Today, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher was at work, feverishly preparing for tonight’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins. He took a little time out to talk with the media about the growth of his team, disclosing injuries, the Bruins physical play, Pavel Kubina’s injury and how he prepares a game plan.
Boucher commented on the growth of the team during the post-season:
“Well, I think every game we’ve learned a lot from ourselves. We’ve also learned from the other team. Learned about the situation, the circumstances. We talked about it in the last days. Some individuals have learned faster than others. But I think all around we’ve got a group of players who don’t get too excited now and stay calm. That’s probably what we’ve been able to change from the first games of the Playoffs, where we said we looked like deer in headlights, and we were expecting that. But you never know when you’re going to learn. We needed to learn fast and we’ve learned. But it’s a whole new series in this one. New team, new atmosphere. So we have to adapt to this one.”
The Lightning coach said that there’s no advantage or disadvantage to not disclosing injuries:
“I don’t know. Every time we play, we’re planning for the other team to have their best players on the ice. So we’re never surprised or disappointed. So I’m sure the other teams are the same. When we can say they’re not playing, we’ll say it. When it’s day to day, sometimes it’s minute to minute, and you’ll know it just after the warm-up. And we don’t want to state the extent of the injuries, for obvious reasons. But it’s pretty clear with Gagne and Kubina, we told everybody they weren’t playing the day before because we knew they weren’t going to be playing. And after that we weren’t sure about Gagne. But then it became obvious. So I think it’s a case-by-case, really, because there’s a matter of who is the guy injured and when did he get injured, what type of injury he has, and how far away are we from the game. So I think it’s case-by-case.”
Boucher touched on the concept of the Bruins being more physical in tonight’s game:
“We were expecting for the entire series to be a very physical series. They play physical. They’ve got some big guys, and they finish their checks. So we’re expecting it to be present in every game. So they’re going to be better all around. And we have to be better all around. And so if they’re going to be more physical, it’s just going to look like what we’re expecting.”
The update on injured defenseman Pavel Kubina was not good:
“He’s not with us. He’s not even here, so the update is not very good. Every day when there seems to be a little progression, it kind of slips back a bit. So it’s kind of an injury that you never know. You wake up the next day and everything’s great or just keeps on going the same way so it’s very hard to monitor what’s going on with him. But obviously we’re missing him. He’s got size. He’s got some offensive abilities on our second power play; he made a big difference on it. But right now we’ve adapted. Bergeron’s kind of taken the lead on that power play with Purcell. And we had to adapt because he was doing very well for us.”.
Coach Boucher shared how he develops a game plan and who helps in creating the strategy:
“I bounce everything off of Steve (GM Yzerman).We bounce everything with the staff and not just Steve. Pat Verbeek, (Dir. Of Scouting) Tom Kurvers (Asst. GM), anybody that’s around the team, we try to get information from. And I think what’s good about our group is that it’s not about who is going to be right; it’s just trying to get it right. And there’s a big difference between those two approaches. And I think we’ve got a great group of people that can rely on each other, because we’ve got all kinds of different experiences. And we do try to learn from each other. And we’ve done that all year long. So there’s no difference in the Playoffs. I think there’s a mutual respect amongst all of us. We’re all there because we bring something to the table. It’s important that we tap into each other’s experience, absolutely.”
Game 2 is tonight at 8:00 pm in Boston.
About the Author: WB Philp is a published hockey writer who has a built in disdain for Barry Melrose. He covered the Detroit sports teams for many years until he came to his senses and moved to the Sunshine State. He is a true puckhead on a mission from God (Gordie Howe) to make hockey relevant in the south. He lives in Hockey Bay USA and covers the Lightning full time. Did I mention he hates Barry Melrose?