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Sean Gordon

What Beantown meltdown? Add to ...

The creature known as athletae professionalis is, by definition, a robust organism, able to metabolize even the bitterest of tastes.

How else to explain that the Montreal Canadiens were able to sleep off a 7-0 dismembering at the hands of the hated Boston Bruins on Thursday?

The sun rises in the east, fans rage and despair, but life goes on.

"My kids don't care what's going on at the rink," said Habs captain Brian Gionta, who was on breakfast duty with his two children Friday after flying in from Boston in the early hours.

That Gionta was able to joke around with his teammates on the ice at practice on Friday - even deadpan head coach Jacques Martin horsed around with rookie P.K. Subban - shouldn't be seen as a sign that he and the team didn't take the defeat seriously or as anything less than a stinging humiliation.

"There's a line you have to find," Gionta said. "Everyone needs to self-reflect, but you can't overanalyze it or dwell on it or you'll just drive yourself nuts."

Or as defenceman James Wisniewski put it: "This one hurts … but there's no point crying about it. You have to turn the page because it's not going to get any easier."

If the Canadiens are to have any success in the playoffs - and there is more pessimism among their fans than a couple of days ago - they'll have to turn their gaze to the seven games left on their schedule.

"You need to give them some direction, we've pointed out the areas they need to be better and we need to execute [Saturday]" Martin said, referring to this weekend's home date with the powerful Washington Capitals.

After being shut out in back-to-back games - the first for the Habs since 2007 - Martin wants his team to focus on generating offence and getting their noses dirty in front of the net.

One of the main lightning rods for criticism after the Boston game was perimeter-dwelling forward Scott Gomez, but Martin defended the ice time he's given the slumping centre, saying: "We need everyone and we're going to need him" for the playoffs.

Martin said that in a team meeting analyzing the team's last five-game segment, which ended in Boston: "I talked about urgency, I talked about determination, I talked about paying the price and blocking shots … there's some patterns and all those issues were addressed."

He allowed that Thursday's game taught the coach something as well - bringing back four injury victims, including top scorer Tomas Plekanec, in such a hothouse atmosphere may have been a miscalculation.

"When you're coming back from injury," Martin said, "it's a tough process to step in at that level of intensity. [Thursday]night it was a factor in the game, you learn lessons from every game and you hope to correct it and be better next time."

None of that is to say losses like the Beantown meltdown don't have corrosive effects on things like team confidence, but the only way for athletes to stay focused on the games ahead is to forget and bar the door against negativity and distractions.

"You want to be engaged so that when you're here you're not bothered by other things in life," winger Michael Cammalleri said. "At the same time, when you leave here you can disengage and focus on other things in life so that when you get back you can focus solely on the ice." He admitted, however, "I've always struggled with the disengaging part."

The re-engagement begins against the Alex Ovechkin-less Caps, which gives the team no time to think about what happened in Boston and why ("you can theorize all you want, it's sports," Cammalleri said with a shrug).

The Habs also have key games against Atlanta and Carolina next week that could have a bigger impact on their playoff seeding than anything that happened in Boston.

"Everything happens for a reason," Subban said. "Sometimes you need a wake-up call."

Follow on Twitter: @MrSeanGordon

 

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