MONTREAL - Heading into Tuesday night’s contest riding a four-game losing streak, the Canadiens were trying their best to stay positive and stick to the game plan that led them to a perfect 9-0-0 start to the 2015-16 season.
With each coming loss, the pain and frustration that the players in the Canadiens dressing room feel is simply undeniable.
“This is our life. This is our job. We come to the rink with the same mindset everyday of trying to get better. You go home after a game like tonight and put your head on a pillow and a million thoughts race through your mind. But when we come to the rink tomorrow we have to be positive,” commented captain Max Pacioretty, who had his two-game goal-streak snapped by the Bruins on Tuesday night after lighting the lamp against the Blues and Blackhawks this past weekend.
The Canadiens recent goal scoring struggles are not due to a lack of effort, as evidenced by the club’s 38.2 average shots per game during the five-game slide.
“I’m not looking for any moral victories. We aren’t looking to just beat them on the shot clock, we are looking to win games,” continued Pacioretty, whose sole focus is to help steer his teammates through this tough stretch in his first year as team captain. “We have to make sure we do what it takes to win the next game. We just have to focus on executing better, because we know that this works. The way we play our game works, the players that we have in this room works, it’s just not working right now. But it will work.”
Breaking out of their current slump will require a full team effort, but a positive locker-room presence like Dale Weise can help the Canadiens do just that.
“It’s tough to know what to say after a disappointing loss like that. You could say we worked hard and had some good spurts but at the end of the day you need to find a way to win hockey games,” explained Weise, who recently returned to the lineup after missing four games due to an upper-body injury sustained during the Winter Classic on January 1, 2016. “It’s been a tough stretch but every day is a new day, you have to try and reset and go out and win the next one. That’s all we can do at this point. This is a tight group; we play hard for each other. We pull together and stick together. We win as a team and lose as a team.”
As the players concentrate on trying to play their way out of the recent losing-streak, coach Michel Therrien has remained a source of optimism and encouragement.
“The execution was there at the start of the season. I can’t credit coach Therrien enough, the way he’s handled this situation. I know that if I were in that situation I wouldn’t be able to handle it as well. What motivates me and my teammates to go out there and execute better is the fact that the game plan and the system works,” noted Pacioretty, who has flourished under Therrien’s system in Montreal ever since the coach returned for a second stint behind the Habs bench in 2012-13. “We just have to focus on executing better, because we know that this works. The way we play our game works, the players that we have in this room works, it’s just not working right now, but it will work.”
Though they would leave the Bell Centre with just one goal on the scoresheet, coach Therrien maintains it can be far too easy to blame the player’s work ethic, especially in light of the fact that they outshot the Bruins to the tune of 39-24.
“Tonight the guys gave everything they had to give. I honestly hope that no one will criticize our group’s effort. It has to stop. The guys who are on the ice give all they have. That's all I can ask for,” stated Therrien, who lost the services of Nathan Beaulieu and Paul Byron, who were forced out of Tuesday night's contest due to injury. “The execution might not be there right now. But the effort is 100% every night.”
Jared Ostroff is a writer for canadiens.com.
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