‘Rest is a weapon’ for Boucher’s Sen­a­tors

The Daily Observer - - SPORTS - KEN WAR­REN kwar­ren@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/ Ci­ti­zenkwar­ren

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.”

TONY CALDWELL/POST­MEDIA

Sen­a­tors head coach Guy Boucher talks to re­porters Wed­nes­day in Ot­tawa.

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