With only 1:27 left in the third period and losing 4-3 to the Ducks; Washington Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau calls a timeout and draws up a play in an attempt to score a goal and to salvage the game. Naturally, one would think that Boudreau’s tactics would involve the “Great Eight”; Alexander Ovechkin, who is one the most prolific goal scorers in the NHL, but this was not the case.
Ovi was benched in favour of Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Chimera and Brooks Laich. Of course, Ovi wasn’t too pleased about being benched and his disapproval of Boudreau’s decision to bench him could be seen right on camera (It doesn’t take a professional lip reader to interpret what Ovechkin had to say). Regardless, with a fuming Ovi on the bench, the Capitals slid one by Movember Masked Man Jonas Hiller to tie the game at 4’s and forced overtime. During the overtime frame, Backstrom sniped his second of the game and the Caps stole the two points from the Ducks.
There’s no doubt that the game was amazing, but the main storyline behind the game was Boudreau’s decision to bench the franchise player in the most crucial point of the game. Now most coaches wouldn’t have thought twice and would’ve put their star player on the ice regardless, but Boudreau didn’t. Boudreau went with his gut instinct which told led him to put the Backstrom, Laich and Chimera combo on. Boudreau even admitted that 99% of the time, he would’ve had Ovi out there, but he played the hunch and his hunch played off. In a time where elite calibre players dictate the moves of their coaches, it was refreshing to see a coach put his foot down and cater to the interests of the team as a whole, rather than appease a single individual.
Most cynics will argue that if Backstrom didn’t score the goal to send it to overtime then Boudreau would be on the hot seat, which I must agree, is probably true. However, the reality of the situation is that the Capitals did score, they did win, and Ovechkin was not needed to send the game to the extra frame. The Capitals won the game due to Bruce Boudreau who lived up to Machiavelli’s famous quote “the ends justify the means”.
For that I say; Bravo Bruce Boudreau.