BOSTON – The Habs battled until the last second, but costly errors kept the team from closing out the win.
If pushing the action right up until the final seconds of a game has been a problem for the Canadiens in recent tilts, it certainly wasn’t the case Monday night in Boston. Since making his leap behind the Habs bench, head coach Randy Cunneyworth has been working to instill the same “never say die” attitude in his squad that he lived by during his days in the NHL.
“Every time you step out on the ice for a shift, you have to be ready to work and to compete to the best of your ability. Tonight, we were ready to compete for a good portion of the game. It was the few moments when we weren’t that cost us in the end,” confirmed Cunneyworth after his second game at the team’s helm.
Despite the loss, Cunneyworth still praised his squad’s performance in the final frame where they came out hungry to even the score, out-shooting the Bruins 9-1 at one point in the period.
“We have to look at the push that we made in the third period as a positive in tonight’s game. We never gave up. We made it close and almost tied things up late in the game even though we were two goals behind at one point,” continued Cunneyworth in reference to the Canadiens final push that resulted in an Erik Cole marker with 74 seconds left in the match. “I think that shows a bit about our character. The other side of our character right now is that we made mistakes at very inopportune times. Either way, I believe that this game was a step in the right direction for us.”
With all the things they did right in the game’s last 20 minutes, making mistakes against the hottest team in the Eastern Conference is bound to prove costly. The Canadiens came face-to-face with that truth first hand when a defensive zone turnover with under six minutes to play led to a Brad Marchand goal that doubled the Bruins’ lead.
“It’s the story of our season,” said Mathieu Darche, after logging 14:30 of ice-time against the Bruins. “We have some great portions of our game like we did in the third period, but then there are always a couple of key breakdowns at the wrong time and those mistakes that are costing us goals; costing us games, are all one that can be easily avoided.
A few stalls away, the team’s leading scorer and author of the Canadiens’ first period goal, Tomas Plekanec was busy echoing his teammate’s sentiments.
“These games that we’re losing have been close, they’re usually one goal games, and the solution to that problem is definitely in this dressing room,” said Plekanec who finished his night with a plus-1 differential. “We’re talking a lot, but we need to be able to go out there and make it happen on the ice. We need more production from all our lines right now. Our game is a team game and we have to figure out how to put it all together.”
Plekanec and the rest of the Canadiens will get the chance to do just that when they face off against the Blackhawks on Wednesday night in Chicago.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
The Numbers Game - Dec. 19, 2011
Comments From Geoff Molson Following the Head Coaching Change With the Montreal Canadiens Who's in, who's out?