MONTREAL – Some players might chalk up leading their club in points for two consecutive years as a sure sign of success, but Max Pacioretty isn’t one of them.
Despite co-leading the team with 15 goals this season with Brendan Gallagher and amassing 39 points in 44 games, Pacioretty’s lack of offensive output during his first career postseason appearance has left him hungry for more.
“I’m not happy with how I played, especially in the playoffs,” affirmed the 24-year-old, who was held pointless in four games during the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Senators after suffering a separated shoulder in Game 1. “I know there are ways I can be more effective to help the team. I’m going to work on some of that over the summer. I know I have a long time to think about it, and I’ll come to camp ready to go.”
If history is any indication, Pacioretty should be taken at his word. Returning to action just eight days after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in late January, the New Canaan, CT native’s ability to bounce back has always been his trademark. With his team-first mentality in tow, the gritty left-winger is heading into the offseason ready to do everything possible to ensure another premature playoff exit isn’t on the horizon for the Canadiens in 2013-14.
To do that, the five-year NHL veteran will be making a few tweaks to his off-ice regimen this summer, especially with a far less-concentrated, 82-game schedule on tap for next year.
“I think I just have to take care of my body a little better,” explained Pacioretty, who admitted that being somewhat overanxious heading into the playoffs may have been the root cause of his injury problems in the postseason. “When you get banged up in a short season, you start to miss workouts and you start to miss a few skates that you wish you got in. It adds up over time. I think I could’ve done a much better job preparing myself for the short season. But it is what it is and I learned from the mistakes I made during the year.
“At least I got those first couple of [playoff] games out of the way,” continued the 2007 22nd overall pick. “Hopefully the next time it comes around, I know what to expect a little bit better and [I’ll] be more prepared for it.”
That progressive maturation is exactly what will take Pacioretty – and the Canadiens – to the next level when the regular season opens in October. With many critical pieces already in place, applying lessons learned in 2012-13 will be instrumental in helping the former University of Michigan standout and his fellow troops reach their winning potential.
“I think we were able to see from Day 1 that we were moving in the right direction,” noted Pacioretty, referencing the Habs’ marked improvement over the course of the last calendar year. “We were second in our conference with a lot of guys who stepped up that people [didn’t think] would even be here. The reality is that it was an even more special team in the room [than on the ice], and I think everyone wanted to go to war for each other and wanted to win so badly and help the team out. That’s what made it so hard to lose [to the Senators].”
“It’s everyone in this room,” added Pacioretty, praising the team unity the Habs exhibited throughout the abbreviated 48-game schedule. “Our team wouldn’t be upset if they didn’t change one nameplate in this room over the summer.”
Since he knows the lineup structure is out of his control, the 2012 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy winner is focusing his efforts elsewhere. Looking to build on his second consecutive season atop the Canadiens’ scoring list, he has his sights set on potentially earning a coveted roster spot with Team USA for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” confided Pacioretty on the prospect of representing the United States in Sochi, Russia next February. “I’ll take things one day at a time and do whatever I can to hopefully get on their radar. It would be an honor to potentially be talked about being on the team. I just want an opportunity to hopefully compete for a spot.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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