The Canadian intends to make the Bell Center his fortress, after experiencing troubles at home last winter.
The Montreal squad will have the opportunity to walk the talk over the next few weeks, as they play seven of their next eight games at the Bell Center. The Habs will play their home opener on Thursday, when they host the Calgary Flames.
“Our approach has to be the same whether we’re at home or away from home,” forward Paul Byron insisted on video conference Wednesday. Our special units must operate whether at home or abroad. ”
The Canadian ranked 30e of 31 teams across the NHL last season with a .459 home points per game percentage, by virtue of a 14-17-6 record.
Good portions of the two eight-game losing streaks that plagued his season have come at home. Six of the eight straight losses in November were at the Bell Center, and four of the eight straight losses after the Christmas break were in the metropolis.
“It’s hard to put your finger on what went wrong at home last season,” admitted head coach Claude Julien.
“Your energy level is sometimes a little lower when you come home from a trip,” Byron added. You might take it for granted, think that the crowd is going to help you play better. Your preparation may change a bit. ”
Byron, Julien and the other speaker of the day, forward Josh Anderson, all noted that it was special for the opponent to come and play at the Bell Center.
“It’s probably the noisiest amphitheater in the NHL,” said Anderson, who will be playing his first game at the Bell Center with the Habs on Thursday. As visitors you are a little more motivated, you want to play physical hockey and silence the crowds.
“You don’t show up at the Bell Center for a game like any other. It’s like a playoff game, ”he added.
Julien did not want to use the opponent’s level of motivation as an excuse to explain the setbacks of his troop at the Bell Center last winter.
As for this season, he noted that the simple fact of counting on a better formation compared to that of last year should help the Habs to improve their record at home.
There is also the particularity that the matches are presented in front of empty bleachers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When there’s a big bodycheck, a big save or a big blocked shot, it’s not the same without the spectators,” said Byron. It is something that we continue to adjust to. ”
The fact remains that the experience will be special for new members of the Canadiens on Thursday.
The Habs trained at the Bell Center on Tuesday to allow new players to familiarize themselves with their new environment. Anderson admitted it took a little while to discover the portion of the amphitheater reserved for the home team.
“I got lost in and around the locker room looking at portraits of former players and the Stanley Cups,” he said. I remained wordless for ten minutes just walking in the locker room in awe. I can’t wait to go back for my first game. ”
The Canadian (4-0-2) will then find his way back to the Flames (2-2-1), who lost their last two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s a team with a good structure, a physical team that has a bit of everything, including a good goalkeeper,” said Julien. Like us, she relies on her four attacking lines. ”
The two teams will cross swords again on Saturday, still at the Bell Center.