Notebook - March 15, 2012
BROSSARD -- Price on shootout strategy, Eller on his polite chat with Erik Karlsson and Cunneyworth talks therapy days.
Expect the unexpected: After struggling for a large part of the season, the Canadiens certainly seem to have found their shootout mojo of late. On top of winning four of their last five games that have gone to shootouts, Carey Price can now also count himself as the only goalie this season to have stopped Sens captain, Daniel Alfredsson, who was 5-for-5 before squaring off against Price. Like the Habs netminder explained, while shooters have a bag-o’-tricks to choose from – goalies do, too.
“I think the difference comes from being a little less predictable. When you’re able to keep the shooters guessing a bit and keep them unsure of what you’re going to do, it’s an important thing. I’ve tried a lot of different things this season that I normally wouldn’t do and a lot of the times it’s worked – so like I said, it really helps to be unpredictable,” explained Price who proved his point, catching Milan Michalek completely off guard with a lunging poke-check on the Senators' first attempt.
“A lot of times it’s a bit of a coin toss and there’s a definitely luck involved,” added Price. “At the end of the day, for us, it was pretty important. The guys shooting are a little more confident now and we’ve been having some pretty good success lately.”
Talking it out: Both penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, the on-ice conversation between Lars Eller and Erik Karlsson continued loudly and for several minutes afterwards through the plexi-glass walls of the penalty box. While it would have likely been fun to listen in, it probably wouldn't have done many people much good anyways – unless of course, they speak Swedish.
“I know Erik. We’ve played together in the past. What you say on the ice stays on the ice though. We’ll keep it between ourselves, but I will tell you that we had the discussion in Swedish. That’s all,” dropped Eller, who played two seasons alongside Karlsson in the Swedish Elite League.
“They’re playing for a spot in the playoffs. We’re playing for pride. We’d love to spoil the party for a few of the teams ahead of us,” continued Eller on the subject of the seventh place Senators who sit only one point behind the third place Bruins. “There are no easy games. I don’t know how the Senators approach their games, but if they think we’re going to give them an easy time, they’re wrong. We’re not going to stop playing and we’re not just going to hand over two points.”
You need therapy: After going 483 days without playing a hockey game, it’s normal to take a while to get back to top shape. Since his return, Andrei Markov has played around 17 minutes in each of his three games this season, and for that reason, Randy Cunneyworth thought it wise to give his defenseman a therapy day instead of another intensive practice.
“Markov is doing well. This is just a routine therapy day. It’s all part of coming back and getting into shape for contact again. This has nothing to do with his injury, but just all the other parts that get banged when you’re not used to getting hit regularly. Our trainers are working with him today so he’ll be ready to play. I think it’s the right move for a guy who’s just played three games after a long absence,” explained Cunneyworth who also saw Josh Gorges and Erik Cole take similar days. Cole’s therapy day can likely be attributed to a hard hit he took in Wednesday night’s game that dropped him to the ice for several moments.
“He gets banged up almost every game he plays,” continued Cunneyworth. “That’s just the kind of player he is. He goes hard to the net and he hits hard. He could probably benefit from a therapy day after every game.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.