Could you just describe your emotions — obviously your team laid it all out on the line in Game 7 — what you’re feeling right now?
COACH BOUCHER: “Obviously it’s difficult. It’s difficult because you know what your players put on the ice is every little ounce of energy is left that they have, so there’s a lot of respect that comes at the end of this.”
“It’s difficult because we were playing these playoffs forWayne Fleming. And we know he’s going through a hard battle right now. And we knew that every win that we got put a smile on his face. So that was really important to us. And it’s too bad we couldn’t put a smile on his face tonight. But we certainly recognize everything he’s done for this team and how close we felt as a family. And obviously he was a big part of it.”
“So I guess there’s losing but there’s a lot more than that for us. We had a year that was so full of adversity. You start the year and you have half the team that’s new, an entire staff that’s new, an administration that’s new. GM and president, CEO and owner, and so many new people coming together, and I just think it’s outstanding that the players and everybody else involved in the organization was able to get this team to be a team real fast. That’s really difficult, even with a team that you had the previous year. So I have a lot of respect for the people that are playing and the people that are around us and working it and making this organization what it has become this year.”
What chances do you think the Bruins have against Vancouver in the Finals?
COACH BOUCHER: “You know what, both teams that make it there, to me they’re on equal grounds. One thing’s for sure, they’re very well coached. I know Claude (Julien). I coached against him in Junior. He’s always done a very good job, and was always very happy for his success in the past. Obviously not tonight.”
“But he moves on, you know? You know, if there’s somebody that’s going to beat us, you know, there’s one guy that I hope he gets success. I think the team they put on the ice, the depth is just tremendous. When you look at the players that they put together and the goaltender — he’s up for the Vezina. He’s outstanding. We just couldn’t put one in. He was outstanding all year.”
“Got great defensemen. Four-line depth that can come at you, and nonstop. You’ve got guys who can put the puck in the net and defend. I mean, obviously they got it all. And they’ve been at this for a few years now, coming close and coming close and coming close. And I think that’s something we can take from. It’s been a long time that this team hasn’t been as far in the playoffs.”
“And we have to learn from this. We have to be proud of our players. They put everything on the ice, but at the same time I think it’s a moment to learn. And what the Bruins have done, it gives you hope for the future, definitely. You failed three times in a row, to make it happen now, and credit to them. Credit to them.”.
Now that the run is over, just how much hope has been instilled in this franchise and this fan base, for what you were able to accomplish in such a short period of time?
COACH BOUCHER: “Well, I think there’s hope at all levels in the organization. I think that’s what’s impressive. From the inside, I see what’s going on. And starting from Mr. Vinik and Mr. Yzerman and Mr. Tod Leiweke and everybody that it trickles down to, their attitude and their work ethic and everything they put into it and their experience, it’s trickled down to the players and the staff and myself.”
“And certainly we always want more. That was our motto all year long. The guys are so resilient. If people knew how banged up the guys are right now, it’s incredible. We’re talking about Kubina and Bergenheimnot playing, but there’s guys playing in there, their bodies are just barely hanging on there.”
“So from the inside, this was the end. I mean, there was nothing left. There was nothing left in the tank. And I think it just shows that everybody wants more, players and everybody else, and that’s the path we’re going to take, definitely.”
Your thoughts on Roli and his play, especially in the second period where he was single-handedly keeping you in the game?
COACH BOUCHER: “No, absolutely. I think Boston was coming, coming hard. We could feel our energy level going down. A lot of the guys have been drained from the previous series, and Roli really stood the fort there. He was outstanding tonight. It was a one-goal game. Just one goal takes you to the Stanley Cup Finals. So I don’t think he could have stopped that puck and I don’t think he could have done better than what he did tonight.”
“I mean, 41 years old. Can’t do more than that. It’s impressive. It’s mental toughness. He had a little lull in some of the previous games, and to come back that strong in the seventh game, it’s just a credit to the man. That’s impressive. That’s really impressive.”
Was there a point in the game when you felt you were in overtime already?
COACH BOUCHER: “I think it was in overtime the entire game, to be honest with you. That’s how it felt. I think the other team probably felt like that too. It was for who was going to make that one mistake. And it was us. And I just looked at the clip five times now, and it’s hard to look at, because you know it’s one little defensive mistake. And if you don’t make it, if they make one, if you capitalize on one of your chances, you know, we’re all happy here, but in the end, they deserve that goal. They made it happen. And they’re going to the Stanley Cup Finals.”
Did this game take on the personality of the Game 7 against Pittsburgh, did it just develop that way, or was that a strategy?
COACH BOUCHER: “ It was all, it was all. We played a very tight game in Game 7 against Pittsburgh, and that’s exactly what it was. But we were the ones that got that one goal. Really very, very, very similar game then against Pittsburgh. I’d love to say I’ll change the game plan and we’ll do other things, but the reality is the players gave everything they got. Everything they got, until the end. And then there was three minutes left. And we made it happen all year long. We came back all year long and kept coming and kept coming. We really believed we were coming back. So it’s a shock. When you really believe, it’s difficult to accept.”
They like to keep play five-on-five. They think that’s to their advantage. Were you back there thinking if we can just get a power play here, we can get our foot in the door and maybe that will turn this one?
COACH BOUCHER: “The power play has been a strength of ours, definitely. You’re hoping for one. But come the third period I wasn’t hoping for a power play. I think the two teams were very disciplined. I think we respected each other’s strengths and I think it was the type of game that probably 0-0 penalties. You know what, I can’t think of any moment where I feel there should have been a power play on either side. So that’s a credit to both teams’ discipline and attention to details.“
Photograph courtesy of George Krupa.
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?