Jonathan Drouin was already gone when the Canadiens locker room was opened to the media after practice Friday in Brossard.
These are some tough times for Drouin, who is pointless in 14 of his last 15 games. He had four assists in an 8-1 win over the Red Wings in Detroit on Feb. 26.
The Canadiens have a 6-9-0 record during the last 15 games and have fallen out of a playoff spot. Drouin has been the target of much criticism in the media that covers the team and also from fans on social media.
“That’s part of playing in this market,” Gallagher said. “For him, I think you just look down the room at (Carey Price) and Pricey is the all-time wins leader (in franchise history) and he went through the same thing. I think that’s just part of being a star player for the Montreal Canadiens.
“The fans are so passionate, they have these expectations, but also they can get on you at times and it’s just about how you handle it,” Gallagher added. “Whether you’re going good or going bad it can’t change the way you act and I think he’s actually been working really hard lately. He’s been moving his feet. He’s not far off. He’s been working for it. You see good things in him, you see a positive attitude. So as a team, we’re not worried.”
Phillip Danault can relate to the pressure of being a French Quebecer playing for the Canadiens.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I don’t think it would happen everywhere, but it’s the market now and we’re in Montreal. It’s tough to describe, but it’s definitely hard for Jo. We don’t want to read anything, but sometimes it comes to our ears and we don’t want to hear that. But he’s just got to stay positive and keep working hard.”
Another slow start
The Canadiens got off to another slow start in Thursday night’s 2-1 loss to the Islanders in New York — a problem that has plagued the team at times this season.
“When everything goes well, everybody likes the credit,” coach Claude Julien said when asked who was to blame for the slow start. “When things don’t go well, nobody should hide from criticism. As coaches, you see what happened last night. What I did today was we’re practising, we’re practising on the things we need to do. That’s my responsibility. So do coaches take responsibility? Everybody does. I think players have to take the responsibility. We try and prepare our team the best way we can. If it doesn’t work we need to find a way. So it’s about finding a solution. Nobody’s excluded from all that.”
Andrew Shaw said it’s up to the players to hold each other accountable.
“I’m one of 31 teams here that’s going to tell you right away that every team talks about keeping each other accountable,” Julien said. “This isn’t something that’s new. It’s something that goes around the league. You can interview all the players on different teams and they’ll tell you we try and keep each other accountable. That’s part of the process here.
“I think as a coach we all know it’s your responsibility to keep players accountable,” Julien added. “But what ends up happening is teams that have success are able to separate the personal and the professional. So when your best friend on the team isn’t pulling his load, you let him know and it’s not personal. It’s on the professional side of things. And when guys understand that, they’re able to separate those kind of things and it usually works out in your favour.”
Tough road ahead
Five of the Canadiens’ last 11 games are on the road and they are 3-8-0 in their last 11 road games. For the season, the Canadiens have a 17-16-3 road record.
“It always gets tough to win on the road later in the year,” Gallagher said. “That’s not a secret. It’s like that every year. Teams really tighten up when points become so critical. Teams really try to take advantage of their home games. That, obviously, is a part of it. We knew that our road record was probably going to slip, but maybe not the way it has.
“I think at the start of the year when we were having success on the road we did a really good job of really killing the crowd, using our speed line after line, going at teams,” he added. “Lately, when you think of our road games there’s been a lot of emotion in the crowd, they’ve had some pretty big chances. Obviously, Price has bailed us out a lot, but they still build momentum off those opportunities and the crowd gets into it. That’s when you kind of find yourself on your heels. There’s probably a little bit there that we can adjust and get better at.”
Gallagher was impressed by the Islanders, who have been one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season after losing John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent last summer.
“They’re tough to play against,” Gallagher said about the Islanders under new coach Barry Trotz, who won the Stanley Cup last season with the Washington Capitals. “Everyone who’s played them will say the same thing. They don’t give you a lot. There’s a reason they’ve given up the least amount of goals. They play in-your-face hockey. We were right there at the end. It comes down to who breaks first and they were able to be stronger than we were. They came away with the two points. It’s something to look at, but at the same time you move on. We got 11 games here. Go control our own destiny and do what you can do the last 11 games.”
Here’s how the forward lines and defence pairings looked at Friday’s practice:
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Domi – Shaw
Drouin – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Byron – Thompson – Weal
Extras: Weise, Hudon, Peca, Deslauriers
Mete – Weber
Kulak – Petry
Benn – Folin
The Canadiens will have a morning skate at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Brossard before facing the Blackhawks at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CITY, SNE, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio).
The Canadiens will have the day off on Sunday and have a practice scheduled for 10:45 a.m. Monday as they prepare to visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). The Canadiens will then play back-to-back home games against the New York Islanders on Thursday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio) and the Buffalo Sabres next Saturday (7 p.m., CITY, SNE, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio). That will be followed by a rare Sunday night game against the Hurricanes in Carolina (7 p.m., SN, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).
from Montreal Gazette https://montrealgazette.com/sports/hockey/nhl/hockey-inside-out/canadiens-notebook-teammates-offer-some-advice-for-jonathan-drouin