CORAL SPRINGS, FL - The Canadiens hit the ice for a high tempo skate in their final practice of the 2011 calendar year as they prepare for a New Year's Eve contest against the Panthers.
Randy Cunneyworth liked the work ethi of his hockey clubc last night, and believes his team deserved a better fate.
Today consisted of some extra work on the power play with the focus on getting pucks on net with bodies in front.
Raphael Diaz, who has tallied five assists in the last two games, says the team has played noticeably different the last few games and looks forward to the Panthers game as a chance to redeem the loss in Tampa, adding the mood of the team is very positive.
Fact of the matter is the Habs are starting to look like Randy Cunneyworth's team. They have shown a much stronger forecheck over the last few games and an increased net presence. The result has been more scoring chances and the ability for the forwards to be a little more creative.
Both second period goals by the Canadiens last night were a result of driving the net. David Desharnais' goal was a shot that beat Mathieu Garon as Michael Cammalleri was heading right in front of the crease. Erik Cole drove the net with his stick on the ice and tapped in a Max Pacioretty feed.
Cunneyworth has also been working on the forward's positioning in front of the net, to cause more traffic and increase deflections.
The New Year's Eve game against the Panthers could go a long way in the Habs efforts to climb back into a Top 8 spot in the Eastern Conference. A win and solid performance could show the team has turned a corner and that Tampa was the result of some bad breaks.
It also is an opportunity to end the year on a high note and set up the month of January that is filled with home games against Eastern opponents.
Look for Carey Price to get the start in goal.
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