there always is. It’s tough to see teammates go.”
None of the players went out of their way to address the biggest elephant in the room – that of the status of Boudreau. It felt like a foregone conclusion that this loss is likely the one that will send the coach packing.
In his postgame press conference, Boudreau didn’t care to speculate about his future.
“I have no idea. I haven’t thought about it as far as my future,” said Boudreau. “I just come to work every day until I’m told not to come to work.”
Ducks are expected to have their exit meetings in the next day or two. By then we should know the fate of Boudreau; unless Bob Murray prolongs the decision as he did following the Western Conference Final loss in 2015.
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