In this week's edition of Bruce Bites, Wild.com's Dan Myers sits down with Wild coach Bruce Boudreau to talk about prepping for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, acts of Minnesota Nice and whether he's ever said anything in a post-game press conference that he immediately regretted:
Dan Myers: At the beginning of the press scrum in Winnipeg on Sunday, you said right away you didn't want to "say something stupid." You reiterated that point again on Tuesday after a 48-hour cooling-off period. Was the ability to shut things down the other day a result of something early in your career, a presser where afterward, you thought to yourself, "Maybe I shouldn't have said that"?
Bruce Boudreau: I think that, as a player and as a coach, I've done that in the past. I get emotional, and I tell the players, "I don't know what's coming out of my mouth right now, but something is coming out." I just felt [on Sunday] that I could have said something negative about a player or something about our play as a team and it wouldn't have been the right time. And it definitely wouldn't have been the right message.
DM: I know you'd love to go through the whole season and not lose a game. But if you're able to climb out of this recent funk, do you believe it has the ability to harden the team heading into the playoffs? Down the road, could it be beneficial to have gone through this?
BB: If you're looking for positives, that's the positive out of it. But when you go through it, you never think of it as a positive. It's got the potential to be positive, but whether it will or whether it won't, I don't know. If you ask me, I would like to win every game. I'd rather just play at the same level all the time, but you don't. You go through peaks and valleys during the course of a year.
DM: The Wild hasn't clinched a playoff spot yet, but in all likelihood, it will shortly. When does playoff prep start? After you clinch? After the regular season? And what is that process like?
BB: Probably after this weekend, we're gonna know it's going to be one of two teams, either Nashville or St. Louis. If Los Angeles loses a game, they can't catch us, I don't think they're gonna catch these other two teams. If we ended up in first, we'd probably play Nashville or St. Louis and if we end up in second, we're gonna play Nashville or St. Louis. So we can start having people do some stuff on both of those teams.
DM: Does it make playoff prep easier when you know you're playing a divisional team that you see more often during the regular season?
BB: It makes knowing [opponents] system-wise, a little bit easier, but it doesn't mean anything else is easier. Sometimes it can be harder, if you see a team and you've had success against them all year, then you're saying, "Hey, we can beat those guys." But come playoff time, the teams that win are the teams that can up their games by 10 to 20 percent. And if you can't up your game by 10 to 20 percent, even if you're the better team, you're not gonna win.
DM: There's a dozen or so guys in the mix this season for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the NHL's Most Valuable Player. As a hockey fan, if you had to pay money to see one or two players in today's NHL, who would they be?
BB: There's lots of good players out there people pay money to watch. I think people pay money to watch Connor McDavid because he's new. Auston Matthews is new. But people pay money to see Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. These guys are superstars, in every sense of the word. Vladimir Tarasenko, you can go on and on with different individuals. With me, you're asking the wrong guy because I'd just pay money to go see a hockey game.
DM: One Twitter question this week comes from Wild Nation (@mnwild_nation), who wants to know the most "Minnesota Nice" thing you've experienced in your time back here.
BB: Yeah, I went for lunch the other day with my wife and went to pay the bill and it had already been paid by someone I never met or saw. I thought that was just too cool.