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The Canadiens’ players need to decide what kind of team they want to be

With 37 games left to go, the season can get even longer quickly.

New Jersey Devils v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

Josh Anderson said that he was embarrassed after the Montreal Canadiens’ 7-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

The team could point to some excuses, like the fact they were coming off of a bye week, and they were rusty. That may have some merit if it wasn’t a story people watching the team have seen for most of the 45 games they have played so far this season.

Anderson was toeing the line between venting some of his frustration while being careful not to be too specific in his criticism. He said at one point that the team needs everyone to step up and play for the Canadiens logo on the front of the jersey.

It is obvious at this point that the change in emotion has to come from within. If new general manager Kent Hughes was going to bail the players out with a coaching change, it would have happened during the bye week. Yes, Marc Bergevin fired Claude Julien three games after the bye last season, but that team was fighting for a playoff spot.

As bad as it seems at times, this team is not talentless. A lot of the players fans are getting on for being terrible, or playing terribly, were key members of a team that went to the Stanley Cup Final. As surprising as that run was, the team earned every one of their 13 wins.

With that said, it’s entirely fair to expect this team to play better. No one should expect this team to go on a run of wins. No one should even expect this team to win half of their games. What should be expected every night is at least a little bit of fight. Of their last 12 regulation losses since December, 10 of them have been by three goals or more.

Yes, some of that is due to subpar goaltending. Yes, some of that is due to a depleted lineup. There is no excuse for this team to be blown out practically every game.

This season will be bad. Even if the team starts to play better, it will be bad. It may even be historically bad. People can blame coaching, and that will certainly be handled at the end of the season. It is clear that there is some disconnect between what the coaching staff wants the players to do and the execution.

Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme said that the Devils were opportunistic, and they were. They definitely took advantage of their opportunities. The issue then becomes why the Canadiens gave New Jersey so many of them, and how they get that to change.

It’s easy to blame coaching, and certainly they deserve a good part of the blame. At a certain point, however, the Canadiens players need to step up and decide whether they really want to try and turn the results around.

The players all have said that they haven’t gotten accustomed to losing, and that they all want to win. Nick Suzuki said that if the team had given up it would be obvious. If this isn’t already it, I don’t want to see what obvious is.