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Secrets to the Montreal Canadiens' success

Updated: March 5, 2013, 11:37 AM ET
By Craig Custance

It's understandable if you're skeptical of their success. The Montreal Canadiens were the worst team in the Eastern Conference last year, putting up just 78 points before bringing in a new regime after the season.

"We're coming from a long way," was new coach Michel Therrien's dignified way of saying that the team he took over just wasn't very good last year.

In fact, they've already come a long way. The Canadiens enter Tuesday night's game against the Islanders in first place in the Eastern Conference and are currently on a five-game road trip that includes very winnable games in a tour around the Southeast Division.

Their toughest challenge of the road trip was facing the streaking Bruins one day after a wild 7-6 loss to the Penguins. Sunday's win in Boston showed their resiliency as well as any game this season.

It was the kind of comeback win where the team stayed true to what Therrien is trying to implement in Montreal, and that is especially encouraging to the coach. The Canadiens won games early this season in jumping out to a strong start, but the coach didn't like their lack of discipline at times.

"We discussed about it," Therrien said. "We got better, and we're learning how to win. Don't forget, this team was last in the conference last year. We add some new players, add some character, and I think confidence is a big part of it."

Therrien used the word confidence. Brandon Prust, a key offseason addition by Montreal GM Marc Bergevin, called it swagger.

Both were on display against the rival Bruins. And both are a big reason why the Habs continue to surprise in 2013.

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