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Brooks Laich defends Boudreau and the Caps

Very few of the Caps were overly critical of the team's playing style during Friday's exit interviews, but they certainly know the criticism is out there. Brooks Laich was asked explicitly about that critique, and the idea that the Boudreau system just can't work in the postseason.

"I wish I could swear about that right now, but I can't, because that criticism is unjust," Laich said. "Nobody cares about the Capitals more than Bruce. There's no coach in the NHL that's more prepared than Bruce. He's at the rink earlier than any coach, he watches hockey later at night than any coach.

"Any criticism directed toward him should be directed toward us as players. We didn't execute. And none of the blame should be on him. He makes the game so easy for us to play. I can't say enough. Him, Dean Evason, Bob Woods. I've raved about these guys. I've raved about Dean for the five years I've been with him. Bruce, I won a championship with him [in Hershey], so I know that his style can be effective in the postseason. Just the blame falls on us as players, and it should be in no way directed towards any of the coaching staff."

Some of the players did suggest that the effort was somehow lacking in the postseason, and when told this, Laich again strongly disagreed.

"I'm always on the defensive on that," Laich said. "People don't know how much we care about this. So when somebody says that, I kind of take that to heart, and I'll really fight that until the end of the day. Because I believe in our players, I believe in how hard our guys try. You know, Montreal did a good job on us. They did a good job. They were determined, too. And I don't know specifically who that person's talking about or what they saw, but from my standpoint, I competed as hard as I could. You try and win, and when it doesn't go your way, it's really really frustrating."

Laich -- who is flying out Saturday for the world championships in Germany -- also was asked if he wants to see the current group return for another try.

"Absolutely," he said. "It's the oldest cliché ever, but they say sometimes you have to lose to learn to win. This is bitter disappointment, but in no way does it ever shake the belief in our players. I think we have a tremendous group of guys, and I think we are on the right path. We just have to learn things.

"We have to become better, we have to take the next step to become a postseason team. Winning a Presidents' Trophy is one thing, that's a step in the right direction, but now we have to take that even further, and I believe in our players in the locker room, every single one of them. I hope they're all back. Obviously with the salary cap here and unrestricted free agency, that might be tough to get everybody back, but they're good friends and I think they're great professionals, and I enjoy playing alongside them, and I believe in them. So I don't think there's any reason to blow anything up...."

"As a group, our best players are kids. Nicky Backstrom is 21 years old, 22. Alex Ovechkin's 24. Most kids are just getting out of college and still living at their parents' house or something and looking for a summer job at that age. So our young guys are still learning, and they're getting better. The talent and the upside is incredible with these guys. But there are areas where we can improve, and I think this loss is gonna make everybody a lot more motivated, give us a kick in the ass."

Of course, this sounds similar to what was said last year after the loss to the Penguins. Laich was asked this, too: why last year's disappointment wasn't a kick enough, and why the lessons weren't internalized then.

"Well, and it seemed like throughout the year for the most part that we had," Laich said. "After that loss, I remember talking here last year, saying how disappointed I was and how mad I was, and you take that with you. People underestimate how much this stings, and it's because you tried so hard, and it's because you want it so much.

"In the regular season I think we proved that we had learned a little bit from last year, and then unfortunately things didn't go our way in playoffs. But it's tough to sit here and say I've learned a lot from [the Montreal series] already. I have to watch the games, I have to let it sink in, I've got to take some time to really understand what went on and to analyze it from an unemotional point of view. And then you figure out ways to improve."

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 30, 2010; 3:47 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , Media  
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Comments

Different day, same old stuff

Posted by: festus75 | April 30, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Different day, same old stuff

Posted by: festus75 | April 30, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Posting the same thing twice: irony?

Posted by: CrabHands | April 30, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I guess, according to AP, BB doesn't plan to change...
http://www.csnwashington.com/04/30/10/Caps-Have-Lots-Of-Questions-To-Answer/landing_09.html?blockID=226275&feedID=287
After Wednesday's setback, Boudreau bristled at a pointed query about whether the latest disappointment validates criticisms that his team's style of play doesn't work in the playoffs.

"It doesn't validate anything," Boudreau replied. "I think the way we play is the way we were built, and if we had to make all these guys into checkers and play a trap game, I think it would have been a pretty boring team to watch, and we wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful as we were."

Posted by: blackjack65 | April 30, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Interesting quote by Boudreau. I guess the Caps just weren't "built" with guys who should have to dive in front of opposing shots just because it's the playoffs. And, also, since the Caps weren't built to play defense, not being able to slow down Montreal's power play all series was just part of the overall grand strategy. This is all making sense now!

Posted by: bbposter09 | April 30, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Aaaand that's 2/2 for the Pens on the PP....

Posted by: MyPostIDisAfake | April 30, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Caps fans like the ones who have posted here so far make me not want to stop being a Caps fan. Not diving in front of opponents shots and playing bad defense weren't the problem in this series. The problem was the Caps not setting up good shots and instead of throwing pucks randomly at the net in increasing frustration. We didn't give up many goals -- we just didn't convert on offense. Why is this always turned into a discussion of defense?

Posted by: BigMogilny | April 30, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

I hope BB watched the Pens-Habs game tonight.

Posted by: VTDuffman | April 30, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Bruce is a dink.

Posted by: caps1974 | May 1, 2010 1:53 AM | Report abuse

I love Brooksie but the fact is if you cared that much you wouldn't of lost game 5 in the first 7 minutes of the game...

and enough with the "MTL played us well..." are you just going to accept that fact and lose because of it? don't sit back and let another team take it to you, which is what MTL did. And the truth is BB was outcoached by Martin. 9 straight periods of the same damn thing, and it wasn't working. I would think after about 5 periods you would've realized what you were doing was ineffective. FOOL.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 1, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

maybe they can get a defensive coach someone like maybe Glen Hanlon .maybe this loss will knock off some of the Bandwagon fans who want to "blow it up". hey look the Nats won go jump on they need you.a true fan sits through it all.all the glory ,all the heartbreak (and if you live in NC like I do you have pay for NHL center ice to watch the games) .. go ask a Cubs fan.. guess what they might not win it next year or the year after that but it will most likely be the best teams they've ever had.its not like we have a history of winning Stanley Cups. sorry there is no instant gratification for you bandwagon fans .

Posted by: heathdog1119 | May 1, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Montreal's PK is so good, right BB? Well how did Pittsburgh do against the vaunted Habs penalty kill? They were only 4 for 4. Unbelievable

Posted by: mja712 | May 1, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

"It doesn't validate anything," Boudreau replied. "I think the way we play is the way we were built, and if we had to make all these guys into checkers and play a trap game, I think it would have been a pretty boring team to watch, and we wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful as we were."

Boudreau seems to be saying blame McPhee here. Since he was the one who "built" the team. He seems to be suggesting that he is doing the best he can with what he was given. Interesting. One thing I've notice about Boudreau is that he doesn't accept responsibility well. He loves to publicly blame and call out the players. And here he is calling out the GM as well.

Posted by: poguesmahone | May 2, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

"It doesn't validate anything," Boudreau replied. "I think the way we play is the way we were built, and if we had to make all these guys into checkers and play a trap game, I think it would have been a pretty boring team to watch, and we wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful as we were."

Posted by: blackjack65 | April 30, 2010 6:21 PM

You see, that's why the Capitals are going to need a new coach if they want to win. Pretty boring wins Cups. Do you think for a second these players...who desperately want to win a Cup...wouldn't play the Trap if it gave them the best chance to win?
You don't have to play the trap to win a title, but you do have to occasionally try something different if you get shut down playing the up-tempo style of play. Bruce might get prepared, but he easily got outcoached in this series. He got outcoached in the Flyers series, and in the Rangers series. It took Boudreau 4 games to figure out what the Flyers were doing and make appropriate adjustments. When that actually worked, he went right back to Boudreau hockey in Game 7. How did that work out?

Teams do a game plan against the Caps and they don't have to change too much because the Caps don't change much. Boudreau's system is wonderful in the regular season, where teams don't have much opportunity to rigorously examine what a team does. It's terrible in the post season where a team can fine tune themselves to stop what you do over a sequence of games. Boudreau hasn't figured that out yet, and I don't think he ever will.

Posted by: pga6 | May 2, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

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