Pre-Game Q&A with BB

Caps coach Bruce Boudreau held court for the media before the game tonight, and the transcript follows. First, a few notes on the game.

The Caps will ice the same lineup for the third consecutive game. Carolina defenseman Bret Hedican (torso) will be a game-time decision. If he can’t go, Dennis Seidenberg will be in. Both Justin Williams and Ray Whitney will be back in the lineup tonight for Carolina after lengthy absences. They’ll play on the fourth line with Jeff Hamilton to start with, but they’ll also get some power play time.

Here’s what Bruce had to say.

How exciting is this to have three games left in the season and be right in the thick of it?
“I don’t think anything has changed. We’re not looking at three games. We’re looking at tonight. When we wake up tomorrow we’ll figure out what we have to do tomorrow. It has been a long haul to do this and we want to continue to be able to do it a little longer.”

How important is it for you guys to stay out of the penalty box against this team?
“I think they got two [power play] goals last game against us and they got four [power play] goals the game before so I would think it would be something that we’ve addressed. Hopefully it can be done. I think it’s two teams that are going to be highly emotional today. I think the team that might be a little smarter – and controlled emotion is one of the things we talk about – might have a little bit of the upper hand.”

Why do they get so many penalty calls? Is that an acquired skill?
“An acquired dive? I don’t know. They lead the league in calls against them. I don’t know what it is. Whatever it is, I’d like to know how to do it. Maybe they play harder than every other team and get called with hooks and everything.”

What’s the mood like in there? Are the guys up, nervous, apprehensive?
“I think the mood is all of those. Before the season is over you don’t get to play in games like this too often. They’re excited. A lot of guys haven’t been involved this close to the end of the season with something that really matters at home. I’m sure they’re excited and yet apprehensive.”

Are the what-if scenarios too mind-boggling for you to follow?
“No. It’s fun. It’s better than, ‘What if we went golfing today? What would happen?’ It’s a lot better than that. We’re looking at every other team, watching the TV, watching what Carolina does. It’s an exciting part. I can only imagine if we’re lucky enough to get in, how exciting it will be in the following weeks.”

[Carolina] is only a couple years removed from playing 20-some games of a bit higher magnitude than this one. How much does that come into play tonight do you think?
“I think it does a lot. The last time we were in this situation to tie them or go ahead of them in the standings – it might have been as many as six weeks ago – we talked about them having a lot of championship blood over in that room. They’re going to know what to do and how to play. They came out and they scored two goals in the first period and won the game. I don’t think anything has changed from that. They know how to play. They’ve been in first place for a long time. They know what we want and they know that they can clinch first place with a win. I’ve got to believe that they’re going to play as good as they possibly can.”

Last week against Carolina, in the game you went on to win in the shootout, the first 10 minutes of that game I thought the Caps played really, really well. Was that one of the better starts you’ve had against this team?
“I think it was, but it was a necessity because we know how good they come out in the first period, and what their scoring differential in the last 15 games has been in the first period and all of those things. They’ve won a lot of games in the first period. We knew just what we had to do and we played as hard as we could.

“The biggest disappointment was that we were down 1-0 after the [period], and we were a little worried going into the second. It’s a game we have to play like that for 60 minutes. We can’t afford to have just one real good period and I thought in Carolina we did, we had three good periods. With three good periods and them being as depleted as they were, it still took a shootout [to beat them]. We know we’re in for a battle.”

As well as you guys have played, you’re still in the position you are now. Is that frustrating?
“It’s frustrating. You’d like to be able to sit there and say you’re in first place. But the frustrating thing is if you’re not mentally tough enough and you say, ‘I’ve tried so hard and I’m tired and I don’t want to try any harder.’ That’s the one thing you can’t say about us. For the last three months we’ve been in playoff mode and we haven’t given up. We could have in the two games against Boston and Pittsburgh, probably two of the most depressing losses you’re going to see, and then we ran off four [wins] in a row. So this is a resilient group. They’re going to play with probably a lot of emotion. I hope it’s not too much emotion. But they’re going to give it their best shot again.”

What about [Nicklas] Backstrom and the resiliency there for a rookie?
“I just told him, ‘Don’t worry about it. If that’s the worst mistake you make in the next 15 years, that’s okay.’ It didn’t happen in a playoff game in a seventh game. The games he has won for us by himself quite frankly have more than made up for that little mistake he made.”

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5 Comments on “Pre-Game Q&A with BB”

  1. Tom in FL Says:

    Good game. Can’t get too excited yet. Here was my note from the other day:

    Here are 6 teams pretty much fighting for five spots (I’m giving NJ a pass w/93 pts):

    OTT 92 pts – 4/1 MON; 4/3 @TOR; 4/4 BOS
    NYR 91 pts – 3/31 PIT; 4/3 @ NYI; 4/4 NYI; 4/6 @NJ
    PHI 91 pts – 4/2 @PIT; 4/4 NJ; 4/6 PIT
    BOS 90 pts – Now @BUF; 4/2 @NJ; 4/4 @OTT; 4/5 BUF
    CAR 90 pts – 4/1 @WAS; 4/2 TAM; 4/4 FLA
    WAS 88 pts – 4/1 CAR; 4/3 TAM; 4/5 FLA

    Ottawa has the most points but they are playing the worst. NYR has the game in hand. PHI has the toughest schedule remaining. BOS has the game now in hand plus relatively east schedule. WAS has the easiest overall schedule incl all games at home. WAS also holds tiebreaker over everyone but CAR (Ottawa by virtue of 4-0 reg season record and the other four due to likely more wins if they end up tied).

    Now it is:

    NYR 93 pts – 4/3 @ NYI; 4/4 NYI; 4/6 @NJ (Now THEY get a pass)
    OTT 92 pts – 4/3 @TOR; 4/4 BOS
    PHI 91 pts – 4/2 @PIT; 4/4 NJ; 4/6 PIT
    BOS 91 pts – 4/2 @NJ; 4/4 @OTT; 4/5 BUF
    CAR 90 pts – 4/2 TAM; 4/4 FLA
    WAS 90 pts – 4/3 TAM; 4/5 FLA

    I gave NJ a pass and now they are in. NYR gets a pass at this point needing only two pts and with the next two games vs NYI. (95 pts secures a playoff spot.) Ottawa has choked, as predicted, losing at home to MON. As predicted, the Caps took down CAR. The Canes still enjoy the tiebreaker but must play tomorrow against a rested Tampa. I’ll still predict that the Canes and Caps both win out; OTT loses either at TOR or home vs BOS; and Filthydelphia struggles vs PIT-NJ-PIT in their last three. It is very possible that the Caps and Canes both get in and the Caps play Montreal in the first round. Huet vs Price. Boudreau vs Price, after Price led the Hamilton Bulldogs over Boudreau’s Bears for the Calder Cup last spring. I can see the Caps taking this series with Federov playing a huge role. Then the Caps play the Pens, who will have defeated the #7 team – either OTT or PHI. Caps win! Caps win!! CAPS WIN!!! Finally we play New Jersey, who will have defeated Boston at #5 and Carolina. Who can predict? Either way, the winner gets whipped by either (pick your poison) San Jose, Detroit or Anaheim. The Gods of Hockey might make it SJ vs Caps so it can be Ron Wilson vs Boudreau. I can see that. And I can see Ovechkin stepping up huge, but Joe Thornton stepping up even more. So, there it is, the Sharks in five over the Caps.

    Now that the future has been foretold y’all might as well head to Vegas and put your money down and make a few bucks off the whole thing.

  2. Betsy Says:

    “An acquired dive.” Quote of the day courtesy of Uncle Bruce.

  3. AJD Says:

    Wooo-hooooo, what a great game last night.

    I am starting to like the Caps’ chances of making the playoffs, simply because they have so may scenarios that will get them in.

    All of them are predicated on the Caps winning out, but the Merciless God of Schedule-Making has smiled upon our boys, in that they get both Tampa and Florida on the second of back-to-back nights – with the first games coming courtesy of the bete noir of the moment, Carolina.

    If they do win out, they can get in over the following teams:

    1. Carolina picks up 3 or fewer points in their remaining two (doubtful, imo)

    2. Ottawa picks up 2 or fewer points in their remaining two (possible, and note that they play Boston in their last game 0n the back end of consecutive nights, so someone is picking up only 1 or hopefully zero points in that one. Caps would win the tiebreaker in this scenario.)

    3. Philly picks up 3 or fewer points in their remaining 3 (they’ve got the Pens twice and one with NJ, so it’s entirely possible they go 1-1-1 and lose a tiebreaker with the Caps)

    4. Boston picks up 2 our fewer points in their remaining 3 (again, doubtful imo, but you never know).

    Anyway, I think the odds are pretty good that one of those scenarios pans out. Especially if the refs – as last night made me think – are determined to keep the Caps on the PP on a regular basis.

    Go, Caps, Go!

  4. Tom in FL Says:

    AJD:

    Your “Option 4” I believe is incorrect. Actually Boston can gain three points in their last three games, end with 94, and lose to the Caps on tiebreaker if Caps win out.

    There’s also a remote chance that NYR could lose all three in regulation they have left, stay at 93 pts, and we could pass them. Very remote chance.

    I agree with your odds, though. BOS at NJ really big game tonight, as is Philly at Pitt and the Canes hosting Tampa. Even if Boston loses tonight, I can see them beating Ottawa and Buffalo to get the requisite 95 pts to ensure the playoffs.

    It’s a lot harder to figure out the possible scenarios with every game being maybe two, maybe three points.

  5. Tom in FL Says:

    NYR 93 pts – 4/3 @ NYI; 4/4 NYI; 4/6 @NJ
    OTT 92 pts – 4/3 @TOR; 4/4 BOS
    BOS 92 pts – 4/4 @OTT; 4/5 BUF
    CAR 92 pts – 4/4 FLA
    PHI 91 pts – 4/4 NJ; 4/6 PIT
    WAS 90 pts – 4/3 TAM; 4/5 FLA

    As long as Boston at Ottawa on 4/4 is a two-point game, the Caps are in if they win out. That’s the way I have it figured. Any regulation loss by either the Canes, Ottawa, Boston or Philly, the Caps are in if they win both remaining games, due to owning tiebreaker over Boston and Philly (more wins) and Ottawa (better head-to-head record).

    Buffalo can also sneak in if they win both of their games and the teams above them lose almost all their games.


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