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Sports In the Habs' Room: 'Our goal is not to stop here,' coach Ducharme says

09:50  08 june  2021
09:50  08 june  2021 Source:   montrealgazette.com

Stu Cowan: Canadiens well served by belief in coach Ducharme's system

  Stu Cowan: Canadiens well served by belief in coach Ducharme's system Dominique Ducharme is back where it all began for him as interim head coach of the Canadiens. Ducharme replaced Claude Julien on Feb. 24, the morning after the Canadiens lost 5-4 in overtime to the Senators in Ottawa. The Canadiens boarded a plane later that day and flew to Winnipeg, where Ducharme would make his NHL head-coaching debut the next night. Without the benefit of a practice with their new head coach, the Canadiens lost 6-3 to the Jets. On Tuesday, Ducharme and the Canadiens were back in Winnipeg after beating the Maple Leafs 3-1 in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series Monday in Toronto.

They were followed by interim head coach Dominique Ducharme . Here are a few highlights from their respective chats Danault on the Habs ' success against Winnipeg: We started the series with momentum coming off our Price on earning a spot in the Stanley Cup Semifinals: I said at the start of the year that every They were among the top teams in the League. Our goal isn't to stop here .

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a man wearing a helmet and holding a baseball bat: Canadiens' Tyler Toffoli, left, celebrates his game- and series- winning goal with team-mates Cole Caufield and Erik Gustafsson, right, Monday night at the Bell Centre. © Provided by The Gazette Canadiens' Tyler Toffoli, left, celebrates his game- and series- winning goal with team-mates Cole Caufield and Erik Gustafsson, right, Monday night at the Bell Centre.

After Tyler Toffoli sent the Canadiens into the Stanley Cup semifinals with the winning goal in overtime, he went in search of rookie Cole Caufield, whose cross-ice pass made the score possible.

“He’s just a little guy, I couldn’t find him out there,” Toffoli said after the Canadiens edged the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 at the Bell Centre to complete a sweep of the best-of-seven North Division final.

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Caufield is 5-foot-7, but he has been standing out in the crowd after watching the first two playoff games from the press gallery.

He’s a lot better than what I was when I came into the league,” Toffoli said. “He’s just a great player. Every time the puck’s on his stick, something good happens.”

Caufield earned a reputation as a goal-scorer at the U.S. junior and college levels, but while he’s waiting for his first NHL playoff goal, he has shown an ability as a playmaker. He threaded a pass through the crease to set up Nick Suzuki for a  power-play goal Sunday night, and he showed no hesitation on his pass to Toffoli.

It took a perfect pass and a perfect shot to beat Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who made 39 saves in a valiant effort to stave off elimination.

Canadiens hope to pick up where they left off, Gallagher says

  Canadiens hope to pick up where they left off, Gallagher says The Canadiens brought in a guest speaker Wednesday and Brendan Gallagher, who is an expert on passion, said Hall of Famer Bob Gainey delivered a passionate message as he spoke about playing on five Stanley Cup-winning teams. “There are not many organizations that can count on former players as experienced as ours, and we were fortunate to have one with us today,” Gallagher said after the Canadiens held an off-ice workout as they await the winner of the West Division final between the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche.

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Carey Price wasn’t as busy. He faced only 16 shots, but he made a game-saving stop on Paul Stastny late in the third period. After Monday’s win, he leads the NHL with a .935 save percentage in the playoffs.

The Canadiens were playing their 11th game in 19 nights, but the sweep means they will have an opportunity for some rest and quality practice time. Montreal will face the winner of the Vegas Golden Knights-Colorado Avalanche series. The teams are currently tied 2-2 and the earliest it can finish is Thursday.

Coach Dominique Ducharme, who deserves to have the interim tag dropped from his title, said the players will get a well-deserved day off Tuesday and he and his staff will work on a plan for the next series.

No matter which team the Canadiens face, they will be the underdogs in the next round, but Ducharme said he welcomed the challenge after a season of games against Canadian rivals.

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  Canadiens Game Day: Erik Gustafsson replaces Brett Kulak for Game 5 Head coach Dominique Ducharme will make one change to his lineup with the Canadiens facing elimination in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Maple Leafs Thursday night in Toronto (7 p.m., CBC, SN, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). Defenceman Erik Gustafsson, who has been a healthy scratch since the start of the playoff series, will replace Brett Kulak and join Jon Merrill on the third pairing. Gustafsson and Merrill were both acquired by GM Marc Bergevin before the NHL trade deadline. Defenceman Alexander Romanov will be a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game.

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“It will give us more work,” Ducharme said. “Obviously, we knew a lot about the teams we faced. It’s good to measure yourself against the best. (Colorado and Vegas) finished among the best teams in the league. Our goal is not to stop here. If we want to achieve our goal, we have to beat the best teams. ”

The Canadiens were the last team to qualify for the playoffs, but Ducharme said the puzzle began to come together before a rocky finish to the regular season. He noted that the Canadiens had a 14-game stretch in which they twice went through a six-game run without a regulation loss. A failure to win overtime games coloured the perception  of the team which emerged from a COVID outbreak to face more adversity in what Ducharme described as a storm.

With Monday’s win, the Canadiens are 3-0 in overtime games and they haven’t trailed since Game 4 of the Toronto series.

The Canadiens are in the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2014, but captain Shea Weber put  the success in perspective.

“To be honest, we haven’t proven anything yet,” Weber said. “It doesn’t mean much. It is a step in the right direction and we are moving forward. This is one more step toward our final goal, but we certainly cannot be satisfied.”

phickey@postmedia.com

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The Canadiens will be allowed to welcome fans to the Bell Centre for Game 6 of their North Division semifinal series Saturday, but the smart money says the team will spend the weekend cleaning out their lockers. The Canadiens were pushed to the brink of elimination Tuesday when they dropped a 4-0 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs to fall behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven North Division semifinal. Montreal has scored only four goals in four games, but the Canadiens insist the series won’t end Thursday in Toronto. “We have to play like it’s our last game,” said defenceman Jeff Petry.

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