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There he was, skating stiffly next to his irrepressible rookie defenceman, abruptly jamming his stick in his legs to give him a little can-opener.

Yes, that was indeed Jacques Martin, with - gasp - a mischievous smile, giving the business to Pernell Karl Subban.

There are several ways to react to a spanking like the one the Boston Bruins served up to the Habs on Thursday night, and the preferred option in the Montreal room appears to be: turn the page, get back to work, and don't feel sorry for yourself.

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That won't appease fans who want to see frothy rage and intensity - or at least contrition - from a club that just didn't show up for arguably the biggest game of the year, but do the Canadiens really have a choice?

They have seven games remaining in the season, including a home tilt on Saturday against Washington, so the party line was that there's no time to mope over the loss to their fiercest rival.

"That one really hurt," said defenceman James Wisniewski, "but it doesn't do any good to cry about it."

And so the Habs had a team meeting to go over the gruesome viewing from Thursday - and previous debacles against the Sabres and Rangers in the last week - and diagram adjustments. Then it was back to the ice, where it didn't take long for the usual practice horseplay to take over.

"It's a game, you still have to have fun playing it," said Habs captain Brian Gionta, one of several key players who had a miserable outing against the Bruins.

Rationalization is an essential human impulse, and while no one in the Canadiens' room was about to make excuses, several pointed out that many of the things that went wrong were of the freak occurrence variety.

Like Adam McQuaid's goal, an innocent shot that glanced off Lars Eller's stick in the high slot and squirted through Carey Price ("I've never had that happen - not just in my career, in my life. Not in junior, not in minor hockey, not in road hockey," said Wisniewski) or Gregory Campbell's first marker, which went off two skates before a twisting Price kissed it into his own net with his foot ("I saw that, and I was like, really?" said Wisniewski).

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That's not to say there are any illusions about whether they were in that game - as Wisniewski said, "we were never in it and we didn't deserve to be."

But that doesn't mean the players are about to pull out the cat-o'nine-tails and flog themselves publicly. They simply don't feel the panic and alarm that many of their fans do.

"Games like this are always much harder on the people around us and our fans than they are on the people in this room. It's not productive for us to dwell on that stuff," Cammalleri said. "We just have to get back to work."

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About the Author
National Correspondent

Sean Gordon joined the Globe's Quebec bureau in 2008 and covers the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, as well as Quebec's contingent of Olympic athletes. More

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