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Turning point

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – To say the Canadiens haven’t had the start they were hoping for this season is an understatement, but the team is ready to get back to their winning ways.

Going 1-4-1 to kick off 2011-12 wasn’t the plan heading into the season. While no one in the room is happy about sitting 14th in the Eastern Conference three weeks into the campaign, the veterans in the lineup realize there’s still plenty of hockey to be played.

“It’s never good to have a stretch like this, but we have 76 games to go and that’s the way to look at it,” stressed Tomas Plekanec, who has four points in six games to date. “We need to control the future, not dwell on what happened in the past.“

“We have to go out there, play as a group and control the things we can control,” added the Czech pivot. “We got some players back and they’ll help us; we just need to put it all together and do it together. We’ve been talking about it for three weeks; it’s time to bring it on the ice.”

Looking back on the past few games, head coach Jacques Martin sees a common denominator. After finishing seventh in the league with a 19.7% power play efficiency last year, the Canadiens have gone just 2-for-25 with the man advantage so far this season. Having gone without the services of Michael Cammalleri for three games hasn’t helped the cause and the Habs bench boss is hoping his sniper’s return from injury can help spark power play production.

“A big factor in all of those losses was our special teams play. That was our main focus during practice today,” revealed Martin. “If your power play is clicking and can get you a goal or two every night, that can be the difference between winning and losing.“

“We had a good meeting this morning where we kind of recapped where we’re at and what we’ve learned in the last couple weeks and what we need to be better at,” he continued. “It’s obvious you need to trust your teammates and you need better execution and you need to be on the same page.”

A glue guy in the Canadiens dressing room, Hal Gill knows what it takes to bring a team together and get everyone working in the same direction.

“It sounds simple: ‘Just execute the system’. But there’s a lot going on. It’s not about the system; it’s about executing the different support levels and trusting in it,” confirmed Gill, who played his 1,000th career NHL game on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. “For whatever reason, we got away from the trust and we have to find that again where you know that other guy is going to win the battle and chip it up the boards. We’re kind of in-between right now and you can’t be in-between; you have to be all out and on the same page together.

“It comes from having success with it and it comes from working hard on it in practice and in games. It’s not something that just happens; if everyone could do it, everyone would win,” he underlined. “It’s hard work to play as a team – there’s a lot going on and guys need to buckle down and get the job done.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

See also:
Daily Report: October 21, 2011
Support system breakdown
Cammy ready for action 
Post-Game Show: Cunneyworth

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