Canadiens coach Michel Therrien gave his players the day off Tuesday following their 3-1 loss to New York in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final Monday night at the Bell Centre as the Rangers took a 2-0 series lead.
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series will be Thursday night in New York (8 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
Therrien did hold a noon-hour conference call with the media.
“Today, I think it’s good for us mentally to get a day off for the players,” the coach said. “I’m anxious to see my guys tomorrow and going to New York, because you know what, we’re looking for one win. Momentum can change quick in the playoffs, so I’m really optimistic. The reason why is because of the way we were capable to compete and get engaged in our game yesterday.”
Therrien admitted that the quick turnaround from a Game 7 win over the Boston Bruins in the conference semifinals and Game 1 against the Rangers was tough for his team.
“Yes, the first game was tough for us, emotionally it was tough for us, physically it was tough for us,” he said. “We didn’t get much time between Game 7 and Game 1 and it was an afternoon game and, obviously, it showed with the result. But I thought we regrouped really well from the first game. I thought yesterday we were a team that played with a lot of energy, I thought we were a team that was pushing the pace. We played a solid game.”
Therrien also had praise for the Rangers.
“Obviously, this is a good hockey team,” he said.
The coach added: “They got world-class players. They’re in the Eastern Conference final because they’re a good team and right now this is the best team that we’re meeting. But, you know what, I liked the way we played yesterday and that gave us confidence to approach Game 3. But definitely with the leadership of Martin St. Louis, for sure, this is a guy that won (the) gold medal at the Olympics, won (the) Stanley Cup, and he’s doing a helluva job for the Rangers.”
Therrien said his team “did a lot of good things” in the Game 2 loss, but there are other things the Canadiens need to improve on.
“One reason why that we end up losing that game is that (Rangers goalie Henrik) Lundqvist had a phenomenal game last night. But there’s things that we need to get better. I believe we gave up a little bit too many odd-man rushes. Those are the little details that we’re capable to fix. But I like the way that we were engaged in the game, I like the way that we approached the game.
“And you know what,” Therrien added, “to win hockey games, like I said yesterday, you need some breaks and we didn’t have any breaks yesterday. Right now the Rangers got their breaks and they capitalized on their breaks.”
Therrien continued: “Momentum changes very quick in the playoffs and this is by experience. You get one win and after that the momentum could change really quick. That’s our focus right now.”
You can listen to Therrien’s entire conference call by clicking here.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault met with the media in Montreal Tuesday morning before his team returned to New York and praised the Canadiens for their performance in Game 2, in which they had 41 shots on goal.
“Give Montreal full marks, they came at us real hard,” Vigneault said. ” But at the end of the day, we need to play better than we did. We can’t rely on our goaltending the way we did last night, and we’re not going to next game.”
When asked if he had an inkling which goalie the Canadiens would start in Game 3 – Dustin Tokarski or Peter Budaj – Vigneault said: “I do, but I’m not willing to share it with you.”
The Canadiens will practise at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Brossard before heading to New York.
(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)
(Video by The Gazette’s Brenda Branswell)