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May 18, 2017

Guy Boucher

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Practice Day

Q. Can you bring us up to date on the health of Alex Burrows?
GUY BOUCHER: Still waiting. I know last night after the game didn't seem as bad as it could. So I'll wait until later on today to get something more specific. So still hopeful for tomorrow.

Q. How would you describe your team's ability to control emotions, either from one game to the next or one period to the next?
GUY BOUCHER: At the beginning of the year, it wasn't very good. But I think that's something we've worked on extremely hard and focused on since day one. I think probably two months after the beginning of the season, you could really see that there was improvements, and then there were steady improvements until the end of the year. And until we have to live some real pressure moments, whether it was to make the playoffs or in the playoffs, we've -- I think we've displayed a great ability to reload mentally, physically, and emotionally, and that's to the credit of players who have really grown in that respect.

Q. Guy, matching skill for skill is a dangerous game when it comes to Sidney Crosby. Why is Erik Karlsson the preferred matchup for him for the Senators?
GUY BOUCHER: Why is it dangerous?

Q. Just, well, I guess it's more common practice for shutdown defensemen to take that matchup, but obviously, you and the Senators see a different approach.
GUY BOUCHER: Erik was our best defensive defenseman all year. So he's our best defensive defenseman, and Methot is his partner, and they've done a terrific job the last game, but they've done that all year. So did Dion and Ceci, and we've alternated those guys in different games against different players, and we've continued to do that all year. We're not doing anything different than we've done all year.

Q. You guys have done a pretty good job of staying on an even keel. How important is that approach going into this one?
GUY BOUCHER: You know what, I don't think it's less or more important than the previous games. I think that's how we've done it. We haven't put more emphasis on one game or the other. We want to make sure, though, that when we don't have periods that we like or moments that -- you know, moments that are not our identity, we make sure that we try to change that as fast as we can, and that's what we wanted after the third period in Pittsburgh.

Like I said, we've played nine periods now, and we played one period that we didn't like, and that was a third period in Pittsburgh. It was imperative that we, right away in the first period, get back to our identity and make sure that we came out strong in the first ten minutes of the game. That was yesterday, so we did what we wanted to do.

Q. I just have two other questions. Number one, do you think you're turning some heads now? You talked a lot in the Rangers series about you guys being underdogs. Do you think you're turning some heads now? My second question is: Do you expect to see Marc-Andre Fleury tomorrow night?
GUY BOUCHER: That's a lot of questions at the same time there, so I'll try to answer them one by one if I remember them. First is I didn't talk about being underdogs. I was asked. So I answer questions. I certainly didn't come out and on my own state that.

I'm aware that a lot of people were taking the Rangers, even with Boston. I'm aware of that. But to be honest with you, I don't know what is said out there. I've been focusing on our team, and I have no clue, you know. I think there's 7.5 billion people on the planet, so there's 7.5 billion opinions on everything. So I'm certainly not going to sit here and try to decipher which opinions I agree with and which I don't.

I think the only thing that matters really is our players, what we've done. We've been in a bubble all year long in that respect, in terms of what we wanted to do, what we wanted to be, and what our identity should look like. We've grown steadily in that respect, and we keep it this way. So everything else, to be honest with you, I don't know. I'm not interested in it either.

And your other question was if Fleury -- for me, that falls into the same category in the sense that I don't control that. To be honest with you, we don't care. We don't care who's on the other side. We've had to deal with Rask, who was on a tear, and then we had to deal with Lundqvist, who was on a tear, and we just played against Fleury, who was on a tear. Whether it's him or another goaltender, it's not something we control, and with makes no difference in our game.

That's why we're -- basically, I'm answering all your questions with we're just focusing on ourselves, like we've always done.

Q. Guy, I know something like this is difficult to quantify, but was last night the best game you've seen Methot play since he got here? And what makes him the perfect partner for Karlsson?
GUY BOUCHER: I wouldn't say it's his best. It's probably the one most people have seen, but he's played games like that before. I thought he had a terrific year. He really has.

What you saw yesterday is what he gave us all year. So he's not just Erik's partner. I think he's under the radar because Erik will log a lot of attention. But what he does is -- his mobility for his size is so impressive that it makes his gap terrific.

So when the opponent is attacking us, he's in their faces right away. So he can really gap up in just one or two strides, and he's there already, and he's got a long reach, and he's physical. I think that's probably, from what I hear, his most physical year, but he hasn't been in the playoffs. It's been all year. Like, he's been really good.

We knew that all year. He was giving us the ability to defend against the top teams, and Erik and Meth are quick. They're fast. So all year, whenever we played teams that had some quick, upper end players, they were usually the ones chosen to play against those guys.

Dion and Ceci are bigger, physical guys, and we've used those guys to play against the bigger guys, sometimes more of the east-west players or guys that had some grit. I think all four of those top four guys have been terrific in what we needed them to do, but Meth is the one that gets the least attention. Ceci is a young guy that everybody saw grow this year, so he gets some attention too. But I think Meth has definitely been an anchor for us back there big time. Just because now we're far in the playoffs, everybody is scrutinizing everything, all of a sudden, it just starts to become evident, but he's been like that all year.

Q. Guy, have you noticed over the course of the season some of your other defensemen, young guys, like a Wideman or somebody, learning from Karlsson, developing by watching and being around Karlsson, improving their game?
GUY BOUCHER: Oh, for sure. I mean, it's not just Karlsson. You've got 25 guys -- I always say, for me personally, I have 25 players, and I need 25 ways to coach. From a player's perspective, you've got 25 players on the team, and you've got 25 things that every player does better than somebody else.

So Erik has obviously terrific attributes that you can draw from, but not a lot that you can do necessarily. And if you're trying to be Erik, you're probably not going in the right direction. But he does have things that he does that can be done by other guys, and definitely Wideman has transitioned his quickness to spot players on breakouts and his ability to move laterally in the offensive zone on the blue line is definitely something that Wideman can learn from because he is that type of player.

Now, if we're asking Burrows to start imitating Erik, then I think we're not going in the right direction. So I think every player on the team has something to offer that they do better than everyone else, and I think it's everybody's job to try to pick that up. Erik is one, but we have many other guys that do something really well that other guys can learn from.

I think that's what's happened all year. Players have cared about each other and valued each other and valued their strengths, and with everybody's strengths, I think everybody got stronger.

Q. When the stakes are raised like this, how valuable is it to have a coach like Marc Crawford on your bench? And can you tell us what your working dynamic with him has been like this year?
GUY BOUCHER: Oh, it's been terrific. You know, reflecting on my last stint in the NHL, there's a lot of things that I go back and I do exactly the same, and there's a lot of good people I work with and a lot of experience that I could draw from. But I was preparing myself to come back, and the first thing I -- well, the first thing is I knew I needed a great relationship with my GM, and meeting Pierre, I knew right away, and he knew too. So in that regard, we were on the same page and definitely still are.

And then everything will flow from there. But I knew I needed a staff around me that I could trust, a staff around me that had experience, and a staff that would balance itself out in terms of emotions, and I knew I wanted Marc. I was lucky enough that the organization let me hire him, and I was lucky enough for him to say yes.

And the reason why I wanted Marc is we had people that we had worked with that both thought we'd be great together. So that's where my mind started, and that was the American League in Hamilton, and that stayed in my mind. Then I just kept following his career. Then I met him after, and then we coached against each other. I knew right away.

For me, I'm a people guy, and I always buy in to the person first, and I knew that the type of person I wanted to be around, but also the fact he had won at the NHL level. He had been at the World Cup. He'd been at the World Championships. He'd been at the Olympics. He had done it all. And I think for our players that was really important. I really felt this group needed as much experience as it could to accelerate the process of growing and to help me at the same time and complement my weaknesses and the things that I don't do as well. And also somebody that would let me be who I am at the same time.

So that's hard to find, but I really had the feeling that Marc was the guy. So he's been terrific all year. Emotional people understand each other, and what I like about Marc is we're the same in that respect. We can go really high. We can go really low. And that's great because then when I'm asking somebody how they feel about something, how they've dealt with things in the past, well, I know that it's in the same type of approach as I have, so it has a lot of value to me. Because if I ask somebody that has a totally different style than mine that has different values, it doesn't always resonate.

So I wanted somebody that would take care of the defensemen, that was strong enough to do so, that had the experience. Because, obviously, Erik Karlsson and Phaneuf and those guys, they'd seen a lot before, and they needed somebody strong, and that's what Marc is -- experienced, strong, and extremely humble at the same time and very bright. He's done an unbelievable job with the group, and I think the rest of the staff were terrific complements to Marc and I, and I think that's what we're seeing right now. That's why it's a total package.

Everything that's happening now is due to a lot of people working well together. That's what it is. Players, staff, management. So we have a good synergy.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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