Keys to Guy Boucher's success 

May, 25, 2011

The NHL Experts blog is a collaboration of voices from around and inside the game of hockey. With viewpoints ranging from the press box to the front office, the Experts blog will offer unique perspectives through the playoffs to keep readers informed of significant storylines in all aspects of the game.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have largely been defined by a system installed by their head coach, Guy Boucher. By now, you have probably heard of Boucher's innovative 1-3-1 strategy and the success the Lightning have had with it. But in truth, the perception that the Lightning rely on the 1-3-1 at all times is incorrect. From what I've seen in this series against Boston, Tampa has used the 1-3-1 only 15-20 percent of the time.

To think of Boucher as a one-trick pony would be a mistake, and it would seriously understate the magnitude of the man's hockey intelligence and his quest to identify new, successful strategies.

This year's NCAA basketball tournament gave us two examples of coaches with whom Boucher would identify. Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens deployed multiple strategies for their respective teams to win games facing very different challenges and circumstances. This is the essence of coaching: identifying what strategies are being utilized by your opponent and then devising your own set of strategies to counteract and combat your opponent. It is being "chameleon-like," in that you want your team to be adaptive. As games unfold and the rhythms and flows evolve, this quality becomes ever more important.

Smart and Stevens earned glimmering reputations due to this adaptability, and like them Boucher also appears to be on the rise as the hottest young coach in his sport.

Craig Button contributes regularly to ESPN Insider. Since 1988, Button has worked in the NHL as a scout and later as director of scouting with the Minnesota North Stars, becoming director of player personnel after the franchise relocated to Dallas. He later served as vice president and general manager of the Calgary Flames. He currently works as an analyst for the NHL Network.