BROSSARD – There was no off day for the Canadiens on Thursday morning, after falling 3-0 to the Sabres in Buffalo the night before. After an up-tempo practice, the Habs met up with the media to dish out on a few issues.
P.K. on Markov: Ever since Andrei Markov had to sit out of the Montreal line-up with a knee injury, the younger players have had to step up to the plate to fill in for the injured All-Star. P.K. Subban has done so in a big way, averaging 24:12 minutes of ice time a game this season. Though he enjoys his time on the ice, the young defenseman was happy to trade in some minutes to see the veteran back in action.
“I’m extremely happy to see Marky back in the line-up; I think we all are,” confessed Subban. “He helps everybody in every situation, whether it’s the poweplay, even strength or the penalty kill.”
The two were paired together in Wednesday’s game when coach Randy Cunneyworth tried to spark some offense after falling behind 2-0.
“It helps when you’re playing with Josh [Gorges] or Marky out there. They’re going to support me and make sure that as soon as I’ve got the puck I’m going to move it up and they’ve got my back,” explained Subban who’s netted seven goals since the beginning of the season. “Ever since I’ve been a part of this organization I’ve been a fan of Marky. He’s been really good to me, since day one. Our relationship on and off the ice has been great. I know success on the ice is going to continue to grow because we have such a good relationship.”
Markov, who was known to be quite hard on former Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek, has been adjusting to the game since getting back out there against the Vancouver Canucks on March 10.
“Don’t get me wrong he just came back after missing a lot of hockey. I’m sure once he gets his confidence back, he’ll be cracking the whip on me for sure,” laughed Subban.
Oh, you fancy, huh?: The Erik Cole-David Desharnais-Max Pacioretty line has been explosive for the Canadiens all year, but the fire has calmed slightly in the last three games where the top line has yet to put one in. Not too discouraged by it, Desharnais keeps his focus on the team, and not on his own feats.
“We’re last, so I think it’s important to still put the team first,” confessed the young center who has a team-leading 39 assists this year. “It’s not easy, but we all wear the same colors and we all play together. The team comes first. My personal objective was to be better than last year, and I covered that a while ago. I’m still thinking of the team’s objectives.”
Desharnais’ wingman, Pacioretty often credits his former Hamilton Bulldogs linemate for his offensive success. But after being shutout for six consecutive games some wonder about what might have happened to Montreal’s top scorer.
“We’re trying to be a little too cute,” admitted Desharnais right off the bat. “[Max] is a guy with an impressive shot, so he needs to be doing that. We’re trying to create too many plays instead of bombarding the net. We’re trying to be too fancy."
Moving around: Montreal’s head coach has been able to count on his top line for most of the team’s offensive production, but teams cannot be hugely successful by relying on only three players. In order to get the spark going on his second line, Cunneyworth has transplanted center Lars Eller alongside Tomas Plekanec and Rene Bourque.
“I don’t think it’s a big adjustment to be playing on the wing, I’ve played there many times and I don’t mind playing there,” admitted the young Dane. “I think it’s more about getting the lines going and finding that chemistry. We’re just trying to find that, and we didn’t have much of it on Wednesday. We need to be creating chances offensively and play as a unit. If you don’t do that, it doesn’t matter what position they make you play.”
Eller has scored a career-high 15 goals this season, but hasn’t had his name etched on the scoresheet since scoring the game-winning goal on March 8 in Edmonton.
“You’ve got to do A and B before getting to C, and right now we’re struggling to doing the first thing - the simple things - to even get in the offensive zone,” explained Eller. “It doesn’t matter what the first line does, we should always contribute and score goals. Everybody has to step up a little bit.
“It should help that everybody wants to score and the best way to do that is help each other and support each other,” he concluded.
The Habs will be back in action on Friday night when the Ottawa Senators stroll into the Bell Centre for the third meeting in nine days.
Rapid Fire - March 22, 2012
Postgame rundown - Mar. 21, 2012
The Numbers Game - Mar. 21, 2012
Notebook - March 21, 2012