MONTREAL – There was no sugarcoating or excuse-making going on in the Canadiens dressing room after Tuesday’s loss but there weren’t any white flags waving, either.
Heading into Tuesday’s game against the Stars, the Habs were six points out of a playoff spot with 21 games left to play. Thanks to a few timely losses by some of the competition directly above them in the Eastern Conference standings, the Canadiens realized how different the race for the postseason would look on Wednesday morning if they could put up another two points against Dallas. That’s what made the 3-0 loss to the Stars so tough to swallow.
“We definitely see what’s going on around the league. We see who’s winning and we see who’s losing,” admitted Ryan White, who threw four hits in his fourth game back from surgery. “At the end of the day it comes down to us in here and what we’re doing. Tonight wasn’t good enough. We need a better effort and we need to find ways to win. That’s what good teams do.”
Instead of waking up five points out of eighth, the Canadiens are now sitting seven points back of a berth in 14th place in the East. Despite the steep mountain they’ll have to climb to make it into the Top 8, with nearly a quarter of the season still to be played, the Habs are far from ready to throw in the towel.
“I don’t think it’s spiraling out of control because we’re still in a position to do something about it,” stressed seven-year NHL veteran Chris Campoli. “There’s no doubt it’s frustrating and it’s the same things we’re talking about over and over again: we’re just not executing. At this level you’re expected to do that every night and we need more.”
Currently first – or more accurately, last – in the league with 296 total man games lost to injury, the Habs had nine players currently in their first or second NHL seasons in the lineup against the Stars. With a handful of veterans, including Brian Gionta, Travis Moen and Andrei Markov among others, already sidelined with injuries, Tomas Plekanec joined his teammates in the clinic on Tuesday, suffering from the flu.
According to Randy Cunneyworth, eight of his players were battling illnesses during the game, including Mathieu Darche who left the game in the third period due to dizziness. Not ready to use that as an excuse, White would prefer his team use the adversity as a rallying point.
“It’s never fun when you’re losing, that’s for sure. But I don’t think we’re coming apart at the seams here, if that’s what you’re asking,” confirmed White, who played a career-high 17:24 in the outing. “The big thing for us is to stick together. There’s a lot of hockey left and there are a lot of points we can make up. It’s just frustrating when we come out for a game like that and we don’t get the effort we need and we don’t get the whole team going the same way. The bottom line is – myself included – we need to be better.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.comSEE ALSO:Comments: White
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