OTTAWA — This time around in the Eastern Conference final, and this being Ottawa, Guy Boucher has given his players plenty of time to stop and smell the tulips.
A full Senators practice has been rare in these playoffs. Even back to the past month of the regular season, you can count the number of non-game-day workouts on one hand.
It wasn’t always that way with Boucher, though.
Clearly, he learned a thing or two from his first NHL coaching gig with the Tampa Bay Lightning, when he was sometimes criticized for pushing his players too hard.
During a run to the 2011 East final, when Tampa lost to Boston in seven games, Boucher acknowledged pushing his players too hard with practices late in the regular season.
“That was a probably a little mistake we made in February (of 2011),” he told the Tampa Bay Times back then, a response to captain Martin St. Louis’s claims that the club had “hit a wall” during a tough stretch.
“The entire year we gave a lot of rest to the players because we’re a hard-grinding team and all the games we push so hard. But we missed so may practices, we wanted to catch up. That kind of threw us off a little bit, in terms of rest. We caught up enough in practices, but catching up in practices doesn’t necessarily mean wins.”
At the time, Lightning star Steven Stamkos told reporters, “rest is a weapon.” Come the 2016-17 season and playoffs, it has become a catch phrase for Boucher as the team enjoys a surprising run.
Speaking before Game 3 against Pittsburgh Wednesday, Boucher says there’s little doubt that having been through it all before, coupled with the experience of his staff, has made him a better coach.
“It’s not the same players, it’s not the same circumstances, but there are a lot of the things that are similar in terms of managing rest and knowing that it’s a round that really is tougher than previous ones,” he said.
“So, yeah, it’s a lot about managing a rest and a lot about managing emotions and other things that we won’t get into. But, yeah, once you’ve done it, definitely there are things that you see differently and that you manage differently.”
Article written by Ken Warren on the Ottawa Sun Website. Follow the link here.