MONTREAL – Wondering how the Canadiens have turned into the hottest team in the NHL? Join the club.
From playoff bubble team to surging up the Eastern Conference standings, the Habs have won six straight and have become a team to watch out for. Suddenly sitting in the No. 6 spot in the East, the Canadiens still have a shot of catching the Sabres for the division lead and snagging the No. 3 seed.
“We’re playing as a group now,” explained Josh Gorges
. “You watch the games and every time we’re out there, you see five guys up and five guys back. Our gap is a lot tighter between our D and our forwards and everyone is on the same page. It seems like we finally figured out everyone’s role. Sometimes it’s not easy to accept, but we know that if we keep on this path and keep doing the little things and playing together and supporting each other, we’re going to be successful.”
With the team clearly guzzling his Kool-Aid these days, Jacques Martin isn’t asking any questions about what may have sparked his club’s dramatic turnaround.
“I don’t know if our big comeback in Anaheim was a season turning point or not, but anytime you have a big comeback like that especially on the road, it really brings a group together,” admitted Martin of the team’s erasing of a 3-0 deficit for a 4-3 shootout win over the Ducks last Sunday. “I could tell it was what this team needed, a chance to prove to one another what they can accomplish when they all work together.”
The Habs’ new-found killer instinct and ability to close out games just as they did in New York on Tuesday is what has Ryan O’Byrne loving life these days.
“I think there’s always a tendency to kind of sit back when you have a one-goal lead. We’re not changing our game and we keep pushing and taking chances, making big plays when they’re there and Jaro’s making the big saves when we need him to,” said O’Byrne. “I see a whole different game plan from us right now. It’s like a new team; it’s a confident team.”
And a team the Maple Leafs should be wary of come Saturday night.Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.comSee also:The playoff raceHabs earn crucial winThe standings