Pothier, Boudreau on Ovechkin's captaincy
Since Alex Ovechkin became the Caps' captain, his team has gone 14-1. In 13 of those games, the Caps have scored at least four goals. They're sort of doing ok. And yet Bruce Boudreau initially sort of rolled his eyes when asked about Ovechkin and the captaincy, saying that the media were making too big a deal about this whole thing.
Brian Pothier was asked the same question during an appearance on NHL Live Wednesday afternoon, and he played along.
"Well, if it's possible to have Ovi be any more confident, I think he is, because of it," Pothier said. "He's the best player on planet earth as far as I'm concerned. It was just inevitable for us to have that letter on his jersey. For us, he's our driving force, and when he goes, we go. The nice thing recently is if he's off one night, we're having the secondary scoring to lift him or lift the team to the win."
The hosts then asked if Ovechkin has become a more vocal leader since earning the C, and Pothier said he hasn't.
"He hasn't done anything different," Pothier said. "We all knew that and he said it, he said, 'Hey listen, I'm Ovi, I do what I do. You guys know what I do, I leave it all on the ice.'...It's just about him going out and sacrificing his body and doing everything he does on the ice. He's definitely a leader by example and his energy is contagious, too. Like I said, it's a no-brainer for us that he's our guy."
But in a later appearance on Toronto's The Fan 590, Boudreau indicated that Ovi has gotten more vocal in at least one way.
"He hasn't changed anything, except maybe he's back-checking a little bit more, which is always a great
site sight," Boudreau said. "Even at the fathers' dinner the other day, he stood up for the first time and made a speech welcoming the dads. I thought that was really neat of him."
(Yes, I've now transitioned into transcribing hockey radio interviews full-time. Just wait until the spring, Nats fans; I'll transcribe your radio interviews too!)
As for Boudreau, Pothier had strong praise for the coach.
"He's absolutely consumed with winning, and he passes it on to the guys," Pothier said. "I think the best thing I can say about our coach is a lot of teams I've been on in the past, it's been management and coaches, and then the players. But he has a whole different philosophy where he's part of our group. We're all on the same ship. It's not us vs. them, it's just one big team."
Pothier was asked about Boudreau's philosophy toward road curfews, which is something I don't think I've heard these players discuss.
"He doesn't enforce anything, and we do a really good job of not abusing it," Pothier said. "We have a common goal, we want to make sure that we're well rested and in shape for the game. He's not sitting in the lobby at 11:30 every night, but I don't think he needs to, because we understand what we need to do."
The final question was the unanswerable sort, about whether this Caps team can transition into a unit that wins 1-0 or 2-1 grinds in the postseason. And Pothier--one of the two best quotes in that dressing room--was honest.
"I think that's probably the question that everybody's gonna be asking about us," Pothier said. "I think if our goalies are as good as they have been--like Theo last night was, amazing--if we can play good team defense, and again, when I was talking about that maturing process in the playoffs, I think this is exactly what I was talking about. Over the last three series that we've had, we've had to learn how to play those games and not win the 6-5 games, but the 2-1 games....As a group, we're understanding when to go 1-on-1 and when to make a smart dump. It's just a maturing process and I think we're well on our way and I think we're starting to understand what it takes to win in the playoffs. Obviously we won't know until we get into it this year, but hopefully we've learned our lesson."
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