The Canadian is late.
He is not late to his games, although still a little, knowing that he has allowed the first goal almost two times out of three. It’s more subtle than that.
At the beginning of the season, in an interview for the newspaperThe organization’s vice president of hockey operations, Jeff Gorton, expressed hope that his club will play “significant” games for as long as possible. Let’s say until March.
However, after 18 games, CH are already three points behind from their first 18 games of 2022-23. The campaign ended with a low harvest of 68 points, let’s remind you.
The team scores fewer goals. Defensively, it’s pretty painful; without the brilliance of the goalkeeper at the beginning of the game, the number of goals allowed would be even higher than it already is.
In the 2023-24 season. no one has won fewer games in 60 minutes than the Habs – two total, including none in November. After four consecutive defeats, the club is in the last and 15th place of its leaguee level of the Eastern Association. from the 16
Could the bike have derailed? Maybe maybe not. But to keep the dream of significant games in March alive, we will have to push hard. A bad trip to California, where the team will play three games in four days this week, may already sound the death knell for the season.
Given the reconstruction in which the organization is immersed, the standings are rarely discussed in the locker room. The players, however, still watch it, we understand.
We are in the business of winning. That is the most important thing. It is important for us to keep our jobs, and it is also important for our fans. Of course we can’t always focus on the result because there will be matches in which we play well and without a win. But our job is to win.
Sean Monahan agreed: a few wins would be welcome. For the team, obviously, but also for the players.
“We never want to find ourselves in this position,” he said. After you lose a match, you think about what you could have done better; let’s make it personal, it stays with us for a long time. We don’t want to be in that state of consciousness. We need to get back on track quickly. »
When talking about important games, Jeff Gorton warned: the management will not be obsessed with it, because “growth” has priority.
Therefore, we return to one of the key themes of Martin St-Louis’ creed: the “process” before the result.
However, the “process” is taking its toll as the Canadian has just played two of his worst matches of the season. Perhaps the worst, last Saturday, in Boston. “Unacceptable” performances, Nick Suzuki said again Monday morning.
The Montrealers made more mistakes last Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights and succumbed to a visibly better prepared opponent. On Saturday, the St-Louis players played sluggishly, the coach said the same evening.
With a calm head, the pilot returned to collapse against the Bruins. “We chased the puck because we didn’t work together on the forecheck. When the guys aren’t in place, when we don’t skate and predict, we chase the puck. Such a good team makes you pay. »
It would probably be an exaggeration to describe Monday’s practice as “punitive”. But the Canadian players worked up a good sweat. After intense one-on-one drills, mostly in confined spaces, St-Louis used the final minutes of the session to have everyone, including the goalies, skate from one end of the ice to the other. An initiative that, while not unprecedented, is certainly not unrelated to his team’s recent failures.
The goal behind this exercise? “Responsibility”, explained the coach succinctly.
The latter is known for rarely criticizing his players, at least publicly. And he doesn’t take out his bat often in practice. The last few days therefore show his anger. And that does not go unnoticed.
“It gives (his actions) a lot of impact,” Mike Matheson noted. No one questioned (his decision). When it’s normal for a coach to throw tantrums, it no longer has any impact. »
Calling your players “soft” is also considered bold, even risky. And there the message arrived.
“We were slow with the puck, we made turnovers,” Nick Suzuki said. We played poorly against a team that played hard. »
And repeat: “This is unacceptable and we know it. »
The ball is now in the players’ court to get their game, or even their season, back on the “acceptable” side. In order not to fall into insignificance long before spring.