BROSSARD – They may have gone back to the drawing board and tweaked their game plan against the Pens this time around, but don’t expect the Cinderella Habs to stray too far from their winning playoff formula any time soon.
While they were forced to make some adjustments after being lit up for four power play goals on as many chances in Game 1 in Pittsburgh, the biggest change the Canadiens made in Game 2 was going back to what earned them a ticket to The Steel City in the first place.
“We didn’t have a very good Game 1. They played hard and they capitalized on their opportunities and deserved to win that game,” lamented blue-liner Josh Gorges
. “I thought we had a better showing last game and we’re happy to come home with a split. You know what you’re going to get when you play Pittsburgh. They’re going to make you work for every inch and that’s why they’ve had that success in the last few years. They haven’t changed; they stick to what works and they know
what works in the playoffs.
“We have to counter that with the same kind of attitude – we can’t change what we do,” continued Gorges, who played a team-high 24:13 and finished a plus-2 on Sunday afternoon. “We want to play a little less in our end and force them to play in their own zone to tire them out a little more. We know they’re not going to change and start making fancy plays and they’re going to play hard-nosed playoff-style hockey. We just have to be prepared and ready to really battle.”
For his part, Dominic Moore is also abiding by an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” policy when it comes to success in the postseason.
“You always have to go out with the same focus and that’s to just go out and work as hard as you can and give yourself a chance to win,” explained Moore, who notched the series-clinching goal against the Capitals in Game 7.”We have our game plan and we’re going to stick with it. We know what we’re capable of and how we can play and we just have to believe in that system. Obviously you want to limit those shots, but you want to continue to play good team defense and not extend yourself beyond what you think you should.”
When the Canadiens shocked the President’s Trophy winners one round ago, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau credited the Habs with countering his explosive offensive weapons as a collective unit. While tales of 40-plus save performances and multi-point nights are dominating most of the headlines in Montreal these days, the players themselves know the importance of having 20 guys all pulling in the same direction at this time of year.
“We’ve been successful because we’ve been playing as a team,” described gritty center Maxim Lapierre. “Obviously guys like Jaro and Cammy have stood out for us, but we’re winning as a team. Everyone played well on Sunday. It’s good to be the defending champs, but for us, being the underdogs has really given us an extra boost of energy.”
With just one round of playoff hockey under his belt heading into this year, Michael Cammalleri has looked a lot more like a postseason guru than a budding apprentice this time around. Currently second in the league with eight goals in nine games, Cammy’s experience has been paying dividends for the Habs since the opening faceoff two weeks ago.
“I learned some valuable lessons last year,” recalled the Habs sniper of his first round exit with the Flames. “One thing was that we as a group came a little bit out of our game in Calgary and started playing a different way to try to beat Chicago. After reflecting on that in the summer, I thought maybe we would’ve been better off just trying to play our own identity and allow that to win the games for us. You live and you learn.”
Luckily for the Canadiens, Cammy & Co. seem to learn a lot faster than others.Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.See alsoPlayoffs centralDigging deep Habs all even with Pens