Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Boucher always believed in Lightning

Categories: BOS vs. TAM, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning

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Guy Boucher, left, told Lightning GM Steve Yzerman at the start of the season that his goal was to win the Stanley Cup. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press) Guy Boucher, left, told Lightning GM Steve Yzerman at the start of the season that his goal was to win the Stanley Cup. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)
When Steve Yzerman pondered the 2010-11 season, the rookie GM had a simple goal: Make the playoffs.

Guy Boucher, the man Yzerman hired to serve as his first coach, had higher expectations.

"When I talked to Guy at the beginning of the season, his goal was to win the Stanley Cup," Yzerman said. "He said, 'I'll figure out a way.'

"He's got big expectations on himself. When we sat down at the beginning of the year, I wanted this to be a playoff team. Watching him work, he's done an excellent job. He and his entire staff spend countless hours preparing for every game and every practice. He's very detail-oriented. I'm not surprised he's been successful. There are reasons why he's been successful at every level."

Yzerman was hired on May 25, 2010, and his most important move took place less than a month late. On June 10, Yzerman hired Boucher, who had also interviewed with Columbus.

"I know a lot of people who have worked with Guy that I've worked with as  well," Yzerman said. "Everyone I talked to, the question was, 'Do you think he's ready to make that step to the NHL?' It was unequivocally yes. Absolutely he's ready.

"I talked to him about his preparation and his work ethic on a daily basis. It reaffirmed, no question, that he was ready to go. He's very innovative. He's a real student of the game. His attention to detail, the depth he goes into, how he wants the team to play, he's very comfortable with that.

"The biggest thing is that he has very good people skills. He's very sincere. That comes across when he's dealing with players and people. He's genuine. That's what he is. He's an honest guy. I felt strongly, going in, that he was ready to coach in the NHL. He's like
Mike Babcock. Anaheim was [Babcock's] first job in the NHL. He was ready."

Depth signing emerges

In August, when the Lightning were kicking the tires on Sean Bergenheim, they had little idea the bump-first wing would be the leading goal scorer in the 2011 playoffs.

At the time, the Lightning had a vacancy at left wing on the third line. They wanted a competitive checker to fill the role at low cost. Dan Lacroix, hired to be one of Boucher's assistants, coached Bergenheim while with the Islanders and gave his approval.

At $700,000, Bergenheim's price was right. Or, in hindsight, a steal.

"Piecing the lines together, we had one spot: third-line left winger," Yzerman said. "Who would be best for that at a certain dollar amount? We identified Sean. We liked his competitiveness and work ethic."

"We were looking for somebody to be a checker and an effective penalty-killer who could chip in with the odd goal," Yzerman added. "For the most part, he's done that and probably exceeded that."

Bergenheim has been riding on the third line with Dominic Moore and Steve Downie. Through 11 games, Bergenheim has seven goals and one assist.

"Bergenheim has been a good player for them," Claude Julien said. "I liked him before he even went to Tampa Bay. I thought he was a pretty decent player and a hard competitor. Right now, things seem to be going his way. We're certainly aware of what he's done for that team."

Rest day for both teams

Because of the long layoff between Rounds 2 and 3, both the Bruins and the Lightning were given rest days Wednesday. They will report back to their respective rinks on Thursday for practice.

The Lightning are required to be in Boston on Friday to fulfill media obligations. However, the team has yet to decide whether to practice in Tampa or Boston on Friday. If the Boston Celtics are eliminated from the NBA playoffs on Wednesday night, the Lightning will most likely practice at TD Garden on Friday.

Gagne good to go

Yzerman confirmed that Simon Gagne, who has been practicing with his teammates, should be ready for Game 1.

Pavel Kubina has not been practicing because of a suspected concussion. Yzerman termed Kubina as day-to-day.