BOSTON - Michel Therrien said he wasn't taking about one player. But it sure sounded like he was.
Asked Saturday before Game 2 against the Bruins about what he can do to get more out of a player like Thomas Vanek, the Canadiens coach did not mince words.
"It's not about Thomas Vanek," he said, before seemingly taking aim at the Austrian winger who was minus-one and had no shots on goal in Game 1.
"One thing that's not negotiable with our team ... work ethic is not negotiable, attitude is not negotiable and competing is not negotiable. This is something we ask from every player on our hockey team. We have to make sure that everyone brings those elements to every single shift and every single game.
"It's not about one player," he added. "I'm not talking about one player. Because you can't judge a player with points and goals ... As a coach sometimes you have to make an adjustment regarding things that are not negotiable."
The Habs won a 4-3 decision in Game 1 in double overtime. But they were outplayed by Boston and needed a remarkable performance by Carey Price in goal to stay in the game.
Therrien juggled his lines, expressing satisfaction later only with the trio of Lars Eller, Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta.
In five playoff games prior to Saturday, the Habs' top line of Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Vanek had combined for three goals and four assists.
Vanek was dropped from the No. 1 line for part of Thursday's game and saw 18 minutes 58 seconds of ice time Thursday, compared to 22:33 for Desharnais and 23:33 for Pacioretty.
On Thursday, Therrien did mention Vanek by name.
"There's a few players on our team who I believe need to step up our game regarding (Thursday night) and he's one of them," Therrien told reporters. "I'm not here to mention any names but as a group we've got to be better and we will.
"I'm not worried and we're glad that we've got Thomas Vanek in our lineup because he can be a dangerous guy to the other teams."
The 30-year-old Vanek, acquired from the Islanders in early March, did not shy away from the issue.
"Last night as a line, even as a team, I don't think we played well. I think Carey carried us the whole game and then stole us the game," he said Thursday. "Subbie (P.K. Subban) stepped up and had a big goal. I think we're not ignorant (of the need) for us being better as a line and myself as an individual."
Vanek, who is eligible for free agency this summer, is the Habs' highest-earner this season at US$6.4 million.
He has 277 goals and 279 assists for 556 points in 663 regular season NHL games.