Righting the ship
BROSSARD – Ahead of Monday night's tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers, topics of discussion in the Canadiens' dressing room included Carey Price, Ryan White and Brandon Prust.
No Doubt: Carey Price may have surrendered three goals on four shots to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night in just over 10 minutes of action, but the Habs are well-aware that the 25-year-old netminder has the resolve to post a stellar rebound performance and pick up his 20th win of the season on Monday night against the Flyers. Having dropped consecutive starts just three times on the year in regulation time, the Anahim Lake, B.C. native is primed for a strong outing at the Bell Centre, and his teammates know it.
“Carey, in my mind, is one of the best if not the best goalie in the league. We have a lot of confidence in him,” explained Lars Eller, noting that the Canadiens are out to prove that a tough 5-1 loss to Toronto over the weekend is already in the rear-view mirror.
“You can’t expect him to play lights-out every time he steps out onto the ice,” continued Eller. “There’s going to be breakdowns. When some of the players have a bad game, you might not always notice it the same way, but if Carey has a bad game, it becomes very noticeable. Carey had a bad 10 minutes, so that doesn’t change anything in how we view him as a teammate or a world-class goaltender. He’s going to bounce back. He’s proven in the past that he’s world-class. It’s just a part of learning. Some games, those breakdowns are going to come. We have all the confidence in the world in him, and I’m sure he has it in himself too.”
The Great White Shark: As countless NHL clubs vie for a coveted spot in the postseason, teams are more inclined to step it up in the physicality department this time of year. One player who feels particularly comfortable in that type of playing environment is Ryan White, who will return to the Habs lineup on Monday night against the Flyers.
“At this time of the season, things are starting to get a little bit tougher. The play is becoming a little more physical. It’s expected, and it’s good for me. I’m happy playing in those types of games,” explained White, who will play his first game since April 6. “I’m very excited to be able to play and help my team try to pick up a win. I’ll do everything in my power to contribute.”
With 15 healthy forwards on the active roster, White knows all too well that he likely won’t suit up for every game the rest of the way. Despite several stints on the sidelines, the 25-year-old has kept up a consistent level of game preparation, and is set to make the most of his latest opportunity to help the Canadiens bolster their lead atop the northeast division.
“It’s a part of the business, a part of the game,” said White. “We’ve got a few guys in here who are in the same situation. It makes things a little easier because we work together to make sure that we’re ready in case that we’re needed. Tonight, it’s my night and I’m very excited.”
The Luxury of Winning: Securing a playoff spot with eight games remaining in the regular season certainly has its advantages. Among them, the ability for head coach Michel Therrien to afford several of his players some valuable rest as the Habs look to head into the playoffs with all of their troops feeling as fresh as possible following a demanding 48-game calendar.
“We’re in a position where we’ve locked up a spot in the playoffs with two weeks to go in the season. We’ve got to have good communication with the medical staff and the players to ensure that when the playoffs start, the guys will be as healthy as possible. We’ve got a plan in place,” confirmed Therrien, who elected to give power forward Brandon Prust the night off against the Flyers, but insisted that the London, ON native was not being sidelined due to injury, and would return to action on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
“We have no intention of leaving [Prust] on the sidelines for 10 days,” added Therrien. “When we’re able to give days off to players that need them, we won’t hesitate to do it.”