(Tampa) Jake Allen was the first to arrive at Canadiens practice on Friday noon, somewhere in a suburban arena not far from Tampa.
Allen, who the day before had given up 6 goals on 18 shots to the Florida Panthers, spent long minutes with Éric Raymond, the goalkeeper coach. Trips here. Other trips there. A position in front of his net, then another. Samuel Montembeault also arrived, to do the same thing.
After practice, Allen chose to answer questions candidly.
“Thursday’s game was not a good game for me,” he began by admitting. It was not a good match for anyone, but I take responsibility for that. It was a tough start for both clubs, but I wasn’t good enough… I’ve had tough outings before, but maybe not that bad. »
The veteran admitted he didn’t watch any footage of Thursday night’s game against the Panthers, who won by a 9-5 mark, probably because there was nothing good to take away from it -inside.
He’s not going to get the start this Saturday at the Lightning’s home — Montembeault will have that privilege for the third game in a row — but he swears he’ll be ready next time.
“I will continue to be myself…I come to the arena to work every day. I don’t take any days off. I really try to be the best version of myself in order to help this club.
“It’s never easy to come into a game cold and take another goalkeeper’s place, but whatever, I wasn’t good enough. When I got in front of goal it was 3-2, but I allowed six goals. »
In such a season of misery and disappointment, there are obviously many culprits, and Jake Allen is far from the only one currently looking for himself in the Montreal camp.
But the veteran has allowed six goals in each of his last two games, and if the season ended today, his .892 save percentage would be the worst of his career, having never fallen below the bar of .900 since joining the NHL in 2012-2013.
Martin St-Louis acknowledges that it’s not that easy these days.
“You have to have a plan, a message, you can’t just move on after a game like this,” noted the head coach. I’ve never seen a first period the same… I know there were bad luck, bad leaps. What kept us really competitive for a while, like the defensive game, slowly, from the game against Colorado, we started to move away from that a little bit. »
Jake Allen just wants the chance to recover as soon as possible.
There were two absentees at training for the Canadian, Friday noon in Florida, and one of them had to be absent for disciplinary reasons.
Martin St-Louis has confirmed that Jonathan Drouin did not take part in training due to disciplinary measures. The Quebec forward had missed a team meeting earlier in the morning.
Obviously angered by the situation, St. Louis wouldn’t say if Drouin would have to pay a fine, or if he would also be suspended for the next game.
“It’s the culture that’s important,” added the Montreal driver. It’s more important than anyone. »
Moreover, the Canadian would have a hard time suspending Drouin for Saturday night’s game, quite simply because in the immediate term, there would be no one to replace him, unless the club decides to play with a formation of 11 forwards and 7 defensemen in Tampa.
The other absentee on Friday, defender Kaiden Guhle, was due to undergo medical treatment.
The Lightning announced with great fanfare Friday night, at a ceremony in Tampa, the induction of three of its former members into the club’s Hall of Fame: Phil Esposito, Martin St-Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier.
St-Louis admitted that he might not be in the mood for such an honor right now.
“It’s flattering, but it’ll be hard to get your head around it!” admitted the one who was a Lightning forward from 2000 to 2014. My head is not bad elsewhere … But I’m glad to see that they have made their own Hall of Fame here in Tampa. »
St-Louis of course had good words for Lecavalier, with whom he won the Cup here in 2004.
“We grew up together. We have reached our full potential here. Two different paths, but we needed both to reach our full potential.
“I grew up with Éric Perrin as a center player. Vincent, it was the first time without Eric Perrin where it was the same, because we were on the ice. And also, when I played with Vincent, I didn’t get bullied. A lot of times, Vincent would stop playing hockey, and he would butt heads with a guy, because the guy hit me dirty. On the bench, he would ask me if the blow I had just suffered was a vicious blow, and if I said yes, the next presence, he was not playing hockey anymore! It made me get bigger on the ice. »