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Calm Boucher has backing from Bolts

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

He didn't scream, pout, or even add some "character marks" to the decorum of the Tampa Bay Lightning locker room by shattering a stick in a heave born of frustration.

Rather, Bolts head coach Guy Boucher, seemingly unparalleled in the department of human relations, stayed the course and encouraged his players to do the same.

The Lightning had just lost its seventh game in a row, but Boucher nonetheless chose to exercise his keen sense of cerebral acumen by focusing on the positives, highlighting certain building blocks for which the team to rally around as it looked to snap its longest skid since the 2008-09 season.

For that, the players believe in Boucher.

"He's unlike any other coach I have ever played for," defenseman Matt Gilroy said. "I've had coaches who have beat us into the ground when things aren't going well, but all he preaches is that we all stay together, stick to the structure and if we do that, good things will happen."

Boucher was more than entitled to throw a tantrum on more than one occasion.

There were the slow starts, the turnovers in the defensive zone, the careless penalties and the power-less power play all to point out.

Furthermore, the team was back in contention after sweeping a three-game home stand prior to the New Year, but struggled to keep it going after that by dropping every single game, that for the Lightning, had "must have" stamped all over it.

So, just what exactly made the coach keep his cool? Boucher saw things from a different perspective.

"Our guys were battling," Boucher said. "They were coming out hard, they were fighting and pushing. I could see it in their expression. They came off the ice looking defeated and I said 'Hey, come on, let's use this as something to build on and go get the next one.' "

It wasn't time to panic, it was time to fight. It wasn't time to dwell on costly mistakes, it was time to correct them.

It wasn't time to point fingers and single out individual culprits, it was time to rally together, to a man, and collectively overcome adversity.

"We win as a team and we lose as a team," Boucher said.

One of the perks that comes with Boucher's sports psychology degree is an uncanny ability to know his players better than they know themselves.

He knows when they are uninspired, and when their skates could easily transform into wings.

He saw the latter on Tuesday night with 3:45 left in the third period.

Dominic Moore had just blasted a slap shot from above the left circle that sent the head of Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas spinning atop his shoulders and the sellout crowd of 19,204 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum into a frenzy.

Steven Stamkos joined in on the party minutes later with a game-sealing empty net goal.

It was May 25, 2011 all over again. And it was something else too. It was a scene depicting a team that rallied together, heeding the advice of its coach, and reacting in the only way they knew how.

With a fury proving that when you believe, anything's possible.

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