When a team has lost five games in a row, sometimes those are the things you need to look at to avoid a downward spiral of misery.
But when I brought it up with Mike Cammalleri after the game, he didn't share the same viewpoint at all.
“I was waiting for someone to bring that up," Cammalleri began by saying. "Moral victories suck in this business, I’m not going to sugar coat it. It’s a results-driven business, all out fans and all the people who care so much about this team want to see it win and so do we. When you talk about the process and working towards a goal, they’re things that we can look at. But they don’t really hold much weight as far as I’m concerned.”
Power to Cammalleri for calling like it is, because he's 100 per cent right. Moral victories do suck, because they are only brought up when you lose. And losing, by its very nature, sucks royally.
Except the man guiding this ship doesn't appear to feel the same way. Jacques Martin watched the same game we all did, and yes, the Habs got some shots and stayed out of the penalty box. But really, did they play all that well? I would say no, but not Martin.
"It was a hotly contested game," Martin said. "We worked better than we did over the last four or five games and created more chances to score."
Hotly contested? Really? Maybe it was contested, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it hot. Neither team looked like it had much gas in the tank, to be honest. The Wild were playing their fourth in seven nights, the Habs their third in four nights, and it showed. Just not to Martin.
"I thought our intensity was better tonight," he said. "We still have things to work on, but it was better."
The Habs play their next seven games on the road, a trip broken in two by the Christmas break. And in discussing the defeat, Martin finally evoked how badly some of the injured players are missed, which would have to mean Andrei Markov because he's really the only injured player that's close to a return. I ran into Roman Hamrlik after the game, and he said he was day to day, nothing more.
"With the return of certain players," Martin said, "it should allow us to classify players in their proper place."
Cammalleri was asked the same question earlier, whether the team was kind of waiting around for some of the injured guys to get back.
“We’ve had success with a lineup that was more depleted than the one we have right now," he said. "So I think we’re more looking within and looking in the mirror right now.”
Isn't that how it should be? Is it ever healthy to be using injuries as an excuse, no matter how valid an excuse it might be? Is it not strange that a player is saying all the right things and a coach is saying all the wrong ones?
I leave the answer to that question up to you.
I can't write about this game without mentioning poor old Guillaume Latendresse, who had a bit of rough one in his return to Montreal. He admitted afterwards that he was overly nervous at the start of the game, and he never quite recovered. But he made it clear that no matter how badly he thought he played, he got everything he wanted out of his return visit to the Bell Centre.
“Satisfied? I must have had no shots and maybe three hits (he actually was credited with five)," Latendresse said. "But the important thing is that we got two points even though we didn’t play well tonight. We’re a better team than that. But the only thing that was important to me tonight was to beat the Canadiens at home.”
Good for you Guillaume, you got what you wanted, but the boo birds that greeted him clearly hit home a bit. He told Mathias Brunet of La Presse last week that he would be hurt if he got booed, and it happened, though it wasn't all that vicious (a pocket of fans in the cheap seats took to chanting "Ann-ie Ville-neuve," his pop starlet girlfriend he left behind in Quebec).
“The positive is that I must have had an impact of some sort over my time here, so I’m not too worried about it.”
I highly doubt that, but he was right about one thing. There's no better way to stick it to a team than by beating them on their home rink. I'm sure Guillaume is still smiling over that.