(Brossard) The long marathon that represents the regular season of the National Hockey League is coming to an end and the Montreal Canadiens hope to finish strong after two more ordinary performances.
Head coach Martin St-Louis acknowledged physical and mental fatigue may have caught up with his troops in 3-2 losses to the Philadelphia Flyers and 5-2 losses to the Florida Panthers.
Even though the Habs are no longer in the playoff race, the players still intend to end the campaign on the right foot.
“You have to find your own motivation,” noted forward Alex Belzile. We all have things to prove, both for next season and for the last games. We are professionals and we have to get our hands dirty every day. »
Jonathan Drouin admitted that this approach may have been a cliché, but he insisted that there was a kernel of truth behind it all.
“We can’t trash games because we’re out of the game,” he said.
All players continue to be evaluated by team management. The work done these days will also be beneficial when returning to work next September.
St. Louis said during the season that no one in the locker room cared about the percentages of winning the lottery for first place in the draft. This will not change during the final stretch.
“Honestly, I try to win every game,” he insisted. I believe that if you have integrity and do things the right way, the rest will sort itself out.
“So I don’t stop to think about those things. »
The Canadiens will try to get back on the winning track on Saturday night when they host the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Habs lost their first two games against Rod Brind’Amour’s squad this season. He first lost 6-2 in Carolina on February 16, before losing 4-3 in a shootout at the Bell Center on March 7.
“We know it’s going to be a good challenge,” St-Louis said. The Hurricanes are very aggressive and play at a high pace. It will force us to make good decisions under pressure and quickly.
“You always make little adjustments to your concepts depending on the opponent. I think we will have to play a little faster and probably go for simpler games. But I liked our last match against them. »
St-Louis was unable to confirm the identity of its goalkeeper leaving for the meeting.
Forward Joel Armia took part in his first unrestricted practice since being sidelined with a respiratory infection on Friday at the Bell Sports Complex.
Armia has not played since February 21. In 37 games this season, the 29-year-old Finn has four goals and seven assists.
For his part, striker Rafaël Harvey-Pinard did not participate in training, instead enjoying a day of treatment.
Harvey-Pinard finished Thursday’s game, scoring late in the third period in the Habs’ 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.
The Canadian did not specify if the 24-year-old Quebec striker was struggling with a particular ailment.
Harvey-Pinard has 14 goals and five assists in 32 games with the Habs this season.