MONTREAL – A year removed from scoreboard watching every night in vain while praying for all the help they could get in the standings in efforts to make the playoffs, the Canadiens now hold their destiny in their own hands.
With just 12 games to go and the No. 1 spot in the conference still well within reach, the Habs' position among the league’s elite is a welcome change. That being said, there is no urge in the dressing room to lift their foot off the gas.
“Seeing that we’re likely in the playoffs this year is a good feeling, but I can’t say it really changed all that much about our approach,” admitted Christopher Higgins. “We’re battling just as hard this year, just not with the same goal in mind. Last year it was all about making the playoffs and now it’s winning our division or grabbing that top spot in the East. No matter how you slice it, we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
You won’t find head coach Guy Carbonneau with his feet kicked up on his desk these days, either.
“Nothing has changed for me in my preparation as a coach,” said Carbonneau of his team’s division-leading status. “Until I see that asterisk next to our name in the standings, we are not in the playoffs yet. We’ve worked too hard to get where we are and we can’t forget that anything can happen. This isn’t the time to slow down and let up. If anything, we need to ramp up our intensity for this final stretch to the playoffs because things don’t get any easier from here.”