"Winning is it; I have a hard time thinking of doing anything without the ultimate goal - victory," Boudreau told NHL.com. "It doesn't always come true but if that's not your goal than you're looking to be mediocre. As a player, maybe I didn't learn that early in my career. But over the last half of my playing career and now in coaching, it's all about winning."
Boudreau recently took some time to discuss last season and his expectations for 2009-10 with NHL.com.
Here are a few highlights of that interview:
NHL.com: What do you feel went wrong for your team in Game 7 against Pittsburgh?
Boudreau: "We just had a bad game. Pittsburgh had a bad game against Detroit, but it was Game 5 so they had a chance to rebound. If we played Game 3 like we played Game 7, maybe we would have been right there and no one would be asking that question. When you look at it and try to examine it 100 different ways, they scored two goals in 20 seconds (in the first period) and we came out all jumped up for the second period and they scored two goals in the first minute and that sort of took the sails right out of our ship. In two minutes, they scored four goals and that's the series right there."
NHL.com: Can Alex Ovechkin, 23, get any better than he is right now and, if so, how?
Boudreau: "I think the best years of your life are between 26 and 30 and he's not 26 yet. He went 10 games without a goal last year and at the beginning of the season he struggled with his grandfather being sick and going back to Russia. So, can he get better, yeah. He took almost 500 shots on goal and if he gets 2 percent more accurate, he's almost at the 70-goal plateau. Can some of those shots go in that didn't go in, yeah, they could."
NHL.com: For fans, watching the Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby drama unfold during last year's playoffs was fantastic. How was it from a coaches' perspective?
Boudreau: "It's tough to get involved in that because we're thinking team versus team. When you sit back as a fan, it's pretty intriguing hockey. When you throw (Evgeni) Malkin and (Alexander) Semin into the mix, there's some really good story lines there. But it's a natural thing between Sidney and Ovie that's gone on since both came into the League and I think it's great for hockey and I hope it continues for a lot of years."
NHL.com: Did Crosby strike you any differently during last year's playoffs? Did he seem more driven?
"Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup and that hasn't changed. I don't know if we've gotten any closer with the changes made this summer but I do think our guys, to a man, think that if things could have gone a little different in Game 7 (against Pittsburgh last season) we would have had a great chance to win it. If anything, we're ready to at least defend our Southeast Division crown." -- Bruce Boudreau
NHL.com: Are there any key starting positions on your team that will be determined at training camp?
Boudreau: "Everyone keeps forgetting about (goalie) Michal Neuvirth, who was the MVP of the American Hockey League playoffs. And for a 20-year-old goalie that makes for a pretty good battle (with Jose Theodore and Semyon Varlamov). And everyone has talked about the 10 defensemen in the mix. And (forward) Alex Giroux set a single-season record for goals (72) in a season and didn't re-sign with us to play in Hershey -- I know he thinks he has a really good chance and he's going to get the opportunity. When you look at the AHL teams that win the Calder Cup, invariably six or seven of those guys in a year or two are all playing in the NHL. So I would think every one of the players who played on that team (in Hershey) are coming into our lineup hoping to usurp somebody and that's their job. Our guys from Hershey are really going to push the guys here even though I felt we had a pretty good team last year."
NHL.com: Are you entering your second full season with a different mentality than your first?
Boudreau: "The goal is always the same. When we lost in the first round to Philadelphia (in 2007-08) I firmly believed that if things went our way, we would have had a chance to win the Stanley Cup. Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup and that hasn't changed. I don't know if we've gotten any closer with the changes made this summer but I do think our guys, to a man, think that if things could have gone a little different in Game 7 (against Pittsburgh last season) we would have had a great chance to win it. If anything, we're ready to at least defend our Southeast Division crown."
Contact Mike Morreale at firstname.lastname@example.org