BROSSARD - The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex on Friday before departing for Toronto.
Following the session, captain Shea Weber and head coach Claude Julien spoke with reporters via Zoom.
Here are a few highlights from their respective chats:
Weber was asked what specifically has gone wrong with the team's play recently, leading to three defeats in the last four games:
I don't think it's one thing in particular. I think we know as a group that we've got to be better and get back to the way we were playing with that same energy we had to start the year. It's been a tough little go here the last week or so and we've got one more game here to try and get our game back on track before this week off.
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The veteran defensemen also talked about the strategy for getting the offense going against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night:
I think we've got to get inside against them. It's the same kind of thing that we've talked about over the past few games. Those are where all the goals are scored, in the middle of the ice, in the crease, in front of the net. You've got to get in front of goalies. Teams have good goalies and defensemen do a good job of clearing out rebounds, so we've got to fight to get position and use our size in front to make a difference.
Video: Shea Weber on snapping out of the current funk
As for the group's struggles on home ice, Weber was at a loss to explain why the Bell Centre hasn't been a friendly place:
I don't know. Hopefully it's just one of those things that you go through in a season and it's not going to hang around. We've got to figure that out ourselves, obviously, with our game and getting it back on track. That's what meetings and video are good for, to see what was making us successful at the start of the year compared to what we're doing now, and just correct a few things systematically and move forward.
For his part, Julien spoke about what Friday's video session involved:
We took the time to show them what's happening right now. We also showed them what we were doing better at the beginning of the season. You can't forget that opposing teams also adjust. They respect our offense and our speed. There definitely isn't as much space as there was at the start of the year. It's a part of the game and we have to find a way to counter that.
Video: Julien on the benefits of video sessions
The Canadiens' bench boss also discussed the importance of balancing patience and the desire to switch things up:
I don't know if it's a question of patience or just making changes as we move along. We realize that the season is still long and condensed. We must be able to avoid panicking and try to rebound instead. We want our group to showcase resilience. We want to get back to our good habits and the style of play we showed to start the season.
Fortunately, Julien can count on players with plenty of NHL experience to keep everyone calm and focused during trying times:
We have confidence in our veterans. I think we have a good core of veterans. We can't panic, but we have to get back on track. We're aware that we haven't been playing our best hockey over the last few games. It just takes one win to turn things around and get our confidence back.