On Wednesday, Bruce Boudreau’s benching of Alex Ovechkin, or whatever you want to call it, was the second story on PTI. Regular-season hockey personnel decisions are not often the second story on PTI in early-November.
The incident was all over D.C. sports blogs, and D.C. sports talk radio, and national hockey Web sites, which wasn’t terribly surprising to me, even if some fans tried to argue that the whole thing was no big deal.
Well, Bruce Boudreau evidently didn’t expect the reaction.
”It caught me totally by surprise, because I wasn’t thinking of anything other than who could we put on the ice to win the game,” Boudreau said. “That was my only thought. So it did catch me a little bit by surprise, because I never would have thought it would have garnished that much attention.
“Like I’ve said in the past, 99.9 percent of the time Alex is the first guy I even think of. If you look at all my notes, even for that game, when I’ve drawn up a play quite frankly, he’s the one that’s on it. But it’s a different story sometimes at the time that it’s happening, and I just felt that other line was playing so good offensively.
“Usually they’re the checking line, but I’ve seen it over all my years — sometimes a line is going so well that they just feel that they’re going to do something. And it was a hunch, and I’ve had an awful lot of hunches that never work, so I threw them out and we got lucky.”
Earlier this week, Boudreau also seemed to suggest that the decision might have sent a message to Ovechkin, but on Thursday, he said that Ovechkin was never even benched.
We “moved on, like, the second it was done,” the coach said. “It was never a benching. Just to get this straight here: a benching is when you deliberately sit a guy out and don’t play him. I just put different guys on the ice. That was that. I mean, I just put the guys on the ice that I thought were gonna score in that moment. In the overtime, Ovi went on when he always goes on in the overtime, and he helped set up Nicky’s overtime goal, so nothing had changed. I mean, the media made it a much bigger thing than I thought it was gonna be.”