In the Habs Room: ‘I think this team is mentally tired,’ coach says

“They had a tough, tough season,” Martin St. Louis says after Canadiens lose their third straight game and drop to 3-6-1 in their last 10.

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Canadiens looked like the second-worst team in the NHL during Wednesday night’s 5-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

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They Canadiens haven’t looked this bad since Martin St. Louis took over from Dominique Ducharme as head coach on Feb. 9, but they have now lost three straight and are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. With eight games remaining in the season, the Canadiens have a 20-43-11 record and are two points ahead of the last-place Arizona Coyotes (22-46-5), who hold a game in hand.

The positive part of that is that the Canadiens’ chance of winning the NHL Draft lottery improves with each defeat.

The Canadiens are now 12-13-4 with St. Louis behind the bench.

“I think this team is mentally tired — and I get it,” St. Louis said after the game. “They had a tough, tough season. And then coaches change and I’m asking them a lot and implementing so many things. So there’s a lot going on for them in terms of handling all that mentally and stuff and we looked a little tired mentally tonight. We’ll probably get a day off tomorrow and just get ready for the two games this weekend.”

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The Canadiens have back-to-back games Friday and Saturday night at the Bell Center against the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals.

Veteran defenseman Joel Edmundson didn’t want to use fatigue as an excuse after the loss to the Blue Jackets.

“Everyone’s played the same amount of games, right?” Edmundson said. “There’s no excuses for the way we played. There’s going to be nights you’re tired, but you got to find a way to grind through that. I’m sure they have guys that are tired. It’s a long season, but it’s not an excuse. You got to be ready to play every night.”

The Blue Jackets, who improved to 35-33-6, are also going to miss the playoffs this season

Edmundson insisted the spark the Canadiens received when St. Louis took over as head coach isn’t starting to fade.

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“I think we’re still very excited Marty’s here and we still have that spark,” the defenseman said. “We love coming to the rink every day. He’s definitely teaching us every day. We go to the rink and we’re learning something new. In losses like this we try to find some things that we can get better at and learn from it. So try to take a negative and turn it into a positive but, at the same time, you want to put a full 60 in and get a win. You just can’t keep getting outshot like that. I look back at the last 10 games, we’ve been outshot every game. You’re not going to win hockey games like that.”

In fact, the Canadiens have been outshot in nine of their last 10 games and they were outshot 31-21 by the Blue Jackets.

Ryan Poehling scored the lone goal for the Canadiens on the power play. It was his sixth goal of the season and his first by him in his last 27 games, going back to Jan. 17. It was Poehling’s second power-play goal as he deflected in a shot from Nick Suzuki in front of the Blue Jackets’ net.

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“It’s nice to score and at the time it got us back into the game right at the end of the period,” Poehling said about his goal at 18:09 of the second period that cut the Blue Jackets’ lead to 3-1. “So it kind of got the life up in the room.”

But the Blue Jackets suffocated that life with two more goals in the third period to put this one away.

“Every game (St. Louis) gets us fired up, he gets us excited to play,” Poehling said. “I can only do so much. It’s us 20 guys that go out there and play. We’re the ones lacing them up and we got to perform and tonight we just didn’t do that. Give them credit, they played us well. But it should have been a closer game, that’s for sure.

“When we’re playing good we’re really good and it’s fun, it’s hard to play against, we’re fast,” Poehling said. “But we just need to work on being consistently that good. Because when you’re that good for a bit you know you have it in you, so I think we just got to work on keeping that consistency up. Because when we do that it’s a lot of fun to play and we’re really good and we’re hard to play against.”

The Canadiens weren’t hard to play against on this night.

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