Guy Boucher has taken the Lightning from a lottery team to one challenging for home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Guy Boucher needs room to operate even when he’s giving a post-game talk to reporters, so I can only imagine how animated he gets when he’s delivering an impassioned message to his players.
His most recent one came earlier this week and was directed at the Tampa Bay Lightning’s role players, who had not played up to the coach’s expectations during a stretch that saw the Bolts win just once in seven outings. The point must have gotten through, because Tampa went out and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2 on Monday, thanks in large part to Mattias Ritola doubling his season output from two to four goals and Mike Lundin notching his first of the year.
After the game, Boucher needed a little buffer zone between himself and the microphones as, with his typically high energy level, he shuffled back and forth a bit while parlaying the point he projected to his third- and fourth-liners: “The message was we can't wait for St-Louis and Stamkos and Lecavalier to score goals while you defend well. That's not the way it goes."
Conservatism comes naturally to coaching because there’s always an inherent element of self-preservation when your occupation is such a volatile one. It’s easy to understand why bench bosses are often more like doctors in their “first, do no harm” approach. That’s what makes a go-for-broke guy like Boucher so fun.
It’s not hard to imagine another coach telling the likes of Nate Thompson, Blair Jones and Dominic Moore that, if the score when they start their shift is the same as when their turn ends, they’ve done their job. But Boucher knows the difference between Tampa being a competitive team and a club that can really contend in the East is contributions from throughout the lineup – which is exactly what the Bolts were getting until their recent rough spot.
It’s always cool to see a team adopt its suited leader’s character and, in the case of Boucher, there’s a ton to soak in. The last time that happened in Tampa, the Bolts rode John Tortorella’s “Safe Is Death” cry to the 2004 Stanley Cup. That might be a slight reach for this version of the Bolts, but you can bet Boucher won’t let anybody on his bench believe that.
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