Sunday has normally been a day of rest for the Canadiens this season, but following Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre coach Michel Therrien had the Habs players on the ice at 11 a.m. Sunday in Brossard for a practice.
The forward lines at practice were: Bourque-Plekanec-Gionta; Pacioretty-Desharnais-Gallagher; Ryder-Eller-Galchenyuk; Moen-Halpern-Blunden; Prust-Dumont-Armstrong; White.
Defence pairings were: Markov-Subban; Gorges-Diaz; Bouillon-Weber; Kaberle-Drewiske.
“Today was about us getting better. It wasn’t a punishment or anything like that,” P.K. Subban told reporters in Brossard following practice. “It was about us getting back to doing the things that have made us successful. Sometimes you need to refresh your memory. The exciting thing about today is it’s another chance to get better and get ready for the next game. There’s a lot to play for right now and I think it’s about bringing our focus back to the forefront of exactly what we need to get focused on to be ready for the playoffs.”
Following Saturday’s game, defenceman Josh Gorges told reporters that the team was “soft”, having given up 25 goals while losing four of the last five games.
“I’ve been through enough (to know) you can’t just show up in Game 1 of the playoffs and think ‘now I’m going to start playing, now our team’s going to click.’ That doesn’t work,” Gorges said. “We have to make sure we’re prepared this week and have the effort. If we get scored on, so what? We have to bounce back and have that championship mentality.”
The 25 goals against in the last five games have come on 149 shots for an .832 team save percentage. In Carey Price’s last five appearances dating back to April 13 in Toronto – when he was pulled for the first of what would be two straight starts – he has a save percentage of .830 (19 goals on 112 shots). Price, who has a 20-12-4 record, has seen his goals-against average go up to 2.59, ranking 29th in the NHL, and his save percentage drop to .905, ranking 33rd. Price is 4-8 in his last 12 starts dating back to March 23.
Saturday was the final regular-season home game for the Canadiens, who wrap up the schedule with a three-game road trip this week with stops in New Jersey on Tuesday, Winnipeg on Thursday and Toronto on Saturday.
“We’ve got to focus on our defensive game,” Therrien said. “We have a week to go, three games, and I’m convinced we’ll be ready for the playoffs.”
The Boston Bruins ended a four-game winless streak with a 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers Sunday afternoon, moving them into a tie with the Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division with 59 points. The Bruins have four games remaining in the regular season, one more than Montreal.
The Canadiens will practice at 11 a.m. Monday at the Bell Centre downtown before heading to New Jersey.
(Photo by Pierre Obendrauf/The Gazette)