BROSSARD – In today's notebook: Michel Therrien on 'creativity' in shootouts, Ryan White on taking one for the team's sake, and Josh Gorges explains that statistics aren't everything when it comes to building a winner.
‘A’ For Effort: Since shootouts were installed in NHL games to start the 2005-06 regular season, fans around the League have witnessed some highlight-reel moves, and others that likely border on bizarre. The latest in a long line of ‘interesting’ manoeuevers, that of Ottawa Senators’ left-winger Kaspars Daugavins on Monday night against the Bruins, can be described as both classic and peculiar, to say the least. When head coach Michel Therrien watched the Latvian forward put the toe of his stick on the puck at center ice, he immediately put himself in Senators’ head coach Paul MacLean’s shoes.
“I hope he’ll score,” answered Therrien when asked about what his reaction would be if one of his players attempted a similar shootout move. “When you get to the shootout, the team concept goes right out the window. We’re talking about an individual player and their raw talent. The player has to try a move that he believes will give him the best chance to score.”
Unfortunately for Daugavins, the move didn’t fool Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask, and Boston skated away with a 3-2 victory, inching to within one point of the Habs for top spot in the East.
Cool Hand Ryan: You’d have to think it took every ounce of restraint Ryan White had in him to resist dropping the gloves with Florida Panthers defenseman Nolan Yonkman on Sunday night, as the 6’6, 253 lb. rearguard tried to goad him into a fight late in the first period. With the Canadiens ahead 2-0 and momentum clearly in Montreal’s favor, White restrained himself, and Yonkman was sent to the penalty box for four minutes. White’s ability to keep his emotions in check impressed his teammates, and, more importantly, showcased the Brandon, MB native’s understanding of his coach's message of self-discipline. The 24-year-old centre openly admits though that he’d engage an opponent when called upon – at an opportune time, of course.
"If anything, my ice time went up, I think. My teammates praised me though," explained White, who has played in 18 games for the Habs on the year. “I think that's what matters. They were happy for me. I think a few of them might have been a little surprised that I controlled my emotions there, but it's the middle of the hockey game and it's playoff time right now, and we need points every night. If I've got to take a punch in the face to help our team win, then so be it.”
With tough guy Brandon Prust on the sidelines for at least the next week with a minor shoulder separation, White knows that he’ll not only be expected to provide an extra element of physicality, but an offensive push as well. Filling the void left by Prust, however, is a tall order.
“It's tough to fill [Brandon’s] shoes, on and off the ice,” said White. “I can't say enough good things about him. He's a leader in the dressing room. He's a leader on the ice every night. He's a warrior, man. He plays with his heart on his sleeve. I can't try and fill that guy's shoes, but I've got to just keep playing my game and keep working hard. My linemates have been doing a great job with me, and we're just trying to eat up minutes every night we're out there and try and keep the puck in the other team's zone. And, hopefully we can pop a few in there too.”
Behind Closed Doors: With just over half of the regular season calendar already in the books, mid-season reports are common around the NHL these days. While statistics may tell you how a club is faring numerically, figures don’t generally provide those outside of the locker room with the whole story. Goals, assists, blocked shots, saves and plus/minus aside, what do the Canadiens have going for them that has the bleu-blanc-rouge atop the Eastern Conference standings?
“The level of character in this dressing room. This game is measured first and foremost in wins and losses. After that, you measure it in goals and points, and all kinds of statistics, but when we look at our team internally, it’s different,” said defenseman Josh Gorges on the subject of his vision of what has made the Habs successful so far this season. “We talk about how we respond after a bad game. How do we respond after a bad period? Do we kill a penalty at the right time of the game? Does the power-play score at the right time of the game? And, I think those are all character attributes that this team is really showing. The hunger to win. The ability to find ways to come back in games when we may be tired, we may be down in the third period. Those are things that impress me about this team and about this group of guys. The willingness to do the work is one hundred percent every day.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
Words from the room
One for the road
The Numbers Game - March 10, 2013