In this week's edition of Bruce Bites, Wild.com's Dan Myers sits down with Wild coach Bruce Boudreau to talk about dwelling on wins and losses, childhood memories and Patrik Laine's ridiculous month:
Dan Myers: Do you have a set amount of time you like players to dwell on a previous game, whether it's a win or a loss?
Bruce Boudreau: Well, my whole thing is, I won't come in the dressing room and give guys crap after a game because I have to watch the game to see if I'm just emotional or if I'm right. In this case, I didn't say anything last night [in Columbus], so I said things today and let them know what I'm feeling today. And then we go out, we have practice and then we move on to the next game. It's not like football where you've got a week to get ready. You usually have three games in four nights.
DM: The last couple games aside, it seems like the mood inside this locker room is different than in years past, even on some of the teams that have gone through elite stretches. Obviously, winning has a big part to do with that, but have you noticed anything else about the room that has allowed it to feel so loose and so, for lack of a better word, happy?
BB: I think familiarity, everybody knows everybody now a lot better, they know what tweaks them. I think that's a big help. When you start off well and you make the environment a friendly one where you want to come to work, it works better than the alternative. If there were any reason why, I think those would be the reasons. Everybody is happy in their own skin now. They know their spots, and that means a lot I'd guess.
DM: But ultimately, if a team is winning, that's No. 1 right?
BB: A team winning makes everybody happy.
DM: The Maple Leafs are in town this weekend. You were drafted by them and played for them, but before that, you grew up a Leafs fan. What is your favorite childhood memory of the team?
BB: I don't know if I have any one in particular, but I have the memories of ... I'd never miss a game, first of all, on TV or on radio back in the, I hate to say it, the 60s. But my favorite memory that I think about was a fun time was listening to the Leafs on the radio in bed when I'm supposed to be asleep, when you had a little transistor radio and you'd put it underneath the pillow in your room and turn it on once your parents left the room or were far enough away that they couldn't hear. Memories of playing road hockey and saying that you're Darryl Sittler or Dave Keon or Frank Mahovlich and going to school the next day and all you did was talk about it with your friends.
One of the memories I have is, the day they traded Frank Mahovlich, who was my favorite player, I wrote in all my text books, "I'll never like the Leafs again!" And you weren't supposed to deface text books, but when you were so intertwined with the team, it's what you did. I was about as big a Leafs fan as you could probably get. So being drafted by them and being able to play for them and be in the Blue and White since I was 12 years old, that was pretty special.
DM: How long did you swear off the Leafs after that?
BB: Not long. I'd try to go back and erase the notes I left in my textbook, but they were all in ink. And you didn't have to buy your own textbooks, so you had to hand them back in. Then your parents would get a bill for a new book and they wouldn't like that.
DM: Patrik Laine scored 18 goals in the month of November. You could score a little bit back in your day and you've coached arguably the League's best goal scorer of his generation. But how ridiculous a number is that for a guy in one month?
BB: That's a pretty amazing number. That's phenomenal when you think about it. I coached Ovechkin, so I know what guys with great shots can do. When Ovi scored 65 [in 2007-08], it was like he was scoring all the time. But this is a pace that's even beyond that.
DM: So many prognosticators at the beginning of the season pegged the Central Division as the toughest in hockey. When you look at Nashville and Winnipeg, they seem as advertised. Colorado is clearly not a one-year thing. You're off to a good start. Dallas is in the mix. Just how tough is this division right now? There really isn't a night off when you're playing this group.
BB: I think that's the reason why we get a little [angry when we lose third-period leads]. Every game, it's not like you're waiting until game 40 ... every game, right now, game one to now becomes so vital, so important.
We lose a 3-1 third-period lead to Arizona, 2-1 lead to Buffalo. These are games where, quite frankly, if you look at it, where you could be sitting at 17 or 18 wins right now. They're wins you can't get back, so they're very frustrating at the time.
DM: It seems like you look one day and you're in second place and then three days later, you look ...
BB: And you're in fifth? The only good news is, that can change in a hurry. We have a game this weekend and we can salvage the week. And then you go on the road and you have a good week on the road, you're right back to where you want to be. But it's not gonna be, a) easy, and, b) you don't want to slide any further than you already have.
Bruce Bites: Boudreau answers readers' questions