Boudreau brings Wild to face former team in Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks made a bold move when they fired coach Bruce Boudreau at the end of last season and replaced him with Randy Carlyle, whom Boudreau had replaced 4 1/2 year earlier.

Boudreau was quickly scooped up by the Minnesota Wild and Sunday evening he'll get his first chance to face his former team when they meet at Honda Center.

Boudreau has shown why he was such in demand following his dismissal from the Ducks, taking a Wild team that managed to get into the playoffs in each of the last four seasons -- but won just one series in that span -- and making it one of the best in the NHL through the first half of this season.

"When I first got the (Minnesota) job and the schedule came out, (Anaheim) was the first game I looked at," Boudreau told "I think that's pretty natural, whether it's a player getting traded or a coach going to a different team."

Still, he said he'll be nervous facing his former team, one that he took to the postseason in each of his four full seasons in Anaheim, but couldn't forge a path to the Stanley Cup Finals.

"When you get let go, you don't know behind the scenes if they liked you, or really liked you, or hated you, or what the thing was," Boudreau told "You don't know what the reaction was going to be."

Minnesota came into Saturday's game at the Los Angeles Kings having won 13 of its last 14 games and ranked No. 1 in the Western Conference in goals for (3.16) and goals against (2.11). The Wild surrendered an early 2-0 lead before losing in overtime 4-3, ending a seven-game road winning streak.

Boudreau opted to start backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper against the Kings and save Devan Dubnyk, who has a league-best 1.82 goals-against average.

The Wild also entered the weekend with five players ranked in the top nine in the league in plus-minus. They are Ryan Suter (25), Jason Zucker (23), Jared Spurgeon (23) and Mikko Koivu (20) and Mikael Granlund (19), although Suter and Spurgeon finished minus-2 against the Kings.

The Ducks haven't faced a drop off under Carlyle, who led them to their only Stanley Cup title in 2007. Anaheim has won three straight to take over first place in the Pacific Division and is receiving solid contributions from young players and veterans alike.

In their 3-2 overtime win Friday against the visiting Arizona Coyotes, the three players who scored for the Ducks, Joseph Cramarossa, Chris Wagner and Ondrej Kase, had played a combined 71 NHL games before the night.

They've helped cover for veterans such as Corey Perry (goalless in his last 11 games) and Ryan Getzlaf, who is out the last two games with a lower body injury.

The shutdown line of Ryan Kesler, Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg have also played well above expectations on both ends of the ice.

The Wild are 2-1-1 in the second game of back-to-backs but this is a mild one, considering they played Saturday afternoon and just 30 miles up the freeway in L.A.
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