While we saw our fair share of verbal jousting in the first round between the Flyers and Sabres regarding a bunch of different things, it’s rare to see a coach’s absolute brute honesty be a source of intrigue.
Such is the case with Lightning coach Guy Boucher in talking about the Washington Capitals. With the Lightning coming into the series as the fifth seed and the Capitals as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, it’s only right and natural to think of the Capitals as the favorites. After all, the Lightning blew their lead in the Southeast Division and the Capitals roared away in the second half of the year to win the division title.
Boucher spoke openly and honestly today about what he thought of the Capitals and how the series shapes up. Greg Schimmel of The Washington Post gets the straight truth from Boucher.
“It’s going to be very, very difficult for us, but we’re up for the challenge,” Boucher said. “I think that’s the idea, is either we see it as a threat or we see it as a challenge and it’s a great challenge for us. And I’m sure it is for them. I know that if they lose this, for them it’s a huge failure. So there’s a lot of pressure, but at the same time comes a lot of energy with pressure. So we’re aware that they’re going to be charging out there.”
Backhanded compliments are the most fun to read. Yes, the Capitals do have a ton of pressure on them to win. They’ve been the top seed in the East two years in a row and when you’re the top team, you’re expected to make the Stanley Cup final. It also puts the focus squarely on Bruce Boudreau to keep up with Boucher and what he does to help his team try to knock off his top seeded Caps.
While there’s hope for the Lightning to make the Eastern final, there are expectations in Washington that they’ll get there and beyond. Boucher isn’t stirring up any drama by coming right out and saying it so much as he’s pointing at and yelling about the elephant in the room.
The Lightning have exceeded expectations this season by leaps and bounds and getting the chance to knock off the Caps and make their offseason a really difficult one is a role they should relish. They’ve done it to Pittsburgh already and giving it to their divisional rivals would make things that much sweeter.