I understand what Jacques Martin is doing.

There is really no point in answering questions from the media with pure, unbridled honesty.

So when he says he's not concerned about Carey Price, what do you expect him to say? That his No. 1 goalie's .870 save percentage and 2-7-1 record over his last 10 starts is a sign of things to come, and that the sky is falling because if that's the case, the season is over?

Or when he says that he's pleased with the way the club has played the past two games, it's only normal that he emphasize the positive of getting 98 shots on goal in two games.

But when it comes down to it, the team is still suffering from many things that suggest it is mentally exhausted.

Playing under Martin's system can do that, because it does demand a very disciplined approach to the game, one that can take its toll over time.

But when a team allows a goal with under a minute left in a period six times in a span of 13 games, there's an example of players lacking some mental sharpness.

The Canadiens missed the net 21 times, including Michael Cammalleri with the game on his stick in the final minute of regulation, and it appears to be more and more normal for Montreal to shoot wide on some of its best scoring chances.

Yes, the Canadiens have hit the target a whopping 98 times in the past two games, but while that shows and good degree of Montreal's zone time in those games, it should result in a bounty of more than six goals, only two of them at even strength.

Still, considering the brutal road trip the Canadiens are coming off and the way they performed against a good Atlanta team gave Martin reason to seek positives.

"I'm pleased with the way we've played the last two games," he said. "I think we've shown a lot of emotion and passion. I'm pleased that we're back to going to the net and having a net presence. I thought we created several good scoring chances. We don't always control the results, but I think the process is in the right direction."

Martin loves that word. Process.

Except when you are constantly talking about a process, it means you haven't reached your final destination. It means the team is still coming together. It means there's still work to be done.

The Canadiens have a day off Monday, two days of practice and then they begin a tough stretch with five straight games against teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings: Pittsburgh twice, the Rangers twice and Boston.

Martin said this time off will allow Price to get back to fundamentals over the two days of practice, and Price himself manned up after the game and said he needs to be better.

But Hal Gill nailed it when he pointed out that Price isn't the only one.

"We have to be better around our net and protect him a little more," Gill said. "That starts with me. That's supposed to be my strong point. We can't keep giving teams extra whacks around the net. I don't think Carey's a concern. He's played a lot of hockey for us and he's won us a lot of games. This rest is going to be big for us, and for him too. But we don't have to worry about him."

Maybe not, but one does have to wonder if Martin's beloved process will ever come to its conclusion, and if so, when?