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Domi, Canadiens ready to take next step

Forward looks to help Montreal return to playoffs after coming up 'a little bit short' last season

by Dave McCarthy / Independent Correspondent

TORONTO -- Max Domi isn't interested in focusing on any expectations set for the Montreal Canadiens after they narrowly missed qualifying the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

"Our job is to just go and do our thing, so we don't really read too much into expectations from the media," the 24-year-old forward said on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio at BioSteel Camp on Monday. "When you've got guys like Carey Price and Shea Weber, you're by no means in anything but a competitive stage of your career. Our team believed in what we could do last season, and we did some good things. We came a little bit short, but we know what we're capable of moving forward."


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Price went 35-24-6 with a 2.49 goals-against average, .918 save percentage and four shutouts last season while Weber put up 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 58 games after missing almost a year following surgeries to his right knee (torn meniscus) and left foot (torn tendon). The Canadiens finished with 96 points, two behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference and four behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, who finished third in the Atlantic Division.

Although some may have thought Montreal exceeded expectations last season, finishing with 25 more points than it had in 2017-18, Domi said falling just shy of the playoffs should not be viewed as any kind of success.

"At the end of the day, we came up a little bit short last year," Domi said. "We took some strides in the right direction, but we still have to take another step."

As a result, Domi, who led the Canadiens with 72 points (28 goals, 44 assists) in 82 games in his first season with Montreal, said his only goal is helping the team return to the postseason for the first time in three seasons.

"To be honest, as far as I'll go on personal goals this season is I want to make the playoffs," Domi said. "That's a team goal anyway and it's a team sport for a reason. You do whatever you're asked to do, you help your teammates out. Whatever your role ends up being, you do it to the best of your ability."

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Domi did that with the Canadiens last season, setting NHL career highs in goals with 28 (10 more than his previous high), assists with 44 (eight more than his previous high), and points with 72 (20 more than his previous high). He said he thrived on the pressure of playing in the spotlight of one of the League's most prominent markets after being acquired in a trade from the Arizona Coyotes for forward Alex Galchenyuk on June 15, 2018.

"It's not for everyone, but for me personally, I love it. It brings out the best in me and it holds people accountable," Domi said. "So if you're struggling, you better figure it out pretty quick because you'll hear about it."

After Growing up in Toronto while his father, Tie Domi, played for the Maple Leafs and spending four seasons with London of the Ontario Hockey League, playing under intense pressure in a highly scrutinized market is something Domi is used to and happy to embrace.

"When I was a kid, that pressure was all I knew being around my dad. Seeing him get recognized all over the streets, it was normal for me. That was my childhood," Domi said. "Playing in London in junior was more or less the same sort of atmosphere, and then same thing when I was at the [2015 IIHF World Junior Championship] with a huge stage where there was a lot of pressure, but it brought out the best in me.

"My first year in Arizona, it was playing in the NHL, so it was kind of that same feel. I wouldn't say it wears off after the first year, but it was a little different there than I was used to. I love Arizona, but in terms of hockey, I was pretty eager to get back to a market like the one I grew up around and in junior. I got lucky when I was traded, and I got to get traded to a team I'd have loved to play for."

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