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Chiarot: 'Carey is the most important player in this franchise'

Habs defenseman comes to the star goaltender's defense the day after a bruising defeat against Boston

by Pierre-Antoine Mercier, translated by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - Carey Price was the first player to step onto the ice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday.

After getting yanked for the first time in 112 games, the 32-year-old got to work before his teammates with goaltending coach Stephane Waite.

Price gave up the crease in favor of Keith Kinkaid after allowing five goals on 11 shots against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

And following a fifth straight loss for Montreal, blue-liner Ben Chiarot wasted no time coming to the defense of his goalie.

"It's terrible. It's more a sign that what we're doing in front of him wasn't good enough. He's going to stop the pucks he sees. We were giving up chances - one-timers, backdoor. It doesn't matter if it's Carey Price or any other goaltender, they're not going to make those saves," explained Chiarot of his team's performance against their archrivals. "You know it's not a good night for the team when Carey has to come out of the net."

Video: Ben Chiarot on Carey Price

Just like his team, Price has struggled the past few games, posting a 5.42 goals-against average and .811 save percentage during the difficult stretch.

The star netminder endured similar hardships at around the same time last year, putting together a 3-5-2 record, 3.81 goals-against average, and .886 save percentage in November 2018.

The Anahim Lake, BC native heard it from fans at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night, too. But his fellow Habs made a point of showing their support following practice on the South Shore.

"He's the best goalie in the world and they've had him here for a long time. They're used to having outstanding performances every night from him," outlined Chiarot of Price. "We're lucky we have him on our team. He's the most important player in this franchise. He's great for us every night; we'll have his back every night."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Here are the forward lines and defensive pairings from Wednesday���s practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.#GoHabsGo

Deja-vu all over again

Through 24 games this season, Claude Julien's troops hold an 11-8-5 record, identical to last year's.

The Canadiens also went through a rough patch from November 19-27, 2018, suffering five straight losses to Washington, New Jersey, Buffalo, Boston, and Carolina.

The Habs' head coach recognizes that his squad needs to put a stop to the slide - and fast

"We've lost five in a row. It's as frustrating for us as it is for the fans. We're aware of the situation, but it's not because of a lack of effort. Our hearts are in the right place," shared Julien during his post-practice press conference. "We want to do a good job, but sometimes, we're not doing it in the right way. That's what's been costing us games."

The Canadiens know that the situation is far from a pleasant one right now, not only within the confines of the locker room, but for fans of the bleu-blanc-rouge, too.

"We play for a franchise and a city that take a lot of pride in having a good team. We take that very seriously," expressed Chiarot, who has three goals for 10 points this season.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Gros entra��nement, ce matin.Big practice today.#GoHabsGo

According to the six-year veteran, it's all a matter of confidence.

"We have to keep working hard. A team's confidence is very similar to that of an individual. When you're confident, everything seems to work. But when you lose that confidence, you start feeling like you aren't doing anything right," described Chiarot. "We have to get back to basics and do the little things right that got us success. Every play has to do his part, and we have to regroup as a team."

Despite not enjoying a win in their last five games, the Canadiens are still hanging on to third place in the Atlantic Division.

If Montreal wants to hold onto its playoff spot, Julien's squad will have to get back on track as quickly as possible.

"This is not a League where you can lose that many games in a row. I think we're still in a good spot," said Tomas Tatar, who leads the Canadiens with seven goals and 21 points this season. "We have to relax and play with confidence. We just have to start a winning streak instead of a losing one."

Video: Tomas Tatar on limiting mistakes

The Canadiens get back to action on Thursday night when they welcome the New Jersey Devils to the Bell Centre.

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