Bruce Boudreau Conference Call Transcript--April 30, 2009
DAVID KEON: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm David Keon of the National Hockey League's public relations department and I'd like to welcome you to today's call. Our guest is Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau. Thanks to Bruce for taking the time to join us and answer your questions. The Capitals finished first in the Southeast Division this season with a record of 50-24-8 for 108 points, making them the No. 2 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. At Tuesday on the Verizon Center they defeated the New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals. The Eastern Conference semifinal opens Saturday with Game 1 at 1 p.m. eastern time when the Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins on NBC, CBC and RDS. Thanks again to Bruce for taking the time to join us and answer your questions. We'll open it up for questions.
Q. In the first series you made an interesting goaltending change. Can you talk about what went into that? Are you surprised how well your kid played? Do you have any apprehension against sending him against a high-powered Pittsburgh offense?
BRUCE BOUDREAU: Number one, I was surprised. I mean, I didn't really know. We'd only seen him play in six games, but we had a lot of faith in him. The reason we did it is we didn't want -- it was quite simply we thought we can always come back to Theodore. He's played very good if he's had a bad outing or not. If we waited till Game 3, if Theodore had had a bad outing in Game 2, it would have been too much pressure for him to start in New York down 2-0. We thought, we'll see him in Game 2, then we can make a decision after that. So even though we lost Game 2 1-0, he played really well. We had a lot of faith in him at that point.
Q. In Game 7, Sergei Fedorov played a big role for you. What has his role been not just this season but last year when you acquired him at the trade deadline?
BRUCE BOUDREAU: Well, there's not a situation that he hasn't been in. The calming effect he has on everybody, especially the other Russian guys we have, he is the guy they look up to. He's the guy, when they were growing up, was their hero. You know, he's still got the smarts and the savvy to play the game. If you think back, we played two Game 7s in the last two years, and Sergei scored a goal in both of them. He definitely has big-time capabilities. Good on faceoffs and in any situation we put him.
Q. Is Varlamov one of those goalies, he's so new, the pressure won't bother him? How is his style kind of different from Theodore's?
BRUCE BOUDREAU: Well, the first, I don't know, he's so quiet, I don't know if it's affecting him. I'm sure, like any one of us, he's got a good poker face, but his stomach is churning. I can only imagine if I was there. But he seems very calm. Quite frankly, I haven't talked to him. I just let our goalie coach talk to him and make sure he's okay. The style isn't that much different from Theodore's, except he's a little bigger. That's probably the biggest thing, he's just a bigger goalie than Theodore and he takes up more room.
Q. Do you anticipate any changes to your power-play or your penalty-killing units coming in against Pittsburgh, anything special that you think you need to do, or will you pretty much stay the course?
BRUCE BOUDREAU: I think if we're making changes, I don't think I'm going to tell 'em, quite frankly. I mean, that's the one great thing about secrecy in the playoffs is you don't tell the other team what you're planning. But I will say we've used many, many different combinations this year that have been successful. I anticipate whatever combinations are out there that we will do the right thing and, again, be successful.
Q. Chris Clark has missed considerable time the last two seasons, was finally able to suit up for Game 7. Can you talk about his impact on the team both on the ice and in the locker room.
BRUCE BOUDREAU: Well, one thing, he's been completely positive being out of the lineup. He's played a handful of games in two years. He's really stayed involved with the team. I was, I wouldn't say surprised, but I was anticipatory not knowing what he was going to bring into the last game. But I thought he played a really good game. Nobody works as hard to get in shape as Chris. And for the first time in two years, he's been able to play pain-free. I think the guys as a whole were really pleased to see him out there, to see him back in the lineup. I thought it was really an important influx of energy for Game 7.
Q. There's been lots of back and forth between the superstars on each of these teams, Semin and Ovechkin, Crosby and Malkin. How do you want your guys to handle that? Do you dare tell them to tone it down? Keep going as it's going? How do you want that to play out?
BRUCE BOUDREAU: They don't go out of their way to talk. The media is hounding all four of them, I assume, at this point. I don't mean that in a negative way. There's just more of them. So any word that is said is going to be picked up and magnified. I watch my Alexes here, and there's no animosity or vindictiveness in anything they say. But anything they do say will be picked up and it will be, you know, made I don't know if it's front-page news, but a lot of top news in the series. And I don't want them to change the way they are. I mean, Alex is a fun-loving guy, says what is on his mind, doesn't seem to worry about it. But he's smart enough to know at this time that I don't think he's going to say anything silly.
Q. How much do you think your young guys grew as a team coming back to win the series with the Rangers?
BRUCE BOUDREAU: Well, I hope they grew. But I think, quite frankly, until you win a Stanley Cup, you never know. I mean, I think, you know, we're apprehensive a little bit about this. We know they're going to be a better opponent. I hope we're not satisfied. That's something we don't want to be. I mean, our goal was not to win the first round; our goal is to win all the rounds. We realize we're going to have to play a lot better than we did against the Rangers if we want to survive Pittsburgh.
Q. Mike Green, he didn't provide his usual offense in the first series. Was he just a little off or he didn't get off to a roaring start, he didn't get back to where he was pumping in the goals?
BRUCE BOUDREAU: You know what, I think we're all looking at it, okay, just looking at the numbers. We didn't play the New York Islanders; we played the New York Rangers, the best defensive team in the league with arguably one of the top three goaltenders in the league that play a very solid defensive system. They're the No. 1 penalty-killing unit in the league. So you don't expect guys to average a ton points a game. Mike had five points in seven games, played 26 minutes a night, and our team had the best seven-game stretch defensively that we'd had since I've been here. So to me he did everything right except score points. I mean, you look at our top scorer, eight points in seven games. I mean, I don't expect him to score every game, and sometimes he puts too much pressure on himself because that's what people expect. I mean, he was great. If Chris Pronger had done that, they would have lauded him as the MVP of the series.
Q. How tough is it to go against a two-prong attack with Crosby and Malkin, who are different kinds of players? One is a big guy, one is a small guy. BRUCE
BOUDREAU: I mean, it's definitely an issue. It's going to be a problem. I mean, whether they play together or whether they play on separate lines, they're two of the best players in the world. You know, we've watched a lot of tape on both of them, both individually and as a team. I don't think anybody's going to stop them cold, but maybe we can do a little something to detain them a little bit. That's our whole hope.
Q. Is it a lot like playing against Detroit with Datsyuk and Zetterberg; they can play on different lines but also they can play on the same line?
BRUCE BOUDREAU: Yeah, it's really difficult to look at matchups. Quite frankly, in those two buildings, I mean, you have your guys changing all the time because even Malkin and Crosby, I mean, they'll probably start together, then they'll take a shift with another line, then they come back. I mean, I don't know if matching up against them is better or worse for your team. It certainly makes it difficult on us.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about the importance of the supporting cast and the depth of the teams, since all the focus will be on the superstars in this series.
BRUCE BOUDREAU: I think both units have great supporting casts. It's one of the reasons that Pittsburgh made it to the finals last year, it was because of their supporting cast. Don't forget, they have a third-line center that was a second overall pick and plays in all situations, and when called upon can score 20 goals a year. I mean, their depth is really good. I think our guys are unheralded. But most of the guys, forwards seven through 12, have championship rings in the American League with me, and I know what they can do, and they know I have a lot of faith in them. I think in the end usually what happens is the superstars get covered and the role players end up being the unsung heroes.
Q. Game 5 was so loud in the building that both teams did not hear the end of the second-period buzzer, then at the end of Game 7 it was incredibly loud in the building. Do you have an adequate supply of dry markers or have you learned sign language? How do you overcome being able to communicate with the other players on the bench when it's so loud in the building?
BRUCE BOUDREAU: Well, the instruction part is pretty difficult other than screaming at them. But as far as line changes, you just hit them. Instead of saying, Ovechkin, you're up, you got to go over and tap him, make sure they're looking at you. And we have the other coaches repeating what I'm saying, because it is so hard to hear.
Q. Tom Poti had an excellent series against the Rangers. He doesn't get a lot of attention from the media. What is it about him that makes him so successful?
BRUCE BOUDREAU: Well, I think he's the one defenseman we have that's got experience. He's in his 30s. He's played in a lot of situations before. He's played in a lot of tough buildings. So, I mean, I think genuinely he's got the experience that none of our other guys have had and he's stepped up his game tremendously in the playoffs, as we knew he could. To me he's playing up to the potential I thought he would be playing at for the whole year.
Q. How is he in the locker room with the younger defensemen? BRUCE
BOUDREAU: You know, Tom is a really quiet guy. He's a really quiet guy. But I'm sure he has his way of talking to the young defensemen. But I'm not there, so I don't know what it is (laughter).
Q. You must have a certain appreciation for what Coach Bylsma has been able to do with Pittsburgh coming up from the minors. Can you talk about the difficulty, what it was like for you, what he's going through at this point? BRUCE
BOUDREAU: I mean, Danny has done a great job. He did a great job in Wilkes-Barre, as well. He's probably like me, still nervous and anxious. The only thing is he's been in the NHL longer than I have, when you count his playing days. He's probably got a pretty good handle on the whole situation. Plus being in Wilkes-Barre last year, he knew a lot of the players, this year as well. He knew Michel Therrien and his system, he knew where it had to change a little bit and all of those things. I mean, I think he's feeling quite secure and comfortable where he is right now.