Pregame Q&A with BB

Caps coach Bruce Boudreau held court for a few minutes before tonight’s game, and here’s what was said. And I apologize … I totally spaced out and forgot to ask how Alexander Semin would fit into the team’s power play. I guess we’ll find out in an hour or so.

For the first couple of games when a new coach comes in, guys generally play the best they can and try to impress you and earn some ice time. What happens when that novelty wears off for them?

“Well, then there’s somebody else who will hopefully want to do the same thing. and hopefully it doesn’t wear off. Because if they’re going to play like that and continue to have success they’ll say, ‘You know what? I like winning. This is fun.’ The bottom line is winning is the most fun thing you can do in sports. I hope it’s something that doesn’t wear off at all.”

More specifially, how do you keep it going?

“Keep pushing them, I believe anyway. You just keep pushing them and you don’t give them a chance to let up. Every game is a different goal. Every practice there is a different reason to do it well. As long as I don’t become mundane and the message doesn’t turn into, ‘Oh here we go again, I’ve heard that one before,’ I think they’ll get excited because they’re a great group of men.”

Steve Eminger is going to be in the lineup tonight. He doesn’t really have confidence, he doesn’t have no confidence. He hasn’t played, and he probably isn’t in real game shape; he has only played one game. What do you expect from him, and will it take a few games before you can really evaluate him?

“Quite frankly, it’s his job to be in shape and it’s his job to be ready. I expect him to play just as good as every other defenseman on the team. Because if we don’t [expect that] and we say, ‘Oh he’s got to take a few games,’ and this and that, then it’s an excuse. And if you’re a guy that doesn’t accept excuses, then that’s it. He’s got to play good. We’re going to use eight [defensemen]. Eight defensemen over a long season. And if he wants to get more ice time and he goes out there and plays good, he’ll continue to play.”

Bruce, do you think that using eight [defensemen] and also moving some forwards in and out is going to keep them motivated? Is that part of your master plan?

“I think the plan everywhere is that if you want to have a 23-man team, then you’ve got to play 23 guys. I’ve never seen guys that have been sat out for long periods of time [who feel like they’re part of the team]. As a hockey player, as much as you want to be part of it, you don’t feel part of it. We want everyone to feel part of it and we want everybody to feel part of success. If they can feel part of success, then tehy’ll pull for everybody. There are guys out of the lineup tonight that I thought played pretty well the last game and the last two games. But they have to understand that we’ll move around some people. And the other guy is going to come in and hopefully he is not going to want to let down the team or the guy [whose spot he is taking].”

The Matt Pettinger decision, is that performance based?

“We’ve got 13 forwards. I thought Petty played great in Philadelphia. Just because you don’t score, sometimes you have four chances. He had four good shots on net, he had a great chance with a minute and a half to go and he competed. [Saturday] he was looking a little down. I think sometimes when a guy is used to having more success than he is having, it’s not bad to watch a game, to see the game from above and watch video on himself. Sometimes you can spot something. But I anticipate him being back in the lineup soon.”

There are a lot of coaches who wouldn’t change anything when they’ve won a game or two games. Was there a certain point in your career when you came by that philosophy? Because I think it’s rare. I think most coaches, if they win, they don’t make the change.

“I don’t know. Sometimes when you’re coaching in the American League, it’s more being fair. And when you’re a player who was called up an awful lot and sat in the stands an awful lot, I know exactly what the players went through and it wasn’t conducive to winning. Because when you sit in the stands for an awful lot, whether you like it or not, human nature is, ‘I hope we don’t do well.’ And I want everybody to pull for everybody. I want when we come down [after the game] today if we’re lucky enough to win the game, that everybody is all pumped up, not just the 20 who played.”

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