I think most of the media group was surprised at the subdued tone of Jacques Martin’s post game news conference Saturday night. One could legitimately think a good mood was be in order after three straight wins against Eastern Conference rivals and the end of a six game losiing streak. At the time I thought his mood had something to do with the type of two-game push-back the Bruins offered which, over five periods seemed to go from bad to worse.
Turns out, Martin is cautious about putting the cart before the horse. He brought everyone back to earth during today’s session with reporters. He points out that his team is still sub-500 with ten of a possible twenty-two points after eleven games. And, they’re in eleventh place in the Eastern Conference.
Last season the Canadiens finished 6th in the East with 96 points, fourteen points over .500. To equal that, they’ll need to be fifteen points better than break-even through their final 71 games.
The pressure on the Canadiens is self-inflicted. Few teams in today’s eighty-two game NHL schedule escape a prolonged slump somewhere along the way. Suffering one at the beginning of the season, though leaves a team with little wriggle room later on.
Now, if they could find a way to beat the Senators and Rangers this weekend…….
…….Andrei Markov skated apart from his teammates today, his second straight day on the Brossard ice and his fist sessions in a month. His routine right now is off-ice training twice a day surrounding his on-ice work.
…….Scott Gomez skated under the supervision of team therapist Graham Rynbend as well. Martin says he will not play this weekend in Ottawa and New York. Gomez suffered a suspected shoulder injury in Pittsburgh ten days ago.
………No surprise, one day after being named Player of the Week by the NHL, Carey Price was named Player of the Month of October by the Canadiens. We should worry about when he’s not named player of the month. Price was either first or second star in all four of the Canadiens October wins; first star at Winnipeg and last week’s two games against Boston. He was second star vs. Philadelphia last week. Price finished ahead of Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole. He was 4-4-2 record in 10 games in October, with a 2.59 goals against average, stopping 235 of the 261 shots for a .900 save percentage. He also earned his 100th NHL career regular season win on October 26 against the Flyers.
…….There’s a price to be paid for a two day break The Canadiens shook off whatever rust might have accumulated with a team meeting followed by a warm-up session, a one hour practice then dry land training on the Brossard indoor soccer pitch.
…….The six day schedule gap ends Friday when the Canadiens start on a November schedule that will see the team play fourteen games in twenty-seven days.including back-to-back four-game weeks.