NEW YORK – The Habs had a tough night at the office on Sunday against the Rangers.
Playing their eighth game in 12 nights in one of the team’s busiest stretches on the schedule, the Habs ran out of gas against a well-rested Rangers group on Sunday night. Dropping a 5-0 decision in New York, the Canadiens weren’t able to beat Henrik Lundqvist, whose team enjoyed a longer-than-planned break after their Friday night game in Buffalo was postponed due to snow.
Having been outhit, outshot and outscored in the game, the Canadiens’ head coach didn’t have a hard time explaining what went wrong during his postgame presser.
“You have to look at the game as a whole and there’s no denying it: we were bad tonight,” admitted Michel Therrien, whose team has gone 6-2 in the past eight games. “I felt like we lacked energy, and that’s normal. We’ll regroup this week, we’ll get some rest and we’ll look to next weekend. When we look at our last eight games in 12 nights, that’s what I’ll take away from it.”
While the team would have preferred to end the weekend with a win in the tail end of a back-to-back series for the fifth time in as many circumstances this season, they weren’t able to follow up a 2-0 shutout in Boston with a victory over the Rangers.
“Whether you lose by five or you lose by one, you still lost,” underlined P.K. Subban, who was the second-most used Hab on Sunday night behind Alexei Emelin. “Games like this where we know exactly why we lost, it’s easier to just turn the page.
“I don’t think we were good enough from the start,” added Subban, whose team allowed a goal less than halfway through the opening frame. “The first 10 minutes are the most important minutes in the game and we didn’t do a good enough job managing the puck. We put ourselves in a position to lose.”
Heading into the first intermission down by one but only being outshot 12-11 on road ice, the Canadiens were then outshot 22-10 in the next two periods, allowing a Rangers goal 35 seconds into the second before giving up another three to close out the night.
“It’s no secret we played a sloppy game. They were just a better team tonight. It would be easy to say that they were well-rested and we weren’t, but it wasn’t just physical, it was mental out there,” stressed fellow assistant captain Max Pacioretty. “They were dominating us in every aspect of the game, physically and mentally. Teams out west travel way more than we do so that’s definitely not an excuse at all. Everyone is tired in this league, it’s a demanding schedule, but at the end of the day, the teams that win are the ones who find a way to get through that.”
Despite the setback in New York, the Canadiens are still sitting first in the NHL with a 16-6-1 record heading back to Montreal, with a four-day break now standing between them and the Buffalo Sabres. Subban doesn’t envision any problems getting motivated to kick off the team’s next win streak.
“I don’t think that’s going to be an issue. When we’ve gone through tough times this year, we’ve always stayed pretty positive in the dressing room,” mentioned Subban. “I think we’ll forget about this quickly and move past it. We have a couple of days to rest and get ourselves prepared for some important hockey we have coming down the stretch. This will be our biggest rest until the Christmas break so it’s important for us to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves and taking care of our bodies, but guys won’t have a problem staying positive.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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