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Stayin' alive

The Habs are staying the course and not giving up on their goal of booking a ticket to the Second Season

by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - In their first day back at work after Saturday's stinging 2-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Habs were adamant that their drive towards a playoff spot would be continuing uninterrupted.

And though getting blanked after throwing 48 shots on net may be disappointing, they're also seeing it as a sign of the hard work they're putting in to get where they want to go.

"It's not for a lack of effort. There have been three of the six games I've played that I think we should've won and we lost," described newcomer Jordan Weal, acquired at the trade deadline from the Arizona Coyotes. "We were getting so many pucks to the net, getting chances. Things aren't falling for us right now. We just have to stick with it, continue to battle, continue to get pucks to the net, make stuff happen, create havoc, and I think we'll be alright."

Video: Jordan Weal on the need to keep battling

Centerman Phillip Danault thinks the Habs have strayed from their recipe for success of late, but believes their cohesiveness as a unit is what'll drive them to get back on track.

"We're a group who has such good chemistry, both off the ice and on. We've gotten away from that the past few games," explained Danault, who has a career-high 46 points (11G, 35A) in 71 games this season. "We played a bit nervously. I think that's going to be the difference for the next few games. We have to get back to basics, have fun and follow our system. We're not here for nothing. We've worked so hard all year and that shouldn't change."

Video: Phillip Danault on the good chemistry in the room

Head coach Claude Julien affirmed that while throwing the new guys - such as Weal - into the mix might be tough on some, he believes the chemistry Danault referred to is as alive and thriving as ever and that his team is as much in the hunt as it ever has been this season.

"I started this interview really focused on letting you guys know we're not dead. We practiced hard today, we're going to go to Philly and give it everything we have. That's the bottom line," he declared. "To me, it has nothing do with anything else we're worried about as far as it is the players' fault, is it the chemistry. Nothing has changed here."

Video: Claude Julien's press conference

The Canadiens are currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, and face a huge test on Tuesday in Philadelphia. A win could bring them to within a point of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but a regulation loss would give them just a one-point cushion over the streaking Flyers.

The team's leading goal-scorer also chimed in to endorse his club's ability to get the job done just moments before they departed for Philadelphia.

"I think this group has done a good job. We know what's ahead of us. We have to win some hockey games here, that goes without saying. We've worked pretty hard for 72 games here as a group," shared Brendan Gallagher. "For the last 10 games, we're going to put in the same work ethic. We're pretty confident we're going to get the result we want."

All part of the process for KK

Julien took some time to address the fact that he reduced rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi's ice time in the Chicago game, sending the young Finn out for two shifts in the third period for a game total of 7:56 of ice time.

For the veteran of 1,175 games behind an NHL bench, it's all part of the educational experience for the Habs' third-overall pick in 2018.

"The 18-year-old kid is going to be an unbelievable player for this organization for many years to come. It's called learning to play the game at a young age. That's part of getting some experience and growing up. We didn't do anything wrong," outlined Julien. "I don't think he's discouraged, I don't think we hurt his development. It's just one of those situations where we're going to sit down with him and show him where it is he has to get better and make him a better player; it's nothing more than that."

The Habs take on the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

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