Stu Cowan: Coach Martin St. Louis preaches

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Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis is a big believer in the power of positive thinking.

It’s something he learned as a young boy from his mother, France.

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“She built my confidence,” St. Louis told me during a one-on-one interview in his Bell Centre office last season.

St. Louis recalled the time he got cut from his Laval peewee double-A team.

“I come home and I’m disappointed and crying,” he said. “The thing about my parents, they never said that I got screwed or they don’t know what they’re talking about. It was like, ‘It’s OK. We’re going to go have fun there.’ My mom would be like, ‘Marty, don’t worry about it. You’re going to show them.’ So it was never like a negative. It was always like, ‘They don’t know you yet. But trust me, you’ll show them.’

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“To me, my mom believed in me so much it made me believe in myself so much,” St. Louis added. “I don’t know if she knew what she was doing at that time. If that was her intention, I don’t know.”

Those lessons learned from his mother helped St. Louis become a Hall of Fame player despite never being selected at the NHL Draft. Sadly, his mother passed away in 2014 from a heart attack at age 63, but St. Louis is now teaching her lessons to his players with the Canadiens.

There was a lot of negativity surrounding the Canadiens after they lost 5-2 to the Minnesota Wild last Tuesday at the Bell Centre when they allowed two short-handed goals and three power-play goals while going 0-for-5 on the power play.

St. Louis addressed the negativity when he met with the media after Saturday’s morning skate at the Bell Centre ahead of a game against the Washington Capitals.

“I want to be real careful how I word this,” St. Louis said. “The focus has been so much on our special teams these last few days. And, yeah, you can look at it as a negative through one game. I didn’t get many questions about our five-on-five that’s really good, right? You guys tend to focus on a lot of the stuff that probably we need corrections and I get it. I think society’s like that. In the dictionary, every positive word has four negatives. For every positive you have four negatives, so we understand that we’re fighting that.

“These are all learning moments from our group and I really like where we are,” he added. “I’m not worried about the stuff that needs correction because we are going to work at correcting them. I’m really happy with our five-on-five game. I know I’m going long on this, but there’s a lot to like.”

The Canadiens blew a 2-0 lead in the third period Saturday night against the Capitals, but came away with a 3-2 win when Cole Caufield scored in overtime, improving their record to 2-1-1 heading into Monday night’s game against the Sabres in Buffalo. The Canadiens went 1-for-6 on the power play against Washington and killed off all five Capitals power plays.

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Heading into Monday’s game, the Canadiens ranked 24th in the NHL on the power play (11.8 per cent) and 15th in penalty-killing (79.2 per cent). Five-on-five, they had scored nine goals while allowing only two.

“There’s so much positive and to me it’s hard sometimes to hear you guys focus on the negative,” St. Louis told reporters in his post-game news conference Saturday. “I know you guys have to do your job … I get it. But it’s easy to get lost as a group because we’re chasing perfection knowing that we’ll never get there. It’s impossible to be perfect. But we’re fixing things as we see it and sometimes you’re going to fix something and then the thing that was great now is not as good. So it’s a balancing act a little bit, but that’s the league. You have really a short amount of practice time. It’s really hard to fix things quick.”

This is a busy week for the Canadiens with four games in six nights. After the game in Buffalo, they will face the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre on Tuesday, followed by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday and the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Wednesday is a scheduled day off, so the Canadiens won’t have another full practice until Friday.

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