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The snowball effect

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

CHICAGO – When things are going bad, sometimes they need to get worse before they can get better.

The talk surrounding the Canadiens dressing room in recent days was focused on the positives; the things the team was doing right despite its current struggles. After being dealt their fourth consecutive loss Wednesday night in Chicago, frustration among players was evident – an emotion the team will have to use to their advantage if they hope to turn things around before the Christmas break.

“Looking at myself I think I just cost our team two games in a row,” said a subdued P.K. Subban who was the first player waiting to address the media in the visitors’ dressing room following the match. “Soft play in last game, soft play again in the third. It’s not about our coaching, it’s about guys that are given the opportunity but who aren’t doing anything with it. I’ve been given every opportunity, but right now I’ve got to figure things out because it’s costing us games. 

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“I’ve got to be better for my teammates. It’s not a good feeling,” continued the 22-year-old defenseman. “Minus-4 in the past two games – that’s not good enough, not when you’re playing 25-26 minutes a night – you’ve got to be better, simple as that.”

At the other end of the room, Peter Budaj was busy taking a different approach to the night’s events after starting between the pipes for the fifth time this season.

“We’re a team, we don’t point fingers. I don’t like it when players or media blame one person. I appreciate that P.K. took responsibility but we’re in this together and it’s obviously not all him. We have to be better and stronger as a group,” expressed Budaj who for his part helped keep the Canadiens in a tight battle with the Blackhawks for over two periods, making a series of key saves along the way against some of the league’s best snipers.

“Sometimes it’s like a snowball effect,” explained the Slovakian netminder. “You start trying too hard, you start squeezing your stick too tight, and even though you’re working hard, you’re not loose and relaxed so things keep not going your way. Right now we’re in a slump and we have to get out of it. There’s no recipe – it’s just hard work. No one said it’s going to be easy, but if we stick to the plan, we’ll be rewarded.”

Still looking for his first win as interim head coach of the Canadiens, Randy Cunneyworth was no more ready to assign blame than his goaltender was, pointing out that win or lose, it’s team play on the whole that determines the group’s fate.

“P.K. knows he could have been better in that situation, but in my mind, the puck should never have even entered the zone,” said Cunneyworth in reference to a third period turnover that resulted in a Viktor Stalberg goal. “We need to be tougher on the puck before it even crosses the line and gets to that point.

“For three quarters of the game we were going in the right direction,” finished the head coach. “We stopped doing the things that we were doing well, completely got away from the plan and this is what happened. Hopefully we can take all this frustration and turn it to our advantage tomorrow night.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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