BROSSARD – Historically, the first game back after a long road trip is never easy, but that won’t stop the Habs for pushing for a fourth-straight win on Wednesday night.
After five games, nine days on the road and eight points for their trouble, the Canadiens finally return home Wednesday night to square off against the Senators for what will be only their second game at the Bell Centre in the last three weeks. Traditionally, teams can have a tough time during that first game back in their own barn after a trip as long and fruitful as the one the Habs just wrapped, but as Colby Armstrong pointed out following the team’s morning skate, they all know what they have to do – and it won’t be pretty.
“I think everyone knows about that stat,” began Armstrong, referring to the post-trip lag team’s can often experience. “The main thing is for us to just keep it ugly at home. We play a pretty tight, pretty ugly checking game and that’s been the key to our success: having every line doing that. We don’t want to be too fancy; just keep things smart and play our game.”
Part of that game will likely involve extra attention to the night’s second frame where the Canadiens have lost valuable momentum in several of their recent games.
“We always seem to come out of the gate pretty well, but then we just sort of sit back on our heels in the second. We did a better job of not letting that happen in our last game of the road trip,” added Armstrong, who did his part to keep the Habs’ energy up by throwing a team-high five hits on Sunday night. “We’re aware of it, we’re adjusting and getting better in that regard and we need to play a full 60 minutes against a good hockey team tonight.”
The Sens’ visit marks the fourth and final meeting between the teams in 2012-13. Ottawa currently leads the series after pulling out a 2-1 shootout victory in their last game in the nation’s capital on Feb. 25, but the Habs will look to finish with a perfect record against the Senators at home after logging a 2-1 win of their own in Montreal on Feb. 3.
“I really liked the way we played against Ottawa in our last game. We need to continue in that same direction. Sometimes you can still play a good game and not get the result you want,” offered head coach Michel Therrien, of the Canadiens’ most recent narrow loss to the Ottawa squad. “We’re very aware that the Senators are a good hockey team that plays a tight game and is difficult to play against. The quality of their goaltending always gives them the chance to win games.”
While the Habs won’t have to contend with big Ben Bishop in the opposing net on Wednesday night, they will have to contend with slightly-less-big Robin Lehner who weighs in at 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds. The Swede will be getting his fifth start of the season, and while he’s only logged one win so far, he has yet to lose in regulation time. Luckily the Canadiens’ bench boss is more than happy with the look of his team since returning to Montreal.
“I really liked the enthusiasm our guys showed yesterday, and I also liked what I saw on the ice this morning. Usually, that’s a good sign on a game day,” continued Therrien, who will look to guide his team to a fourth-straight win on Wednesday night. “You can’t win games in the morning, but on the other hand I think you can lose them.
“Not being sharp at the morning skate will often carry over into that night’s game. It’s something I try to remind my players of, and if I see they’re not focused or not concentrating I let them know about it,” he added. “That’s not something I had to worry about today.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com
WORDS FROM THE ROOM: March 13, 2013
Fourth edition of the Radio-Telethon benefiting the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation
Notebook - March 12, 2013
One for the road
Where there's a will