After playing three games in four nights – and eight games in 14 nights – Canadiens coach Michel Therrien gave his tired players a day away from the rink on Monday.
Instead the players headed to the Montreal Children’s and Sainte-Justine hospitals on Monday afternoon for their annual Christmas visits to bring some holiday cheer to sick kids and their families.
“To me it’s special,” Canadiens captain Brian Gionta told reporters at Sainte-Justine on Monday about the team’s annual hospital visits.
“Obviously with three young kids (at home) and we’ve spent some time … at the Children’s Hospital before. The work that they do and everything that they are. … It’s tough days when you’re there. Hopefully you can bring a smile to some of the kids faces. You range from people that are here long-term or short term. But if you can make them forget about things for a little bit, it’s special.”
The Canadiens will play their final home game before Christmas on Tuesday night when the Phoenix Coyotes visit the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., TSN-HABS, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
“We played 11 games in less than three weeks,” Therrien told reporters after Sunday night’s 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre. “Energy-wise, I could tell they were drained. And when you’re drained, there’s no more juice, physically, you’re tired. When you’re physically tired, your execution is not quite there. You make bad decisions mentally. It goes hand in hand. What we’ve been asking of that group in the last three weeks, it’s really demanding.
“They’re human beings. They’re good athletes, but they give what they’ve got. So tomorrow they’re going to have a day off at the rink. They’re going to go visit the young kids in the hospital and we’re going to regroup for our next game (against Phoenix) Tuesday.”
After Tuesday’s game, the Canadiens visit the St. Louis Blues on Thursday and the Nashville Predators on Saturday before enjoying a one-week break in the schedule. Their first post-Christmas game will be on Saturday, Dec. 28 in Tampa.
(Photo by John Kenney/The Gazette)