On a day that drove home the fact that the Montreal Canadiens have entered a new era, it was a buzzword of the previous one that kept rearing its head.
The Canadiens lost to the Boston Bruins in overtime on Monday, and did end up outplayed against a superior opponent, but they did foce overtime on what had to be an emotional day.
Artturi Lehkonen was a major part of the Canadiens room and fabric. Seeing him get traded wasn’t easy for interim head coach Martin St. Louis, who has been with the team six weeks. You can imagine what it did to players who have been with the team several years, through playoff battles and ups and downs. The hallmark of this team during last season’s playoff run was a team that was remarkably close-knit.
No one would have blamed the Canadiens if they had a bad game. After all, this is a team in last place that just lost three key pieces over the span of a few days. While the start wasn’t great, the Canadiens stuck with the playoff-bound Bruins for most of the game, and even held a lead with a few minutes remaining.
It was a game that really showed how this organization will turn things around. This was a team that looked like they would never win another game at times. Since the coaching change, you see a team that won’t back down.
Whether it was coming back from four goals down against the Winnipeg Jets, or a team bouncing back from an emotional trade deadline, the Canadiens are not folding. They are motivated, despite sitting in last place in the entire league.
The team has said on countless occasions since returning from the holiday break that they are focused on the process, on building and improving, and that wins and losses are secondary.
The Canadiens have 19 games left this season, and as healthy bodies return, they have a good chance to enter the off-season with some momentum.
The roster and the organization have undergone some significant changes, that will likely continue into the summer. There are still a good number of players on the roster who will be playing their final games in a Canadiens jersey.
Nobody would be surprised if this team wasn’t up for the fight, especially just hours after the trade deadline against a team that is loading up for a playoff run. They could have sat back and let the fight come to them.
They didn’t on Monday.