Max Pacioretty of the Canadiens celebrates his third-period goal with teammates during an NHL preseason game against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre.
Photograph by: Richard Wolowicz, Getty Images
MONTREAL - Grit.
That was a buzzword for the Canadiens heading into the new season. The team bulked up over the summer with the addition of George Parros and Douglas Murray (both of whom are now injured) and the Canadiens showed they won’t be pushed around as they engaged in five fights during Tuesday’s season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But Max Pacioretty, the Canadiens’ leading scorer in each of the past two seasons, says the new emphasis on toughness might have hurt the team in the 4-3 loss to the Leafs.
“I think we got away from what we do best,” Pacioretty said. “We’re a speedy group of players and we have to use our speed to create chances.”
Pacioretty said the added toughness is fine, but “we have to stay away from the after-the-whistle stuff.”
The Canadiens found themselves short-handed seven times in the Leafs game and Toronto scored once on the power play. When teams take a lot of penalties, it takes away from the rhythm of the game, but Pacioretty refused to use that as an excuse for his performance. The 24-year-old veteran holds himself to a high standard and wasn’t happy he was held off the scoresheet and was on the ice for a Toronto short-handed goal, finishing minus-2 on the night.
“Just speaking for myself, I’m not happy with the way I played,” he said.
Pacioretty did have a legitimate excuse because he left the game in the first period for some medical treatment on an upper-body injury. The one thing we can tell you is that Pacioretty played the final two periods with an injury that might have been a strain or a bruise on his hand or wrist, or any combination of the above. We do know he didn’t suffer a cut.
Pacioretty took a therapy day Thursday while his teammates travelled to Lac-Mégantic. He was back on the ice for practice Friday in Brossard, but Pacioretty and coach Michel Therrien said no decision had been made on whether he would face the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday night.
“I hope I’m ready to go,” said Pacioretty, who has a reputation for bouncing back from injuries.
But Therrien said there’s more involved than sucking it up and playing with pain.
“It’s not about being 100 per cent, it’s about being able to compete,” Therrien said. “I’ll talk with our medical people and we’ll make a decision tomorrow.”
When a reporter noted that Pacioretty has been unlucky when it comes to injuries, he offered an interesting perspective when he said luck has nothing to do with it.
“I think you make your own luck,” said Pacioretty, who went on to suggest he has to be more aware of when he puts himself in a vulnerable position.
That might be easier said than done when you’re an elite player who is being targeted by the opposition.
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