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Looking to the vets

The Habs' more experienced players are playing a key role in helping their younger teammates navigate a tough stretch

by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - Carey Price addressed the media on Friday for the first time since telling reporters he was "beyond frustration" following Monday night's 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

The veteran netminder doubled down on his words, noting that he's fully focused on the road ahead and on brighter days which are surely to come.

"It means what I mean. I'm not dwelling on negative attitudes or anything like that," Price said of his postgame comments. "I'm just going to continue to do the things that I feel will make me successful and not worry about the result and being focused on the results."

Video: Carey Price on his frustration

With 13 years of NHL experience, Price is part of a leadership group that is being counted on to keep spirits high, with a goal of maintaining confidence for some of his younger teammates who are experiencing one of the more challenging aspects of life in NHL.

The 32-year-old backstop is fully cognizant of his role and is embracing it to the max.

"As a younger player, you, lean on older guys to help show the way," outlined Price, who has a 16-16-4 record in 36 games this season. "I think we have a pretty good core group of guys here that are staying pretty positive in light of things."

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As for whether the team's current eight-game losing streak could do some damage to the psyche of those young up-and-comers, Price was firm in his belief: they'll get through it.

"They'll be fine. A day in the NHL is a good day," he declared. "They're having fun. They know what it is: it's learning experiences, and they're just trying to get better here."

Rookie Cale Fleury admitted the team's struggles have given way to frustration, but was very appreciative of the support offered up by the club's older, more experienced players.

"We rely on our veterans a lot on all aspects of the game on and off the ice. We have a lot of great leaders on our team," shared Fleury, who's averaged 14:24 of ice time in 38 games in his inaugural campaign in the League. "Hopefully, that'll get us out of this.

"We just have to keep working to get out of it."

Video: Cale Fleury on maintaining confidence

For his part, Dale Weise has been on teams going through similar struggles over the course of his 10-year career in the NHL and feels like this current group is taking the right approach attitude-wise.

"When I was playing for Philadelphia two years ago, we lost 10 straight games. I can tell you that it's not a pleasant feeling," recounted Weise. "That's not really the feeling I have right now in the locker room. The team spirit is still there and guys want to win. They want to come to the rink. I really believe in this team."

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Head coach Claude Julien may not be satisfied with his team's results of late, but he was certainly pleased with the intensity his troops continue to demonstrate on the ice.

"The energy is still there. From the coaches' perspective, it's important for us to keep working so that the players see we're really behind them," he said. "We're asking the players to see that there are better days ahead of us."

At Friday's practice at the Bell Sports Complex, Julien and his staff tried to inject a bit more energy and positivity into their squad by organizing a short-ice scrimmage, and the players fully appreciated the change of pace and the fun that came with it.

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"I think a little competitive game like that is always helpful," explained rookie Nick Suzuki. "I really like playing in those. You get the hands going in tight areas, and guys are competitive. They want to win in those games, so it was nice to have that."

Video: Nick Suzuki on the need to be more competitive


Julien provided a host of updates from the team's sick bay when he met the media following practice on Friday:

  • After making his return in the Habs' 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Brendan Gallagher was complaining of headaches late on Thursday. Julien said the winger was talking to the team's medical staff to determine if the headaches were related to his recent concussion and, if so, Gallagher would be held out of the lineup for Saturday's game in Ottawa.
  • Along with Gallagher, defensemen Jeff Petry and Ben Chiarot sat out Friday's practice. Julien told reporters that Petry would likely play in Ottawa. Chiarot, meanwhile, is still not good to go, but the coach said his return would come sooner rather than later.
  • Julien announced that Paul Byron has not resumed skating and suffered a setback in his recovery. He also said that while Joel Armia and Jonathan Drouin have been skating, neither they nor Byron are expected to make a comeback until after the All-Star break at the earliest.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Julien discusses Gallagher's absence from practice.#GoHabsGo

The Canadiens headed for Ottawa shortly after practice. They face the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.

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