Habs adopt be-prepared motto

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:29 PM ET

MONTREAL -- Mike Cammalleri spent three years wearing the maize and blue of the Michigan Wolverines and clearly he has benefited from that college education.

"The implications are what they are -- 2-2, 3-1, huge difference," the Montreal winger said, looking ahead to Game 4 Thursday night in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal with his Canadiens holding a 2-1 series edge on the Boston Bruins.

"It's funny the way it goes in the playoffs. Your next game is always the biggest game of the season, so this is the biggest game of the season. If you go up 3-1, you're not going to admit it, but it gives you some breathing space. It gives you a bogey in your bag, a mulligan and 2-2 doesn't.

"The implications are there, but I don't think it does much for any of us to worry about them. The results will find themselves."

The Canadiens had a sloppy start to Game 3, which wound up in a 4-2 Bruins victory Monday night at the Bell Centre to get Boston back in this series.

Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who had a less than ordinary night himself, questioned his club's preparedness, accusing some teammates of "horsing around," at the morning skate.

The Canadiens, who had scored the first goal in each of their victories in Boston, saw the Bruins get the first, second and third goals Monday night. The Habs looked unfocused and the favoured Bruins looked like as if they had finally shaken the tension that had appeared to envelop their team.

Price's critical remarks were a topic Wednesday.

Cammalleri said he didn't have a problem with what Price had to say, but said having game faces on and a grim atmosphere at the morning skate is no guarantee of success.

"It's OK if he voices his opinion. Carey is an emotional guy and that's good. We're all different. I think as a group it's really important that we find that head-space and that focus we need going into the game," Cammalleri said. "I've seen us come out loose in the morning and wind up playing a really focused and determined game. I've seen us come out business-like in the morning and play a focused and determined game and I've seen the opposite. I don't know if there's an answer to how you should come to rink.

"We could hypothesize until we're blue in the face about what exactly it is. I'm over it and done talking about it. You live and learn. If our focus is where it needs to be (Thursday), I'll be a happy man."

The Canadiens likely will have veteran forward Jeff Halpern back in the lineup Thursday night, in place of struggling Benoit Pouliot who is reprising his post-season fade of last year. He took a dumb charging penalty late in the second period Monday and didn't play a shift after that.

Halpern has been sidelined with a lower body injury. He could help the Habs in the faceoff circle where they are getting their poutine handed to them by the B's. The Bostonians have the second-best faceoff percentage in the post-season at 55.6%, second only to the San Jose Sharks. The Habs, it follows, have the second-worst at 44.4%.

"It's a big part of the game and hopefully I can help out in that area as far as puck control and the way the game goes," said Halpern, who skated on the wing with centre Lars Eller and Travis Moen. Halpern has the best winning percentage on the team at 56.9%, while taking the third-most faceoffs .

The start of Thursday's game is 7 p.m. ET, by the way.

The Canadiens will be hoping to start playing then and not at 9 p.m., which was the case Monday night.


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