MONTREAL – The Habs are looking to deliver an emotional performance Saturday night, and what better way to bring that out than a showdown with the Leafs.
Despite still hunting for their first home win of 2011-12, the Canadiens are aware that they did a lot of things right in their last two Bell Centre outings. Back home to face the Maple Leafs for a classic Saturday night rivalry, head coach Jacques Martin hopes to see his team continue to play with passion in front of their home crowd.
“The Leafs are a team that’s enjoyed a good start to their season, with players like Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul playing well for them offensively which is why we need to have an effort like we did in our last two home games,” explained Martin, whose team put a combined 84 shots on goal against the Sabres and Avalanche.
“We played with a lot of emotion and passion in those games against Buffalo and Colorado. We worked hard, created a lot of scoring chances and had strong performances,” continued Martin. “We want to come out and play with that same kind of energy tonight versus the Leafs.”
The points may not have stacked up for the Habs so far and while it’s certain that fans will be clamoring for a win against their division rivals, no one wants to make that a reality more than the Canadiens themselves.
“No matter what team you play for, if you’re in the position that we’re in right now, you’re not happy. It doesn’t matter if you play for Montreal or you play for Florida – you go out to win every night,” expressed Habs sophomore Lars Eller who practiced Thursday on a line with Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen. “We know that we’ve got a fan base that has a huge hunger to win games and when we don’t, people start asking questions, and I certainly don’t have a problem with that. We want to win more than anyone and we’re trying our very best to make that happen.”
With the Habs’ head coach recently falling under fire for the Canadiens slow start to the season, Michael Cammalleri was quick to come to his defense of Saturday morning.
“We know a lot of people care about the performance of this club, but as far as singling out Jacques as the reason for us not winning these games – it’s unjust and unfair,” said Cammalleri who will play in his 500th NHL game against the Leafs. “The responsibility of winning and losing has to be shared by the both the coaching staff and the team of this organization because it’s too much of a burden for anyone to have to carry by themselves. We all need to do a better job so we can all be successful.”
“One thing about markets like the two teams playing tonight are in is that things can change quickly," added Cammalleri. "You win a few in a row and all that negative noise can turn positive pretty fast.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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