By Kyle Shohara
There are few men in the history of the NHL with the regular season success Bruce Boudreau has enjoyed in his nine seasons as a head coach in this league with the Ducks and Washington Capitals. The 61-year-old Boudreau has led his teams to a remarkable eight division titles, including the last four Pacific Division crowns in Anaheim. Last month he became the fastest coach to reach 400 wins, doing so in just his 663rd game.
But the ultimate NHL postseason success is an apex that Boudreau has yet to reach, though he reached the conference finals for the first time last year. Still in search of that first Cup, Boudreau shared his thoughts on what the Stanley Cup Playoffs mean to him and what fans can expect from the Ducks this time around.
There’s nothing quite like the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But for you, a hockey lifer, can you truly put into words what the playoffs are all about?
|"You can tell the difference in the crowd from Day 1 of how much they’ve been waiting to get into this. It becomes almost sudden death. You know you can be done with hockey in a week." |
No, I can’t. But in my case, I remember all the competitive juices that come with it. You want to win everything you partake in. Growing up, all you watched, and up until now, for a lot of years, you always remember the people lifting the Stanley Cup. That’s the thing that drives you. Everybody wants that feeling. We know how hard a trophy it is to win. Nobody talks about money. It’s only the Cup that matters. I’d probably ball like a baby and wish my dad and brother were there to see it. It’s never happened, but it’s our dream to do that. We always strive to do that.
From where this team started to where they are now, do you think the adversity from early on will be beneficial as it heads into the playoffs?
A player and I were recently talking about how the adversity we faced early on in the season came back to help us late in the season. I think it [shows], especially when you play the best offensive team in the league [referring to the 3-1 victory over Dallas on April 3]. You shut them down for 59 minutes. It gives you faith that you can do it.
That first morning after the regular season ends, for teams in the playoffs there just seems to be a different aura around the building. Can you feel the difference?
You can tell. Players can tell. You can tell the difference in the crowd from Day 1 of how much they’ve been waiting to get into this. It becomes almost sudden death. You know you can be done with hockey in a week. When you’re playing in the regular season, you know when the finite ending is. You know that’s the case, so you’re thinking you’re going to play an extra two months. From a coach’s standpoint, how much more do you ramp up game preparation in the playoffs?
We go more in-depth because you know you’re playing the same team up to seven times in a row. We’ll have a pretty good book. You don’t go over every team individually and all that stuff for 82 games [during the regular season], but you do in the playoffs. It’s a little more hectic. There is so much more you put into it.
I know, in the past, you’ve said there are times when you need to be as even-keeled behind the bench as possible. But is it hard not to celebrate following a dramatic goal? We’ve had a few of those over the past few postseasons.
|"They can expect us never to quit. This group could’ve given up after game 10 or 15, but they kept going. We’re a group that’s pretty resilient. They play pretty hard. That’s what the fans are going to see." |
I’m superstitious. An overtime goal might be a different thing because you’re celebrating pretty good, but I’ve celebrated goals in the past and the other team has come back to score. Now I try to be as stoic behind the bench as possible, unless it’s a game-deciding goal in overtime or right at the end of the game.What have you learned from previous postseasons that you can take into this year?
You’ve learned a lot. You’ve learned that the level picks up. You’ve learned that you need everybody. You can’t rely on three guys. Sometimes in a game, you can win with 10 players playing good and 10 players playing bad. In the playoffs, you need everybody going every moment of the day. You also need good depth because if you’re going to go anywhere, you’re going to get injuries.What advice will you give your players in the postseason, especially those who haven’t experienced playoff hockey?
Enjoy it. Just play hard and don’t worry about anything. Enjoy the game and play the way you’re supposed to play. Everything will work out.And to the fans, what can they expect from the Ducks this time around?
They can expect us never to quit. This group could’ve given up after game 10 or 15, but they kept going. We’re a group that’s pretty resilient. They play pretty hard. That’s what the fans are going to see.