The Montreal Canadiens entered the Christmas holidays in good spirits. They know the best is yet to come when the second half of the season starts.
"Five points out of a possible six in our last three games, it is not bad at all," said head coach Guy Carbonneau. "Six would have been better."
Carbonneau said that the players will be able to spend some quality time with their families. He told them to clear their heads and recharge their batteries before getting to the midseason at the beginning of 2009.
"I want us to come back with a whole new attitude," said Carbonneau. "Something comparable to what we were last season. We can't really say that we had a bad start, but we know we can do better. Now the sprint has started."
The Canadiens should see the return of Saku Koivu and Andrei Kostitsyn in their next game on Dec. 27 in Pittsburgh.
After playing the last 10 out of 11 games on their home ice at the Bell Temple, the team will compete five out of its next six matchups on the road.
"It will be great to find ourselves together after a long home game stretch," said Carbonneau. "There will be little to no distractions."
Carbonneau wants to see more from his power play and penalty kill units.
"We will concentrate more energy on those aspects. On the penalty kill, we have to be better, especially in crucial moments," said Carbonneau.
On Sunday's game against the Hurricanes, Mike Komisarek wasn't feeling well for the second day in a row. During Saturday's game, he was weakened by a virus, which was why he wasn't on the ice that much in the third period.
"I wasn't feeling good at all," said Komisarek. "I had to go vomit between shifts, between periods and after the game. Now [Sunday] I feel a little better."
As to why the Canadiens struggled so much against Carolina, Komisarek explained that the Canes applied pressure in every zone on the ice.
"They make us work very hard for puck possession and every square inch of ice. We really have to be ready to match their level of intensity," said Komisarek.
Young winger Guillaume Latendresse said the team was lacking emotion on the bench.
"We were drowsy," said Latendresse. "We didn't talk much to each other. The Hurricanes always give us a hard time. We didn't have a good game start. At least, we came out with one point in the standings."
Latendresse spoke about how important it is for the team to show more consistency. "As the coach told us, we haven't played our best hockey yet. We're not in trouble, but it is not the time to take chances."