BROSSARD – The Habs get some mental motivation, Leblanc on his first game back, and Cunneyworth talks team.
The psychologist: The Canadiens, just like every other team in the NHL, make use of a sport psychologist to pay a few scheduled visits to the players over the course of a regular season. With the Habs about to play two games in the next 24 hours, Dr. David Scott met with the team on Friday morning, and while the appointment had already been penciled in for months, it probably couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It’s not too hard to make sure that we’re staying positive. We had a good meeting with Scotty this morning and he said some things to us that I think we’ll really be able to build off of,” explained Lars Eller following the morning skate. “Everyone’s pretty excited to get out there and play tomorrow. Yes, we know we’re in a pretty big hole, but we’re trying hard not to look too closely at the standings and take things a game at a time.”
Strong ties: With back-to-back games looming at an already tough time in their season, overall attitude was a focal point around the Canadiens dressing room Friday morning. While things may not have gone quite according to plan for the Habs in recent weeks, the team is well aware that the solution to their problem is one that can only be found together. Head coach Randy Cunneyworth didn’t need more than a split second to respond to the question of whether he felt his team was still in this as a group.
“Absolutely,” answered Cunneyworth immediately. “It’s difficult, I won’t lie. It’s probably one of the most difficult things, dealing with the mental part of knowing that you’re not having the kind of success you want. You’ve got many guys on this team putting their best foot forward, but it still frustrating and that plays into things as well.
“Right now we’re working on everybody getting in the right frame of mind in a very short period of time,” added the head coach of his team’s upcoming stretch. “We’ve got two afternoon games coming up here – and nobody said it going to be easy, but if we stick together we can battle through this by committee.”
Getting centered: Louis Leblanc suited up for his first game back with the Habs Thursday night since getting recalled from Hamilton. The 21-year-old center clearly had no trouble re-establishing his rhythm in the top ranks, logging 9:30 of ice and finishing the night with an assist and a plus-1 differential.
“I definitely felt more comfortable and a more confident out there on the ice,” explained Leblanc who got the chance to play his natural position of center against the Devils after being used frequently as a winger in Hamilton and during his first call-up to Montreal. “I was a little thrown off for my first couple of shifts when it came to getting out of the zone, but I settled in pretty quickly and got used to things.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
Tough to swallow
Notebook - Feb. 1, 2012
Canadiens recalled Louis Leblanc from the Hamilton Bulldogs