Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey met a full house of media this morning at the Bell Centre to offer a look back at the first half of his team’s season.
He also provided his own look ahead to the second half, which begins tomorrow night at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.
We’ve got his full 36-minute talk and question-and-answer period here.
Look below for a summary of highlights from Gainey’s address, presented in point form.
And here’s some dressing-room audio collected after today’s practice:
Highlights from Bob Gainey’s talk:
- The Canadiens have a slight advantage over their chief rivals in the playoff race;
- He’s happier than surprised for the performance of Alex Kovalev;
- He’s happier with the balance of the team, which last season at this time was No. 1 in the league in power play, penalty kill and goaltending, but was giving up far too many penalties and shots;
- The team’s home-ice record isn’t an overly large concern. Gainey says you can fix a home record more easily than a road record; poor performance on the road suggests a fear or anxiety about being away from home;
- On goalie Cristobal Huet: Gainey says there’s no policy against negotiating contracts during the season;
- On goalie Carey Price: He’s impressed some nights and must continue to fight for ice time. There might come a time when it could be advantageous sending him to Hamilton to get more playing time, if head coach Guy Carbonneau sees Price sitting on the bench for long stretches in the weeks to come;
- On Carbonneau: Gainey sees a more comfortable, confident coach who’s developing his own style. He and the team "are in it together, which is good."
- Faceoffs are a weakness. He wants his centremen to "take it personally, to look across at the other guy and say he’s not going to beat me."
- On forward Michael Ryder: He was a powerhouse offensively last season but "miserable defensively. … I’ve told him he needs to invest more, up the ante and be better prepared for the games."