'You have a job to do' — No excuses for NHL teams not in playoff hunt

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Purple Wings and Canadiens (Getty Pictures)

In a dozen Nationwide Hockey League locker rooms already, speak of the playoffs is muted.

There’s nary a point out of the pursuit of Lord Stanley. Banter about significant Might hockey is non-existent. The season has a definitive, non-negotiable finish date in early April – definitely not the objective when gamers reported for coaching camp a number of months prior.

For teams out of the playoff hunt, motivation exists in totally different varieties that transcend speeches concerning the glory of the second season.

“The primary factor we’ve talked about is that day-after-day in the Nationwide Hockey League is a big day,” stated Detroit Pink Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, whose Purple Wings are on monitor to miss the playoffs for a second straight yr.

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“There shall be days when our gamers are not in the league they usually’ll want that they had these video games in March, no matter in the event that they imply tons or don’t imply as a lot in phrases of playoff consequence.”

The Purple Wings have been just lately on the other finish of the spectrum, making the playoffs an eye fixed-popping 25 consecutive years. Workforce captain Henrik Zetterberg, who got here into the league throughout that stretch, now finds himself main a group with out such lofty expectations.

“It’s totally different, however it’s not that totally different for us,” he stated. “You have a job to do and you set the jersey on and do your greatest.”

Zetterberg’s message hasn’t modified because the losses piled up.

“I anticipate everybody to focus and put together themselves as they do for each recreation. It hasn’t been a problem right here for preparation or effort. It’s extra that we come up brief.”

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The Montreal Canadiens are one other workforce that’s seen its playoff hopes evaporate en route to one among their worst seasons in the previous 20 years. Whereas some assume that particular person competitors for objectives and factors might take over as the first motivator for gamers on such a group, that’s not all the time the case.

Forwards Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk are neck-and-neck for the group’s scoring lead, with Gallagher posting his first 30-aim season. Lately, each shot down the concept dinner was on the road in a pleasant competitors of who would win the workforce’s scoring crown.

“No, and if I had a guess I’d guess on him [to lead the team in scoring at the end of the season],” Gallagher stated.

“It’s clearly totally different this time of yr when video games have much less which means this time of yr than earlier than,” he continued. “This wasn’t our yr, however that doesn’t imply you’ll be able to waste these video games.”

The interior temper of a workforce also can shift as a season goes sideways.

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Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner performed the primary 9 seasons of his profession with the Washington Capitals, the place making the playoffs was virtually routine. He defined that the variations in a group’s psyche prolong to intermission speak.

“The best way you speak in the room is totally different,” he stated.

“Guys are often simply extra relaxed, and you discover that you simply speak about performs a little bit extra. You’re all the time engaged on methods to beat that different staff and determine issues out. Once you’re down, guys are a little extra tense. It’s extra, ‘Why aren’t we doing higher. Let’s do that.’

“You’re making an attempt to work out what the issue is as an alternative of determining how to beat the opposite staff. We’ve been down in so many video games [this season] that we have that dialog greater than the, ‘Let’s hold it going,’ dialog.”

Throughout this tough season, Canadiens coach Claude Julien set his sights past the standings, as an alternative specializing in the method.

“We’re making an attempt to maintain the skilled strategy right here by persevering with to train, working towards with a objective, and going on the market and hopefully giving them a probability to make themselves evaluated correctly,” Julien stated.

“They’ve actually acted in a skilled method the place they arrive in each recreation and it issues whether or not they win or lose.”