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Danault: 'We have to get our confidence back' on the penalty kill

The Canadiens must turn things around when they're down a man, and that was the primary focus of Friday's practice

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - The Canadiens' penalty killing numbers so far this season really do speak for themselves.

Simply put, they aren't where they're supposed to be.

Through 10 games, Claude Julien's contingent ranks 30th in the League in short-handed situations with a 67.7% efficiency rating.

Only the Winnipeg Jets have been worse in that department during the 2019-20 campaign.

After watching his group surrender a pair of power play goals in the loss to the Sharks, the veteran bench boss was committed to righting the ship at practice on Friday ahead of a big matchup with the Maple Leafs.

And it's safe to say that Julien's troops received his message loud and clear.

"We've looked at clips and goals that we're getting scored on. It's not mistakes related to the system, it's mistakes that we're doing. We're allowing the seam passes where we should have a guy in that lane," acknowledged defenseman Jeff Petry. "It's something that the players in here, we know now, we saw the video, we know what we have to do. Now, it's just a matter of going out there and executing."

Video: Jeff Petry on improving the penalty kill

Cutting off those pesky feeds isn't the only way the Canadiens' penalty killing units are going to shut down the opposition when they find themselves in penalty trouble, though.

There's a lot more to it than that, according to Petry, who has logged the fourth-most minutes of any Habs player under those circumstances on the year.

"We have to be stubborn on entries, not give them the zone and force them to dump it in. Once they do dump it in, I think we have to be aggressive until they get into their setup. And then once it's there, we all know our roles and what we need to do," explained the 10-year NHL veteran. "Then, it's a matter of trusting the other guys around that if you're doing your job, that everyone else around you is going to do theirs. I think it'll tighten things up."

Petry stressed that Friday's on-ice session wasn't about adding new penalty killing tactics to the mix. The focus instead was on attention to detail.

"It's not new ideas. It's the same message we've discussed. The system's in place. We've seen that when we do it well, it works - and when we kind of step away from that or when we're not in the right position, we're getting scored on," mentioned Petry. "It's just a matter of making sure everyone's in the correct position, and that we're all on the same page."

Like Petry, Phillip Danault emphasized the importance of every penalty killer focusing solely on handling their respective tasks.

"I think we're trying to do too much and handle each other's jobs. We have to focus on our assignments. They're small details that will make us better. Everyone has to do their job and it will help," insisted Danault, the Canadiens' most-utilized forward when the squad is down a man. "We have to get our confidence back when we're short-handed. We're the same group of players as last year, so it's just a question of confidence. But, everyone has to participate."

Video: Claude Julien's press conference

No doubt the Maple Leafs will put their Atlantic Division rivals to the test should they head to the power play with snipers aplenty in their lineup.

The Habs, of course, are well aware of the firepower they'd be facing from Toronto if players spend time in the penalty box.

"They have a good power play over there. It's a chance for us to show that we're all back on the same page and know what we need to do," said Petry. "We obviously don't want to take a lot of penalties against them, and the ones that we do take, we have to be strong and put into place what we worked on and what we discussed."

Julien believes his players can do just that.

"It's frustrating, but it's something we can correct. That's what we tried to do. I'm confident that we'll improve that aspect of our game," said Julien. "It's a question of everyone doing their job, and doing it the right way."

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