May 27, 2014, 7:29 PM EDT
Coming off a 39-goal, 60-point regular season, Max Pacioretty stands as one of the Montreal Canadiens’ go-to forwards. Wherever you rank him, his Game 4 performance left a lot to be desired, which he acknowledged to NHL.com heading into Game 5.
Just about any top forward hears it from the media and fans when he’s struggling, yet Pacioretty acknowledges being under the spotlight that much more in Montreal. At 25, it seems like he’s getting better at putting criticism aside and getting back to work.
“It’s tough to have a short memory in this city,” Pacioretty said. “Over the years I’ve gotten better and better at it. But there’s been times in these playoffs when I go four games without scoring a goal, I feel like I’m the worst player ever. But that just comes with playing in a big market, and you use it as motivation and you use it to get ready for the next game.”
Perhaps Michel Therrien can help him enjoy more manageable situations with the last change. Pacioretty had awful numbers from a typical standpoint (zero points, zero shots on goal and a -2 rating) and arguably even worse numbers from a “fancy stats” perspective in Game 4.
The Habs could certainly use Pacioretty at his best, and it’s reasonable to expect a bounce-back performance in Game 5 tonight. He’s been solidly productive in this series (a goal in Game 2, an assist in Game 3) and scored six points in his last seven postseason contests even with that ugly game on Sunday.
Montreal has been dominated during some stretches of play against the Rangers in this series, yet they’ve put up a solid fight after getting shelled in Game 1. If Pacioretty can turn up the heat, this series really might be far from over.
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