Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final was a wash.
Well, a whitewash, actually.
But after being blanked while the Flyers put up six in the series opener, the Canadiens have lived and learned from the outcome and are ready to rebound in Game 2 on Tuesday night.
“I think whether you win or lose, you want to take something from the game that you can improve on to the next game and I think that’s been our focus as a team throughout these playoffs,” said Dominic Moore.
The Habs know their game needs to tighten up in several areas for them to find success. It likely took up a portion of the agenda at the team’s off-day meeting. Yet while concentrating on where they went wrong is important, it’s equally so to be able to remember what they’ve done right.
“There’s a fine line between analyzing too much and worrying about too much instead of forgetting about it and going out and getting back to what has made you successful,” noted Brian Gionta. “Sometimes when you’re thinking too much on the ice, you’re not reacting. We just need to go back to basics and continue to react and play the game like we know how to play.”
Gionta and Michael Cammalleri were both limited to an uncharacteristic single shot on goal on Sunday. Gionta had another two blocked and two others miss the target while four of Cammalleri’s hit a Flyer body and one other never got near the net.
It wasn’t just some of the pucks that never reached Michael Leighton. While the journeyman goaltender made some good saves, his view was rarely obstructed. It’s an area the Canadiens will have to improve on going forward.
“You look at playoff hockey, almost every series, that’s a strategy that is used and I think you need to do that to score goals at this time of year. You don’t have the fancy plays; a lot of the goals that are scored are either [because of] a screen, tips, rebounds, and things like that,” said Jacques Martin.
Given the team’s smaller stature up front, some wondered if after Game 1, perhaps the Habs planned on steering clear of the blue paint in the Flyers end with the likes of Chris Pronger (6-foot-6, 220 pounds), Braydon Coburn (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and Matt Carle (6-foot, 205 pounds) there to protect the crease.
Gionta, who despite his size is usually on the doorstep, says that’s not the case.
“I don’t care who you’re playing against, it’s going to be a tough battle in front of the net. It’s playoff time and it gets even worse in front of there,” admitted the 5-foot-7, 173-pound winger. “I think it’s an area we need to improve on, but I don’t think it’s something we’re shying away from.”
While some fans might be getting all twisted up over a 1-0 series deficit, you won’t find the same among the players.
“We’re not happy with the start we had but ultimately, that’s what the playoffs are,” said Gionta. “You have a game, you have a day to regroup and correct things that need correcting or get prepared for the next game.
“Momentum shifts so much throughout the course of the game, throughout the course of the series. It’s the first game. There’s a lot more to this series left.”
And it begins on Tuesday night.
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Quotes from broadcast, print and online media were used in this report.