Sunday, January 2, 2011

Washington Capitals Coach and Player Comments After the 2011 Winter Classic

Washington Coach Bruce Boudreau

Q. Eric Fehr has been a healthy scratch a couple times the past two, three weeks. What did you think of him tonight?

COACH BOUDREAU: What can I say? I thought he played a real good game. And he finally got rewarded by doing the things that we know he's capable of doing. And then he gets two goals. And that's big, obviously.

Q. Are you and maybe the players, do you think, looking forward now to putting this month behind you with the HBO stuff and the buildup to this game?

COACH BOUDREAU: We kind of like them now. I mean, we didn't like them much at the beginning of the month, but I think everything's worked out.

Q. With the rain and all the other elements, did you get any sense how difficult it was for the players out there, for the ice players or for Semyon Varlamov?

COACH BOUDREAU: No. It was the same for both teams. I know the puck was bouncing a lot. It wasn't sticking on the ice which is what I thought it would do if it got wet. But it wasn't sticking.

So I was hoping they'd call it on account of rain in the third. But it ended up okay for us. So I'm happy.

Q. Did you have to change your strategy at all; seemed like you were chipping in a little more and maybe not playing more simple than usual?

COACH BOUDREAU: George talked to me yesterday about it. We thought it was just going to be a grind?it?out game, because after we were on the ice yesterday, it didn't look like the ice conditions would be great. So we knew the fancy tic?tac?toe stuff wasn't going to work.

So we knew we had to dump it in, and we had to win the game below the circles. And I thought we did a real good job of that.

Q. Bruce, I asked Eric and Alex, but your thoughts: You walk into Pittsburgh here, had a tough month, 65,000 fans. Talk about this win and what it can mean going forward.

COACH BOUDREAU: That's just two points. It was pretty cool. Like, when you walk and you see those people in there and whether they're booing or cheering, it's an experience I'll never forget. And when you come into this kind of atmosphere and you're playing arguably the best team in the league and you win, it was more than just a game to everybody.

And don't let anybody fool you. It was a game that we wanted to show people that have never played hockey or watched hockey how good it could be, how exciting it could be. The passion on the guys' faces when they scored a goal was totally genuine.

I thought it was a real good game for the growth of the game. And I hope it does grow because of this. And for us, it was a month?long buildup where it didn't start out very good at all. But we were ? this is like as close to the Stanley Cup as we've gotten.

And we're not denying that it was more than just two points. It was a fabulous game. And we came in wanting to win this thing. We got lucky and we won it.

Q. Varly's play in maybe one of the biggest games of his career and your thoughts about what you hope it brings for him?

COACH BOUDREAU: It shows that he can play in pressure situations. And he sort of just took it mentally on him that he wasn't going to allow anything. He's in pretty good zone right now shutting out Montreal the last game.

But he's making a great case this week for being the No. 1 goalie. Who knows what can happen next week. I'm sure Neuvy will get a chance. Before he got hurt he was doing the same thing.

So this competition is going to stay together, you know, I'm sure unless something drastic happens to the last 10 games of the season.

Q. I'm going to ask you about Alex. I know he didn't score. But because of who he is...

COACH BOUDREAU: He did score. Just didn't get credit for a goal.

Q. He is who he is, and he looked like he was having the greatest time tonight. Pumping his fist and waving to the crowd. Describe what you saw from your captain.

COACH BOUDREAU: He's a team like player. A lot of people are making a lot of big things out of the goals. He's never once come to me and worried about his goal production. He says win ? if you've watched the HBO stuff, every time we score he's the first guy on the ice cheering and he's happy for the team.

And today was the culmination of a lot of scrutiny for a month and it didn't matter if he scored. He was part of a winning team.

Like there's a couple times he didn't get it deep and he's the first one coming to the bench going: I know, I know, I'm sorry. And he wants to do better. And you watch later on in the game he was doing whatever it took to win as a team.

I mean, long ago ? and last summer ? he said he didn't care about numbers, what he cares about is winning. I truly believe that and he'll be just as happy if he gets 45 goals or 40 goals and he wins something in April, May and June as if he got 70 goals and had any individual award.

And that's what captains are all about. And he doesn't get enough credit for it, but he deserves it.

Q. Did they consult you at all about switching ends and was that necessary?

COACH BOUDREAU: Initially, before the game, they weren't going to. But it was dictated, Colin was talking about if the weather dictates it we need to, then we will. And evidently the wind was picking up and I mean there was no marks in their zone in the third period. So we switched it, which it worked out.

Alexander Ovechkin and Eric Fehr

Q. Eric, obviously a big night for you, two goals. Can you just talk about what happened on both of them?

ERIC FEHR: The first one I think Johansson turned the puck over behind the net and I just went in front and got a good pass and was able to put it in. The second one, I saw Chimer had the puck and the D was stepping up, so I just tried to go for a rush and Chimer made a good pass.

Q. Alex, it played out pretty good on TV. It was a really good look, prime time game. Was it as magnificent to play in as it was to watch?

ALEX OVECHKIN: I think both teams were just so excited, and it was pretty fun. The first period was good weather. The second period was a little bit of rain, and third period was lots of rain. So it was kind of ? weather changed all the time and we handled it, and it was a pretty good game.

Q. Eric, this was sort of billed as a match of superstars with Ovie and Sid. Were you happy to be one of the lesser lights to put your stamp on the game?

ERIC FEHR: I was definitely happy I could score. That's for sure. I felt good. The first one felt unbelievable. But we had a good lead going in the third there. We just wanted to play defense, and fortunately I was able to get that second one. But we weren't really trying to go for offense at that point.

Q. For both of you, how important was it to keep things simple with the rain? And sort of talk about how that's what you guys have been focusing on lately, too?

ALEX OVECHKIN: Well, when we get the lead, I think the whole team was concentrating, getting the puck to the deep and play more defensive. And "O" line did a great job. We had the puck, crossed the red line, get the puck in deep. If we have a chance to go on the attack, we make a simple play and you see when Fehr scored the second goal, it was tic?tac?toe. Chimer, he's pretty good wrist shot guy.

ERIC FEHR: It was just important for us to try to get every puck deep. As you could see, pucks were bouncing everywhere. Sometimes they're sticking on the ice. You didn't want to lose the puck at the wrong time, just making sure pucks were getting out of the zone. It was really tough to make any passes out there.

Q. Talk about this win. It's been a tough month. You've walked into Pittsburgh, 65,000 fans. Talk about what this win will do for you, maybe springboard you in the second half?

ALEX OVECHKIN: You can see, you can hear when we score goals how many people was fans of Washington. I can see a thousand people in one spot, a thousand people upstairs, it was really unbelievable. When it was the National Anthem, and they are screaming, like it was unbelievable. And the fans support us all over the place. So it's good.

ERIC FEHR: It was a tough start to the HBO series. We' were in a bit of a losing streak, but I think it finished well for us, so we're pretty happy with it.

Q. Eric, talk about Semyon Varlamov. I think the conditions were probably the worst for the goalies, but seemed like he had a pretty good night.

ERIC FEHR: He played really well. Seemed like he was seeing the pucks. You could tell they were trying to get traffic in front. Our defense did a really good job of boxing out and giving him an opportunity to see most of the shots.

Q. Eric, can you talk about the vibe coming out under the lights, the big crowd, just what it was like?

ERIC FEHR: It felt unbelievable. The first time we came out for the first period there, the fans were loud and it was just everything you kind of dreamed of. It was a perfect night. Nice and dark outside, with the lights, it was great.

Q. Alex, I was going to ask a similar question. You talked the other night how you might be nervous, might be shaking a little bit. How did you feel when you walked out there, saw what was out there?

ALEX OVECHKIN: It was one of the best feelings in my life. Again, when you see it's sold out, it's like I can't imagine when football players play every game like this. It's unbelievable.

And it's kind of the thing, what you want to do all the time. Go out and play like this all the time.

And your family watching, your friends. And a million people watching you. When you get success, you get two points, you get excited and you just feel good about yourself and about your team.

More Later...

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