Bruce Boudreau and Barry Trotz have heard the rap for their entire NHL coaching careers. They both realize they've been labeled as outstanding regular-season tacticians who just can't lead teams deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
On the brink of their first career trips to the conference finals, Boudreau and Trotz would rather talk about almost anything else than the personal milestone tantalizingly in their grasp.
``I try not to think about it,'' Boudreau said Saturday. ``I'm just trying to think about (Sunday), because if it goes successfully, everything will take care of itself.''
Boudreau's Anaheim Ducks could eliminate the Calgary Flames in Game 5 tonight to reach their first Western Conference final since 2007.
A few hours earlier, Trotz's Washington Capitals also will be on home ice for their second shot at knocking out the New York Rangers in Game 6 and earning a trip to their first conference finals since 1998.
Few coaches in NHL history have won more often in the regular season than Boudreau has done with Washington and Anaheim, while Trotz had a remarkable 15-season run in Nashville before moving to the Capitals this season.
Yet for all their consistent excellence during the winter, Boudreau has won just four spring playoff rounds in seven trips, while Trotz won just two rounds in his entire tenure with the Predators.
Boudreau has won seven division titles and a Presidents' Trophy in just eight seasons behind an NHL bench, but these Ducks might be his best team yet. Anaheim is 7-1 in the postseason after its 4-2 victory at Calgary in Game 4, putting its deep, balanced roster on the brink of another advancement.
Not that Boudreau is thinking about vindication.
``It's probably trying to get in there, but I won't let it,'' Boudreau said. ``I just don't want to think about it. The last three games have been so tough that the minute you start thinking about putting the cart before the horses, you're in trouble. We've got a very tough opponent that will be very motivated tomorrow.''
So do the Capitals, who nearly finished off the Rangers in Game 5 on Friday before the defending conference champions tied it with 101 seconds left and then won 2-1 in overtime. Neither team has time to change much in a tense series.
``I think guys understand that (when) you lose a game, it's sort of the playoff mentality (that) you let it go, and you figure out what you've got to do for next game,'' Trotz said. ``It's a simple formula, but it's a mindset you have to have.''