Canadiens Notebook: Coach Claude Julien comes to defence of captain Max Pacioretty

Montreal Canadiens v New York Rangers - Game Three


Canadiens coach Claude Julien came to the defence of captain Max Pacioretty when he met with the media Wednesday afternoon in Brossard.

The coach cancelled a scheduled practice and only the extra players skated in Brossard following Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Rangers in New York that evened the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final series 2-2 heading into Game 5 Thursday at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CBC, TVA Sports, TSN Radio 690).

Pacioretty failed to score a goal for the fourth straight game and has only one assist in the series. The captain had two shots and two hits in Game 4 and was also minus-1. Rick Nash’s winning goal came after Pacioretty skated past the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh at the blue line after trying to poke check the puck away from him. McDonagh then passed the puck down low in the corner to Nash, who cut to the net and beat goalie Carey Price with a backhand move through the five-hole.

In what has been a very physical series, Pacioretty has only nine hits in the first four games.

When asked about Pacioretty’s mistake on the winning goal, Julien said: “We’re critiquing one play there and there’s a lot of things that happened that game that maybe Carey (Price) saved us and stuff like that. So again, mistakes are part of a game.

“I think we have to be very careful, personally,” the coach added. “We’re jumping on a guy here that has scored over 30 goals every year and all of a sudden people think well, he hasn’t scored yet so let’s jump on Max Pacioretty. And Max Pacioretty is a good captain right now and is doing whatever he can and wants to be better. So at the end of the day, what I’m telling you is that my job is to help him be the best player he can be and if you ask him he’s going to tell you the same thing.”

The coach continued to stick up for Pacioretty, who had an impressive regular season during his second year as captain, posting 35-32-67 totals to lead the team in goals and points.

“This is a sport that has ups and downs,” Julien said. “You get the momentum going your way at times, sometimes it doesn’t. The ebbs and flows of the sport is what makes it interesting. The ebbs and flow of a sport is what makes people question things. At the end of the day, we look at the big picture and that’s what’s important. And Max Pacioretty, I think we’re pretty happy to have him here in Montreal.”

When Julien was pressed as to whether Pacioretty was doing enough away from the puck while not scoring goals, the coach said: “This is not something I’m going to come out here and start discussing a player’s individual play. But what I will do is tell you that you know that he’s a good player and we’re going to continue to make him a good player. Whether you guys think he hasn’t done enough or not, from me internally I think he’s done a lot and I think he’s got an opportunity to be better if he gets a chance to be better. I think my job is to take the pressure off him while he’s getting pressure from elsewhere. So that’s how I handle things.”

You can watch Julien’s entire Wednesday news conference from Brossard on the HI/O Facebook Page.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Emelin back on the ice

Defenceman Alexei Emelin, who has yet to play in the playoffs after suffering a lower-body injury on April 5 in Brossard, skated with the extra players Wednesday in Brossard but hasn’t been cleared yet by the team’s medical staff to return to the lineup.

Julien said Emelin would be re-evaluated by the medical staff after skating Wednesday and again Thursday, when the Canadiens have an 11 a.m. practice scheduled in Brossard.

New No. 1 line?

Julien shuffled his lines during the second period of Game 4, putting Alex Galchenyuk between Artturi Lehkonen and Alexander Radulov, while Phillip Danault was at centre between Pacioretty and Andrew Shaw.

While it certainly looked like the new Galchenyuk line is now the No. 1 line, Julien said that wasn’t necessarily the case.

“Well, first of all, I don’t know how he made that switch to be a first-line centreman or whether Radulov went to the third (line)?” Julien said. “It depends how you look at it, right? So anyways, it’s just one of those things. I don’t know how you guys figure 1-2-3, I just like my lines.”

Since Radulov leads the Canadiens with 2-4-6 totals through four games and ranked third in NHL playoff scoring through Tuesday’s game, we’ll look at it as him playing on the first line.

Galchenyuk out of doghouse

Galchenyuk started the playoffs playing left wing on the fourth line with Steve Ott and Dwight King but has worked his way up since then with two assists in the first four games.

Now it’s Pacioretty who is in the doghouse and dropping lines.

“It just goes to show you again that what we’re doing right now … that guy (Pacioretty) will be good again, OK?” Julien said. “He didn’t turn into a bad player and he’s not a bad player right now. We know we can expect more out of him because we know he can score goals. But that doesn’t make him a bad player.

“Through ebbs and flows of a season of playoffs and stuff like that we can choose to be what we want to be,” the coach added. “And I choose to be the guy that’s going to support (Pacioretty) and help him be better because it’s going to help everybody in this city here, help everybody in the dressing room to have a better team by helping this guy out vs. questioning him and getting on him. Personally, I don’t think he deserves it because he’s been good in my time here. He’s a good captain, as I keep mentioning it. He cares about his team and he does whatever he can to help win.

“The other night (in Game 3), would it have made you guys feel better if Radulov hadn’t gone offside (late in the game) and (Pacioretty) would have shot it in the empty net? He’d have one goal, one assist. Would that change the perception of him at that point? So we got to be careful about that stuff.”

Running over Price

The Rangers had a goal called off during the first period after Nash crashed into Price, which certainly had Canadiens fans holding their breath after the goaltender suffered a season-ending knee injury in November of last season.

Julien said it was more a case of Nash taking the puck to the net than trying to run into Price.

“It’s a matter of did he really go after him, or did he take the puck to the net?” Julien said. “Part of our job is to kind of not let him get to the net. He’s a big guy and he got to the net. He tried to score on that play. He didn’t try to run Carey, he tried to score on that play.

“Did we go to (get) him? We went to him right away,” the coach added about his team’s response after the play. “Do you fight and drop your gloves every time there’s a collision that to me was not intentional, it was taking pucks to the net? If he crashes into our goaltender intentionally, I think you’ll see our team react a lot differently. 

“To me, that looked like a play of a guy taking the puck to the net and I hope my players do the same thing, they take pucks to the net that same way. You’re trying to score … it’s not easy to score. This happened at the other end. I think we’ve had a lot of guys in the crease and pushed into their goaltender. I think overall we’ve done a pretty good job of protecting our goaltender. I know history makes it a little sensitive when you see that happen, but I like to put the context in the right perspective.”

When Price was asked after the game about Nash running into him, the goalie simply said: “I don’t blame him.” 

The schedule

Here’s a look at the schedule for the rest of the Canadiens-Rangers series:

Thursday, April 20: at Montreal, 7 p.m., CBC, TVA Sports, TSN Radio 690.
Saturday, April 22: at New York, 8 p.m., CBC, NBC, TVA Sports, TSN Radio 690.
* Monday, April 24: at Montreal, TBD
*- if necessary

• Sense of urgency for Canadiens and Pacioretty, by Pat Hickey

• Canadiens need Pacioretty to regain scoring touch, by Stu Cowan

• Torrey Mitchell forges 10-year career on drive, by Stu Cowan

• Theodore and Price remain brothers in Habs’ goaltending fraternity, by Stu Cowan

• Last-gap effort falls shorts for Canadiens as Rangers even series, by Pat Hickey

• Sloppy second period costly against desperate Rangers, by Pat Hickey

• Habs’ Plekanec could be valuable commodity in playoffs, by Stu Cowan

• Habs’ Ott relishes role as playoff agitator, by Stu Cowan

• Hockey historian says Montreal teams have won 41 Stanley Cups, by The Canadian Press

• Rangers a different team when Nash is at his best, N.Y. Daily News

• Zibanejad shows why Rangers traded for him, N.Y. Post

• Rangers finally win a playoff game at home, N.Y. Times


  1. Bash says:

    I predicted that Rads and Chuck would have to be on the same line for us to go anywhere in the playoffs. Of course they have to produce 🙂 Pac and Chuck score tonight – we win.

    “Damn it Jim I’m not a doctor; I’m a hockey expert.”

  2. BC (Because of the Cats) says:

    It’s looking more and more as though the Habs would have been well advised to lose a couple of those late-season games to the Senators and fall behind them. The Bruins would have been an easier opponent than the Rangers.

    I have a bad feeling about this series. I had thought Price would outplay Lundqvist, but so far this is not happening. I had thought Pacioretty and Galchenyuk would score, but so far they’re not.

    “We gotta lotta dep.”

  3. on2ndthought says:

    Maybe if you had done something to Lurch two years back…

  4. TheSleeveen says:

    Without PK to slag I guess people have to hold the forwards accountable for their defensive gaffs.

  5. expat_habsfan says:

    Good on CJ having Patches’ back. I don’t agree with all the smoke he was blowing up Max’s behind but I’m guessing CJ hopes the favor is repaid with a better performance next game.

    Don’t know if the Habs make the playoffs without Patches’ points but I think they could have found a better choice to wear the ‘C’.

    Perhaps if they had given PK the ‘C’ he might have recognized the need of ‘team’ first and would still be on the roster; but that’s water under the bridge.

    Let’s hope that Max responds better to CJ’s comments then he did to the very public ‘coal raking’ he got from Tort’s at the World Cup.

    • Habfan10912 says:

      Absolutley agree with you 100%. CJ is displaying the behavior that leaders display. All too often our former coach would deflect criticism and blame by calling out players. Coaches like Torts have had some success doing that but their shelve lives are often short as players will soon tune them off.

      I suspect if Max hears of his coaches remarks he’ll be appreciative as will gis teamates. As for the question if it results into good results, let’s hope so.

  6. Timo says:

    Is it Walrus behind the Ducks bench?

  7. Caesar says:

    @sluff no you heard right. The too many men on the ice. The team of destiny. The Cinderella story. That is what the CBC are pushing. The leafs should nor win another game if the Caps do not take a dive Follow the money what kind if odds does a Laffs win get you???

  8. Cal says:

    Tough luck for Calgary to come up against a playoff-ready and hungry Anaheim. Looks like they’ll be gone in 4.
    Has midnight come for the Leafs? Good on them for making this a series, but how in hell can Washington be satisfied with that sieve of a D? I’m including Holtby in this because he’s been awful.
    It’s not that big a surprise for Ottawa to be beating the injury-plagued D of Boston, but it’s nice to watch an emerging 19 year old Macavoy for the Bruins. We here drool over Sergachev, but Macavoy is miles ahead of him.
    I am really looking forward to tomorrow night, but (and this is for smiler) my gut’s not liking tomorrow night’s Hab chances at all.
    (Insert ominous music here)

  9. Habnormal says:

    I think the consensus here is taht King needs to sit. Some have even offered Flynnto he his sub. I agree anything is better than king right now. I’m liking Mitchell so far

  10. TDotHabfan says:

    Maybe I just missed the string, but I haven’t seen anyone asking just about the most obvious question: why in the world is Dwight King still dressing? He is a slow turnover machine with zero offensive upside and he hasn’t even been physically dominant. Useless!

  11. Habnormal says:

    I was hoping Calgary would win at least a game and the Ottawa series would go at least 6

  12. Habsbill24 says:

    The Max attacks by media and HIO trolls just boggles the mind. Yes Max was not good on the Nash goal but both D were missing in action and Carey did not cover himself in glory by allowing Nash to glide out from the corner and stuff it five hole. Max is not playing badly. He has the most shots on the team with 19 shots. Second most on the team is Gallagher at 13 who also has zero goals. Radulov has two goals and six other guys have one goal. Not exactly the 1977-78 Canadiens. Many guys are missing in action. Weber is plus 3, seven other guys are plus 1 including Max in that group. The rest are negative. Max is far from being the biggest problem right now. His shots have not found the back of the net but that is the nature of goal scorers. They are streaky and it will come. Meanwhile it would be nice if some if the other players started to score a little and not play minus hockey and for fans and so called experts on HIO and TSN 690 not to immediately blame the captain whenever something doesn’t click or goes wrong.

    • RightNyder says:

      Here’s the deal, Mrs. Pacioretty (we know it’s you, no need to go by Bill, you’re among friends).
      We really do like your son. He’s a great player. Cheap contract, too.

      But he sometimes disappears for stretches. This frustrates us, because we are impatient, irrational fanatics.

      He is the captain of our favourite hockey team, the titular leader. He has no goals in this series. Just one point. He has just 19 points in 36 playoff games. The ones that, you know, mean the most.

      This also frustrates us, because we are impatient, irrational fanatics.

      But rest easy, Mrs. P. All we ask is that he chip in a couple of goals and help us win two of the next three games, and we’ll all love him again.

      Shouldn’t be a problem, should it?

      P.S. Doesn’t calling us names kind of drag you down to our level? Here’s a hint: You can’t beat us if you let us pull you into the mire.

    • on2ndthought says:

      No way that McDonaugh makes a good play at the blueline and that Nash makes a goal scorers play out of the corner. Nope, let’s bash some Habs.

      The Rangers are a good team, so are the Habs. One will win the series; the ‘fans’ of the other will blow up the internet for 3 months.

  13. PK says:

    Self-appointed Johnny Hockey is going to be Johnny Golf …. in two hours.

  14. Danno says:

    If there was ever any doubt how corrupt Chris Lee is, tonight’s love-in with the Leafs confirmed it once and for all.


    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”
    Updates, highlights & great discussions on all things Habs

  15. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    Considering the goalies who were available this past season, looks like the Flames blew it not getting an upgrade.

  16. PK says:

    Buh bye Calgary.

    We still remember Lanny MacDonald.

  17. Habby_Haberton says:

    1 goal and yanked for Elliott. Maybe his last game for CGY.

  18. Habby_Haberton says:

    Man Elliott is bad. Like…bad.

  19. Danno says:

    Fun With Anagrams

    Toronto Maple Leafs = A Fallen Poet’s Motor


    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”
    Updates, highlights & great discussions on all things Habs

  20. Thomas Le Fan says:

    Leafs … lose.

    It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. – Mark Twain

  21. PK says:

    Caillou beats Rat-boy.

  22. Goldenchild says:

    I would love to play for Claude Julien. The guy gets hockey and respects his players. Does your boss respect you and your coworkers? Hard to find this today folks. I love how he stands up for Patches and others. Patches will get it together folks, please try to reduce your angst by at least 39%. Go Habs!!

  23. Caesar says:

    Wouldn’t worry about sens or Bs until we beat Rags. I do think Habs will win the series but I also thought they would have won last night

  24. Caesar says:

    Ron Maclean just said leafs were a cinderella team that will have lows and highs The leafs will not win another game until October

  25. Habby_Haberton says:

    Wait? Leafs played tonight? I thought they won the cup after last game?

  26. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    Bobby Ryan is having a great playoff. If I had a piece of advice for Max it would be to crash the net. Outside stuff is not going to work on the Rangers.

  27. 2mins4lookinsooogood says:

    The bounces the leafs have gotten in this series are unbelievable. Can’t change that but you can change the goaltender – time to pull Holtby next game if he doesn’t improve.

  28. B says:

    The ref in Toronto announces on the PA that “we have a goal”

    –Go Habs Go!–

    • DDO_Habs_Fan says:

      The best wss Hughson when Toronto scored their 2nd goal: “Cue the comeback!”. How does he know whether or not they are going to come back?

  29. DipsyDoodler says:

    Caps are just horrible.

    Brooks Orpik just stood there doing nothing. $5.5M per year for another two years.


  30. johnnylarue says:

    C’mon, Holtby–don’t embarrass yourself.

  31. PK says:

    Yikes, Bruins in trouble.
    Sens take the lead.

  32. johnnylarue says:

    I’ll admit that I still want the Leaves to take this series (cuz they’d make for a fun opponent), but I’m relieved they didn’t show us up by taking a 3-1 lead. That would have been bad for morale.

  33. scarboro_habitant says:

    laffs getting away with a ton of obstruction, picks etc in this game. listening to these leaf blowers (all stations) has almost ruined these playoffs for me too.

  34. johnnylarue says:

    Kuznetzov is a heinous human being.

  35. simoa says:

    I find it strange that there are so many tickets left for sale for possible game 7?

  36. PK says:

    Leafs have been futile for fifty years. Can’t wash off that stink, even if they have the Arizona wonder-kid.

  37. johnnylarue says:

    Don’t the Leafs know they’re supposed to lose against these elite bums?

  38. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    Looks like the refs are not going to call anything on Toronto. Not surprised.

  39. Habnormal says:

    After the first few playoff games I would think Anaheim has become the new cup favourite.

  40. the habinator says:

    When do Patrice Bergen become available? What I wouldn’t give to have him on our team

  41. Habnormal says:

    Koivu was a player. In an era of some of the most dreadful hockey in Canadiens history, he was a bright light. Then they subbed in Gomez and tossed him aside. Brutal.

    • The ice ghost says:

      We met Koivu, down here in LA after the trade. My son was young but wore his #11 with pride, still have an autographed stick and sweater. I apologize to him for how he was treated. One of my heroes.

      I was in LA when Habs dumped Kirk Muller too, he was at the hotel when he found out. I just remember feeling really embarassed.

  42. 2mins4lookinsooogood says:

    Chris Lee huh …

  43. johnnylarue says:

    So a goalie interfering with the screener is still technically “goaltender interference” on Chris Lee’s Upsy-Downsy Funtime Universe Planet?


  44. And Carey Price gets dragged out of the crease…………. 😆 I’ll never forget that.

    Hockey Is Life, Me and My Boy
    Shane Oliver
    No Name, No Location, No One Cares

  45. DDO_Habs_Fan says:

    That is not goal-tender interference. Backstrom was not even in the blue paint.

  46. The ice ghost says:

    Patches has always been a streaky scorer, why this is a revelation to anyone I don’t understand.

    That said, if you’re not scoring, do SOMETHING. It’s the gliding, the floating, the Scott Gomez stick waiving in lieu of checking that is making everyone crazy.

    Not my choice as captain. But the first goal tomorrow night might soften me a little.

    P.S. Look for a monster game from Markov tomorrow.

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