Ducharme: 'The results will come'
The interim head coach of the Canadiens appreciates the progress he's seeing since taking over behind the benchby Pierre-Antoine Mercier. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski. @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com
BROSSARD - Dominique Ducharme returned from the Canadiens' four-game road trip with a brand new role.
The 47-year-old set foot on Montreal soil on Sunday for the first time as the interim head coach, and immediately took stock of everything that has transpired since February 24 when he took the reigns.
After leading his first practice at the Bell Sports Complex, Ducharme described his emotions.
"When we got back to Montreal, I realized just how quickly things can change in hockey," said the Joliette native. "I left on the road with the team and I came back as the head coach. It's special. Things have definitely changed for me, but also for members of my family."
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With the Canadiens on home turf for three games this week, Ducharme will quickly realize the true magnitude of his promotion. Given the popularity of the club in Quebec, every single one of his moves will likely be scrutinized by millions of fans.
Fortunately, Ducharme already has a good feel for the pressure that comes with coaching in Montreal.
"I knew about that. I grew up a Canadiens fan. I knew the day that I was named the interim head coach that I would have about eight million assistant coaches alongside me," mentioned Ducharme with a laugh. "It's fine. That's passion. It's one of the reasons why it's special to play in Montreal, that passion from the fans for the Canadiens."
Video: Dominique Ducharme on the Canadiens' progress
Since Ducharme assumed the top job, the Canadiens dropped back-to-back games to the Winnipeg Jets. Nevertheless, Ducharme's troops delivered a far better performance in the second contest when they were edged 2-1 in overtime.
Montreal dominated the play with a 41-21 shot advantage, and if it wasn't for the outstanding play of Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, Ducharme likely would've collected his first victory as an NHL head coach.
But, the 2013 Memorial Cup champion with the Halifax Mooseheads believes that it's just a matter of time until the Habs get back in the win column on a consistent basis.
"I like the way the players are receptive. They want to work. I'm happy with our progress," mentioned Ducharme, during Monday's press conference on the South Shore. "I think we're heading in the right direction. The results will come."
The Canadiens are winless in their last five games, having secured their most recent victory on February 13 against the Maple Leafs.
The players, however, insist they can learn a lot from this tough stretch.
"We're a team that's going through some adversity right now. I honestly think that it could be a good thing. It's good to experience adversity. It makes you a stronger team down the line," explained defenseman Joel Edmundson. "It starts with a big game tomorrow against Ottawa. We want to walk away with two points and just build off that. We've been in a slump, but as long as we're learning from it and getting better every day, which I think we are right now, it could be a good thing in the long run."
Video: Joel Edmundson on Dominique Ducharme's adjustments
Romanov is progressing
Rookie defenseman Alexander Romanov delivered a notable performance over the weekend. The 21-year-old Russian logged 17:20 of ice time, while registering a season-high four shots on goal versus Winnipeg.
Interestingly enough, the Canadiens fired nine shots on Hellebuyck when Romanov was on the ice and gave up just one shot on goaltender Jake Allen.
That means that they controlled 90% of the shots when the former second-round selection (38th overall) in 2018 was at work.
Forward Jonathan Drouin praised the young rearguard on Monday.
"People sometimes forget that he just came over from Russia. This isn't his culture and he doesn't eat the same things back home. He's dealing with a lot of new things around him. There will always be some adaptation. He'll start to understand the language better over time. He isn't 100 percent fluent just yet, so we have to give him a chance to adapt," explained Drouin. "But, in the future, I see him having excellent skating ability. He's always on the move and he makes great first passes. He can even see from our zone if the forwards can beat the opposing team's defenders. He's a very intelligent defenseman, but we have to give him time to adapt. He'll get a better sense of our systems, too. We have to be patient with a player like that, but he has huge potential."
In 19 games this season, Romanov has one goal and five points.
The Canadiens will battle the Senators on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.