Boucher rallies his troops/By S. Bradley

BOSTON — We joked all through the Eastern Conference Final about Tampa Bay head coach Guy Boucher being an “evil genius.”

While some elements of that might be true, he proved after his team’s 1-0 loss last night that he’s not only human, but he’s a classy human.

When asked about the Bruins’ chances against Vancouver, Boucher proved that his kind words about Boston during the series weren’t just part of his master plan to butter up his opponent.

“You know what, both teams that make it there, to me they’re on equal grounds. One thing’s for sure, they’re very well coached,” Boucher said. “I know Claude [Julien]. I coached against him in junior. He’s always done a very good job, and was always very happy for his success in the past. Obviously not tonight.

“But he moves on, you know? You know, if there’s somebody that’s going to beat us, you know, there’s one guy that I hope he gets success.

“I think the team they put on the ice, the depth is just tremendous. When you look at the players that they put together and the goaltender — he’s up for the Vezina. He’s outstanding. We just couldn’t put one in. He was outstanding all year.

“[They've] got great defensemen, four-line depth that can come at you, and non-stop. You’ve got guys who can put the puck in the net and defend. I mean, obviously they got it all.

“And they’ve been at this for a few years now, coming close and coming close and coming close. And I think that’s something we can take from. It’s been a long time that this team hasn’t been as far in the playoffs.

“And we have to learn from this. We have to be proud of our players. They put everything on the ice, but at the same time I think it’s a moment to learn. And what the Bruins have done, it gives you hope for the future, definitely.

“You failed three times in a row, to make it happen now, and credit to them. Credit to them.”