NEWARK – Looking to reignite their game, a six-day road trip and a lot of together time may be just what the doctor ordered for the Habs.
With a 13-6-2 road record so far this season, the Canadiens have clearly handled themselves well in other team’s barns throughout 2012-13. With their second-longest road trip of the season beginning Tuesday night in New Jersey to close out thecampaign, some time together in close quarters may be exactly what the Habs need to spark themselves anew heading into the playoffs.
“We had a team dinner last night and we all got together so hopefully that kind of thing is the right recipe on this road trip and we’ll all be able to hang out a lot,” said Colby Armstrong, following the team’s Tuesday morning skate at the Prudential Center. “Little things like that help. This is the final push of the season for us to get ready and doing it together on the road might be a good thing.”
After missing the last 10 games with a knee injury, fans will see a rehabbed Armstrong back in the Habs lineup to face the Devils. A great team player, not to mention one that has the potential to provide a lot of energy on the ice, the 30-year-old forward is clearly as eager as the rest of the team to get back to their winning ways.
“I’m ready to go, I’m excited to get out there and the whole team obviously needs to bounce back so I hope I can be a part of it,” added Armstrong, who will replace Travis Moen on the fourth line in the company of Brandon Prust and Jeff Halpern. “We want to get back to having some fun in our game, not squeezing our sticks too tight. We were pretty automatic for a while with the way we were playing and we want to get back to that mindset and that focus.”
Across the visitors’ dressing room, potential Calder Trophy candidate Brendan Gallagher shared his teammate’s sentiment that the Canadiens’ three-game road trip could be the perfect way to ease a little tension and finish the season on a high note.
“It’ll be a good chance to find ourselves again. To all be together like this, to get in some laughs and reestablish ourselves as a group should be a great thing before heading into the playoffs,” assessed Gallagher, the current owner of 13 goals and 25 points in his rookie campaign. “We know the things we have to do to win, we just have to get back to our game and make sure we execute those things.
“We want to go into the playoffs with a lot of confidence and that’s all we’re thinking about at the moment,” he added. “Whatever the results are, we just want to make sure we feel that we’re putting forth a good effort and are finding consistency.”
A few hours away from his team’s third-last game of the season, head coach Michel Therrien took a moment to speak with the media about Armstrong’s return to action and the challenge of each of his squad’s remaining match-ups.
“Colby is ready to play and we’re very happy to have him back in our lineup. I met with Travis this morning to explain my decision to him. In his case, we’d like to see a bit more intensity from him on the ice and the next time he’s back in the lineup, I’m sure that’s what we’ll get from him,” underlined Therrien, whose Habs will have a chance to sweep their season series with the Devils on Tuesday night.
“This is a team that plays well and doesn’t give up a lot of scoring chances or shots on goal. They’re going to have young players in their lineup that will be looking to make a name for themselves in the NHL,” concluded Therrien. “At this point of the season, every game is a tough game to play and it’s not always for the same reasons.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com
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