There’s an adage in sport that says you can learn more from losing than you can from winning.

And if there’s one thing the Canadiens should have learned from their first-round playoff loss to the Ottawa Senators it’s that they have to get bigger if they hope to succeed in the future.

For the better part of the past decade, the Canadiens have operated on the philosophy that speed and skill are the keys to success in the National Hockey League. They bought the suggestion that the post-lockout NHL signalled a new era in which good would triumph over evil, skill would trump goonery.

But all the Canadiens’ skill went for naught in the playoffs when the Senators wore the Canadiens down with a game that combined speed with a physical style. Injuries played a part in the outcome, but the bottom line was that the Senators were bigger and stronger.

Whenever the size issue comes up, Canadiens management counters with the speed and skill argument and then confuses toughness and strength.

In his post-mortem this week, general manager Marc Bergvin defended his team’s toughness and pointed to rookie Brendan Gallagher, the 5-foot-8 sparkplug who can usually be found creating havoc in front of the opposition net.

There is no denying that Gallagher is one tough customer. There’s also no denying that he gets knocked down a lot by bigger players. Bergevin noted that Gallagher continues to bounce back up, but that’s not enough. At some point, the Canadiens have to find players who can stand in front of the net and not get knocked down.