Although the Montreal Canadiens have lost eight-straight games in a row, there is a surge of locker room optimism in Montreal with Martin St. Loius now serving as the interim head coach. After coaching his first game with the Habs just one day after being hired to replace Dominique Ducharme, St. Louis held his first team practice.
Carey Price, Shea Weber, and Joel Edmundson remain on the injured reserve. Jonathan Druin remains out, and Christian Dvorak is day-to-day. Nevertheless, the rest of the Habs roster collectively soaked in St. Loius’ first practice in his new role.
The first time NHL head coach did not run his new team through any line drills during his first go-round. What he did do, was put the Habs into game situations with drills like 2-on-0’s, 3-on-0’s, 3-on-1’s, and 3-on-3’s.
“If we just can make these plays in small areas, it will make the game on the big ice a lot easier.” said Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki who assisted on Cole Caufield‘s first goal in 17 games in a 5-2 loss Thursday at the Bell Centre.
So far, the hall of fame player and Stanley Cup champion’s enthusiasm and confidence have impressed not just young players like Suzuki but also veterans like Paul Byron.
“The challenge for [Martin St. Loius] is to build rapport with the team and to bring the team together,” Byron said. “At the beginning, from the first words he spoke, he had everyone’s attention.” Later in his press conference, he said, “There arent always people who can communicate their thoughts and things they see from the game, but I think he’ll really be able to help us change things in our head.”
Here is what the Montreal Canadiens looked like on the ice at the Bell Sports Complex Friday as they prepare for a contest with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday:
Artturi Lehkonen-Nick Suzuki-Tyler Toffoli
Mike Hoffman-Paul Byron-Brendan Gallagher
Rem Pitlick-Jake Evans-Josh Anderson
Joel Armia-Ryan Poehling-Cole Caufield
Alexander Romanov-Ben Chariot
Brett Kulak-Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov-Chris Wideman