Following a 1-0 overtime loss to the Bruins Thursday night at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens didn’t practise on Friday before flying to Boston for Game 5 Saturday night (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690) with the Eastern Conference semifinal series tied 2-2.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien held a conference call Friday morning with reporters and the main topic of conversation was the struggles of the three members who used to make up the team’s No. 1 line: David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty and Thomas Vanek. Desharnais and Pacioretty have one goal each in eight playoff games, while Vanek has scored three times. Desharnais and Pacioretty had one shot each in Game 4, while Vanek failed to get a shot on goal. Vanek has four shots on goal in the four games against Boston.
When asked if he could explain Vanek going without a shot in Game 4, Therrien said: “Tough for me to answer that.”
Vanek has been dropped from the top line in favour of Brendan Gallagher and has been put on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Michael Bournival.
Therrien noted that the intensity level in the NHL is at a certain point at the beginning of the season, raises by the middle of the season, goes up again at the end of the regular season and then “goes to another level” in the playoffs.
“From our standpoint, our good athletes offensively, they got to make sure they adjust to the intensity of the playoffs and fight through those adversities and make sure that they’re impact players, because I always believe that there’s a certain way to play the game,” Therrien said.
“Early in the season, the intensity is at one level and after that the more the season goes on and on the level of intensity it’s always higher. But when we get to the playoffs this is where it reaches the peak and you want to make sure your offensive guys are capable to adjust to the intensity so they could be successful offensively and be successful defensively as well.”
Therrien had praise for his third defence pair of Mike Weaver and Douglas Murray, who were on the ice for the Game 4 overtime goal by Matt Fraser.
“I thought they played really well,” the coach said. “I thought they were physical, I thought they were blocking shots, they contained really well for the most part of the game. Guys like Douglas Murray, he’s a tough customer. He’s tough to play against. He’s physical and certainly he’s a presence out there for us and I thought Weaver and Murray did a fantastic job for us.”
Therrien added about his team as a whole: “I like the way we’re playing. Anything can happen in a best two-out-of-three situation. We’re gaining confidence every game.”
(Photo by The Gazette’s Allen McInnis)
(Game 4 locker-room videos by The Gazette’s Brenda Branswell)