BROSSARD – The Canadiens put their most recent loss squarely in the rearview mirror on Sunday.
After dropping a 6-1 decision to the Colorado Avalanche, Michel Therrien’s troops hit the ice at the Bell Sports Complex to work on several aspects of their game that ultimately came up short against Patrick Roy & Co. on Saturday night in Montreal.
|The Canadiens were hard at work on Sunday trying to put the loss to the Colorado Avalanche behind them. |
“It was about working hard and working on areas that we want to improve. We focused on net-front presence and 50-50 pucks on faceoffs, so it was fun competition. We got some good work out of it,” offered captain Max Pacioretty, whose squad outshot the Avalanche by a 40-24 margin, but still suffered its third loss of the year in regulation time. “Those details are the reasons why we didn’t score. I think we made it easy on their goalie [Reto Berra]. He saw too many pucks. We’ve got to make it hard on him, take away his eyes and get second and third chances.”
With that in mind, the Canadiens’ bench boss put his players through their paces on Sunday looking to up their compete level and intensity heading into Monday night’s tilt against the Vancouver Canucks.
“We worked on details and brought up the compete level with a couple of drills to get the guys going and compete a little bit. It’s fun. It makes you prepare for the next game and we certainly are ready for it,” shared Alex Galchenyuk, referencing the high-octane battle drills the Canadiens took part in during the latter stages of the skate. “A loss is a loss. The best way to overcome it would be to play a game, though. We just came in here and got it going.”
Win or lose on Saturday night, a fast-paced practice might have been just what the doctor ordered with a visit from Willie Desjardins’ contingent on the horizon. A little less than three weeks ago, the Canucks handed the Canadiens a 5-1 loss at Rogers Arena. It also just happened to be their first loss of the season after rattling off nine straight victories to begin the 2015-16 campaign.
“They played well against us when we were there, so hopefully we can return the favour this time around. We know it’s not going to be easy. They’ve been on a long road trip, so they’ve spent some time together. For us, it’s going to be about coming out, executing, and rebounding after the loss. We need to come out with a better effort. Upping that battle level will be big for us,” mentioned Brendan Gallagher, who scored the Canadiens’ lone goal in Saturday night’s lopsided contest at the Bell Centre. “It was good for us to just get our battle level up [in practice]. Last game, we threw a lot of pucks on net, but we could have made it a little tougher on the goalie, get in front of him and create a little more havoc in front.”
That’s what Gallagher does best, and it’s a safe bet he’ll be right back it again on Monday after taking in a few Canucks games on TV as of late.
“We know they’re going to play a good, strong hockey game. We know they’re a good team. I’ve watched a few games they’ve played on this trip. They play hard. They come at you line after line. Their coach demands that everyone plays hard and plays the right way. It’s not easy to play against them. [Last time we played them] they out battled us a little bit in those prime scoring areas. They did a little bit of a better job winning those small battles and it turned into chances for them,” explained Gallagher, who has one goal and three points in five career games against Vancouver. “But, we just need to worry about ourselves, play the way we’ve played the majority of the season and try to use our home crowd. We think we’ll be fine.”
With a stellar 7-1-1 record in the friendly confines of the Bell Centre so far this year, it’s tough to argue with that.
“We play a certain way and we want to make sure that we don’t slip. That’s our style, it’s hard-nosed, in-your-face hockey,” concluded Pacioretty. “Things might have been creeping into our game a little bit lately. Hopefully, we were able to flush them out.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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