Although the Canadiens had 25 points more than last season, players had difficulty seeing the glass half full during their end-of-season check-up as they did not achieve their primary goal: the playoffs.
Nevertheless, the future is promising as the core of the team remains quite young.
“Honestly, it hurts more than last year, when we knew early in the season that we would not play in the playoffs,” said defense man Jeff Petry, comparing emotions in both runs. This time, we fought to the end. We missed the series by only a few points.
“This feeling should serve as a motivation for our preparation during the summer.”
The Canadiens beat the odds, scoring 96 points this season on a 44-30-8 record. He thus equaled a circuit record for the most points collected without participating in the playoffs. The Habs were finally eliminated last Friday, following a 3-2 shootout victory by the Columbus Blue Jackets against the New York Rangers.
Claude Julien’s troupe has played only one unimportant game this season, the latter scoring 6-5 in a shootout against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Even if the fishtail end leaves a bitter taste, the experience will be beneficial for the team in the long run.
“We sometimes forget that there are many guys who have never played in a playoff,” said captain Shea Weber. It would have been a nice experience for them. But all we’ve experienced this season, the highs and lows, and being so close will help kids realize how difficult it is to qualify for the playoffs. ”
During his April 2018 review, managing director Marc Bergevin said he wanted to see the team change its attitude. From the first day of the camp, that’s what the players applied.
They played with the desire to beat the odds and deliver the goods night after night.
“We had a good start to the season, and we took advantage of that momentum,” said Weber. We realized how much fun we had, how much better it was to play the right way, to play for each other and most importantly, to win games. ”
The result was a much better offensive than last year and a more watertight defense. Carey Price has regained its former strength and a dozen players have set personal peaks in the points.
“Some players may not have had such important roles before,” said Paul Byron when asked about the many broken individual records at the Habs. I also think Montreal is a special place. Bell Center fans are excited for every game, even on weekdays. There is a lot of media and criticism. It takes that to be your best. ”
If the players were still disappointed and pointed out that the pain will still be strong on Wednesday when the playoffs start, they were still more optimistic than last spring.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Victor Mete and Ryan Poehling, thanks to a brilliant cameo on Saturday, represent the Canadian’s future. Nick Suzuki, Alexander Romanov and other young people could quickly become involved with the nucleus, who is also quite young, including Max Domi, Jonathan Drouin and Brendan Gallagher.
The Canadian will also represent a more attractive destination than last summer for self-employed players without compensation.
“I think with the group we had this season, the young talent that’s already here and the one coming, the organization is in a good position,” Petry said. I spoke with the guys, and we have a great band. There is no ego or negative energy in the locker room. There is only positive and we are going in the right direction. We must now take another step forward. ”
WHAT THEY SAID
“We did better than most people predicted. It is certain that we are not happy to be excluded from the series, but in general, we are happy with our performance. “- Victor Mete
“Right off the bat, I felt good here. In the locker room we have a very good group. I think fans appreciate when we work hard and that’s what we’ve done all year. That’s why they stayed with us until the very end. “- Tomas Tatar, the pleasure he feels playing in Montreal when it is a stifling market for others.
“We have gained a ton of experience. We are a young hockey team and that will serve us in the future. We have fought for this place in the playoffs for the last 30 games. It was a lot of pressure, and we managed it very well. To be in the game until the very last match, I think we can build on that for next year. “- Tomas Tatar
“Maybe it’s a little harder: we were so close. It’s almost the same feeling, we have a summer to think about it. We know we had a good season, but we miss the series anyway. “- Nicolas Deslauriers, on his feelings of this end of season compared to the last.
“I would have liked to play every game. But when we have a health team like ours, that’s what happens. I’m not a stats guy, but I wish I had the chance to prove myself a bit more. At the same time, the team was doing great. […] It’s not my decision. I do not know what will happen. I will work hard this summer to fight for my place at the camp. “- Nicolas Deslauriers, about his use by Claude Julien this season.