MONTREAL — Don’t bother looking for any positives in the Canadiens’ 7-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Monday night at the Bell Centre.
There weren’t any.
“It’s very simple, it’s a game of pride,” said a disappointed coach Michel Therrien. “You have to come to the rink and be ready to play. You have to pay attention to details and that’s what we haven’t done the last two games and you see the results.”
The Canadiens have thrived on bouncing back after losses and there was every reason to think they had something to prove after losing to the Maple Leafs 5-1 in Toronto Saturday night.
Instead, they were outmatched in every aspect of the game as the struggling Flyers snapped a four-game losing streak.
“There’s no work ethic, no intensity,” said Therrien.
Tomas Plekanec said the loss was worse than the game in Toronto because “even though we lost in Toronto, we were skating and got a lot of shots.”
It was another shaky night for Carey Price, who gave up six goals on 29 shots before he was yanked after two periods, and Andrei Markov continued to show signs of wear and tear. He was minus-2 and is minus-10 over the past 10 games.
But Therrien declined to talk about specific players, saying: “It’s so general. Everyone involved in tonight’s game was not good.”
Therrien was asked if the team was experiencing a natural letdown after clinching a playoff spot.
“I hope not,” he replied.
Plekanec echoed those sentiments when he said the team talked about maintaining its focus.
“Ever since we clinched the playoffs, we’ve talked about how we have to keep playing,” said Plekanec. “We don’t have a button where we can turn it on and off when the playoffs come.
“We need to start skating more,” he added. “We have to play that aggressive style we played. Tonight, we lost a lot of battles, we should have played better. We have to go back to our games. When we were skating, we were faster and quicker.”
Therrien has talked about giving some of his players some time off before the playoffs, but Markov didn’t seem to feel he needed any rest.
“I’m still young, I’m only 34,” said Markov. “Sometimes it can help you, but I feel very good. I’m happy to play every game.”
But Markov was not happy with the recent results.
“It’s a bad feeling,” he said. “We didn’t play hard enough the last two games so we have to regroup and be ready for the next games.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Canadiens are in Pittsburgh Wednesday and are back home Thursday against Tampa Bay.
“We can’t do anything about the schedule,” said Therrien. “We would like more time to work with the players.”
While Price’s goals-against average and save percentage have taken a beating, his teammates expressed faith in his ability.
“He’s a great goaltender (and) it’s not easy to play the same every game,” said Markov. “Other players can make a mistake and your partner can cover for you. We’re going to support him.”
“We didn’t help him,” said Plekanec. “He made some big stops in the first period or it could have been worse than a 2-1 game.”
“This isn’t on Carey,” said Brendan Gallagher, who scored his 13th goal to tie Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau for the lead among rookies. “We gave up 2-on-1s and 3 on 2s. He gave us a chance. It was a 2-1 game because he was so good.”
Gallagher said the Canadiens will have to tighten their defence for the Penguins.
“We know the style Pittsburgh plays and if we get playing their game, it will be worse than tonight,” he said. “We have to work harder. Our game is to frustrate the opposition, work hard down low. Tonight, they did it to us.”
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