MONTREAL – As the NHL enters its late season stretch run, the Montreal Canadiens find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
Eight losses in their last 10 games have dropped the Canadiens to 15th in the Eastern Conference and 28th in the league.
Saturday’s 3-1 setback against the Toronto Maple Leafs was yet another defeat to a team outside the playoff picture.
“Nobody likes to lose, that’s for sure. I thought we did some good things (against Toronto) but at the end of the day it wasn’t enough,” said Habs winger Erik Cole.
Usually when March rolls around Montreal finds itself in the heat of the battle for a spot in the post-season. The Canadiens have made the playoffs every year but one since the lockout and missed them just twice since 2002-03.
For a team in the mix, finding that extra gear is easy. But the Canadiens know their reality.
“Obviously it’s tough sometimes when you’re in the position you’re in to find that motivation. But, we’ve just got to keep working and pushing each other for more,” said defenceman Josh Gorges. “I think that’ll be the job of the veteran guys—to make sure that we keep asking everything from everybody until the final game and we don’t stop.”
The trying season has been a wave of emotions for goaltender Carey Price. Despite the team’s misfortunes, he’s played well most nights and given his teammates a chance.
“I’m over being frustrated. I’m just trying to do my job to the best of my ability,” Price said. “I’m disappointed.”
Gorges does believe, however, he and his teammates can get back on track and at least finish a disappointing season on a positive note.
“We’ve just got to take it one day at a time. It’s not going to be a switch that gets flipped and all of a sudden everything’s different and changed,” he said. “It’s a process and we’ve got to work at it and we’ve got to get better each day.
“I think as long as we come with the right mindset and are working towards the right direction, we’ll be OK and we’ll succeed more than we won’t. But we have to make sure we stay focused on that task and we don’t stray away from it.”