It’s a fine line a coach draws when they speak to the media about the actions of opposing players. For Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, he tossed all regard for that line out the window today when speaking about the Caps opponents tonight, their rivals in the Southeast Division, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Boudreau addressed reporters today and had a few choice words for Lightning superstar Steve Stamkos as well as agitator extraordinaire Steve Downie. Erik Erlendsson of Tampa Bay Online gets word from Boudreau that he thinks there’s a bit more embellishment going on in each of their games.
When asked about the rivalry that has built up between the teams this season, Boudreau accused Tampa Bay’s players – specifically naming two – of embellishing calls in an attempt to earn penalty calls.
“With Steve Downie, if I were a referee I would never give a call when he’s out on the ice,” Boudreau said. “Stamkos, he dives every two seconds. Downie, he dives every two seconds, so you see that and you start to get a little hatred on.”
Is it gamesmanship from Boudreau or is it prime bulletin board material for the Lightning? It’s both.
Boudreau obviously wants to see a few more calls go his team’s way but lighting a fire under the Lightning and specifically Stamkos might not be the greatest idea. Stamkos has been without a goal in five straight games and without a point in his last four. That kind of lull doesn’t stay that way for a long time when you’re one of the premiere forwards in the NHL and getting a player like that even more focused is dangerous to do.
Unfortunately for Boudreau, Downie won’t be playing tonight as he’s out with an injury which puts the focus squarely on Stamkos for what he said. As for Lightning coach Guy Boucher, the way he sees things with Boudreau is pretty obvious to him. More from Erlendsson:
“I’m not going to try to get an edge off ice, I’m not going to try to do that, I’m going to let the guys play and I believe that our players and their players, they fight with everything they’ve got. I have more respect for the players than just to say their players or our players dive or whatever,” Boucher said.
That’s as artful of a parry as you’ll see when it comes to a war of words between coaches and Boucher keeping a stiff upper lip on this one reflects better upon him. Stamkos isn’t exactly regarded through the eyes of fans and observers as a diver so Boudreau’s accusation seems to come out of nowhere. It’s also a bit curious that Boudreau would call him out when he’s got Alexander Semin on his roster, a guy who’s been known to take a poetic fall or two in his career.
The real upside to all this verbal jousting is that perhaps, finally, we’ve got ourselves a tried and true rivalry in the Southeast Division. With the Capitals and Lightning set to battle the rest of the way for the division title, adding some heat to their games is a great thing to see. Of course, if the Caps can figure out a way to score on Dwayne Roloson they’ll have a bit more to work with against the Lightning apart from snarky words from their head coach.