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Feeling trapped

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – There weren’t many people at the Bell Centre surprised by the way the Devils played on Sunday afternoon.

Having played the first seven years of his career in New Jersey, Brian Gionta is very familiar with the Devils’ trademark trap mentality. Despite having plenty of experience executing the defensive style the Devils have made famous, the Habs captain was focused more on the play of his current team on Super Bowl Sunday.

“We came out pretty slow in the first and lost a lot of one-on-one battles. With a team that’s been playing well and that’s so defensive strong, it’s tough to spot them two goals in the first period,” reasoned Gionta. “They’re playing much better, there’s no secret about that. They’ve got their confidence back and it’s going well for them.”

Subban's goal against the Devils
No stranger to the defensive stylings of Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, Benoit Pouliot wasn’t surprised to see his former coach up to his old tricks.

“When I was in Minnesota with Jacques, no one in the league wanted to play against us because there was never any room to move out there,” explained Pouliot, who played under Lemaire for nearly four seasons with the Wild from 2006-07 to 2009-10. “You think they’re going to give you the red line, but then all of a sudden, they step right up and take it away from you.”

Pouliot may be used to the stifling style Lemaire brings to his teams, but it’s not a brand of hockey the 24-year-old particularly enjoys playing against.

“It’s frustrating playing the Devils,” he admitted. “They’re a tough team. It’s a different style we’re maybe not as used to with other teams. With Jacques and his trap, it’s really tough. You work hard and nothing seems to work. That’s their style and they’ve had success with it.”

Despite seeing All-Star netminder Martin Brodeur leave the game after just 20 minutes with a knee injury, the Canadiens only managed to solve the Devils’ defense once. 

“Our only goal today was a lucky one; it hit a stick and went in,” described P.K. Subban, who scored that ‘lucky’ goal for the Habs. “I mean, I got second star of the game but I don’t know if anyone on our team other than Pricey deserved to be a star today. We had to get more pucks to the net and we couldn’t.”

According to his former protégé, that’s exactly what Lemaire had in mind heading into Sunday’s match-up.

“They played that same style his teams always play and it didn’t help us very much,” offered Pouliot. “I think it was a little too tight for us. There are definitely a few little things we’ll have to look at and tweak, but it’s just one game. We’ll work on it and we’ll be better on Wednesday.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

See also:

Postgame comments: Martin | Pouliot | Gionta | Subban
Devils 4, Canadiens 1
The Numbers Game: Feb. 6, 2011

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