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Making moves up front

Brendan Gallagher and Ales Hemsky traded places at practice on Sunday as head coach Claude Julien continues to mix things up

by Matt Cudzinowski @canadiensmtl /

BROSSARD - Head coach Claude Julien tweaked a few things up front during Sunday's on-ice session at the Bell Sports Complex, with Brendan Gallagher and Ales Hemsky trading places.

While Gallagher assumed Hemsky's spot on a line with Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Drouin, Hemsky went to work with Alex Galchenyuk and Phillip Danault.

"It's really about trying things out with different players. With respect to making the change with Gallagher and Hemsky, I want to see what both can bring to different lines," said Julien, who ran his troops through a 90-minute workout ahead of Monday night's preseason tilt in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. "We know Hemsky is a good play maker and Gallagher is a guy who goes to the net and creates a lot of space for other players. It gives us a different look and we're going to analyze things from there in terms of possible combinations."

Video: Claude Julien's press conference

For his part, Gallagher believes combining forces with the likes of Pacioretty and Drouin has some serious potential.

"You look at the skill sets they both have. Max, skating, shooting, the way he finds open ice, the way he's going to draw attention to himself. Same with Drouin, the poise he's going to have carrying the puck through the middle and the little areas he's going to find. It really makes it easy for me to do my job - get to the net," mentioned Gallagher, who has one goal in two preseason appearances. "When you're put on a line that is going to allow us to do that, hopefully we can have success."

Danault has equally high hopes for his new line.

"I haven't really had the chance to get to know Hemsky as a player, but he's 34 years old and he has a lot of experience. It will be interesting to see what happens. Chucky and Hemsky are both skill guys. It should be a good dynamic," praised Danault. "I think everyone wants to find their game. Claude has a history of finding winning combinations. Those are moves that are very understandable. I'm confident it will work, too."

Minutes before Sunday's skate got underway, the Canadiens confirmed three additional cuts. Forwards Nikita Scherbak and Martin Reway, along with goaltender Zachary Fucale, are all scheduled to report to the Laval Rocket's training camp, which begins on Monday at Place Bell in Laval.

During his post-practice press conference, Julien shed some light on Scherbak's status going forward, insisting that the 21-year-old Russian could very well find himself back with the Canadiens sooner rather than later.

"He might've not had the best camp, but he's a young player and even if he's in Laval, it doesn't mean that we won't see him before the start of the season. There are still preseason games and he's one of the guys we could recall," explained Julien, on the subject of the Canadiens' first-round pick - 26th overall - back in 2014. "We had to make some space. We aren't convinced that he's ready yet, but he has good skills and good size, and when he gets going, he's a good skater. We're going to continue working with him with the goal of making him the player that we thought he could be when we drafted him."

One youngster who is still sticking around and turning his fair share of heads is Victor Mete. The 19-year-old defenseman was patrolling the blue line with Shea Weber again on Sunday.

"He's played just one preseason game so far, but if he's still here, it's because we'd like to keep watching him," insisted Julien. "We're keeping him here because we feel it's the best spot for him right now. He's a young guy who has impressed us and we're giving him the chance to show what he can do."

Video: Victor Mete on his chances of making the team

It remains to be seen if Mete will be in the lineup come Monday night at Ricoh Coliseum, but one player who may not be in uniform is Andrew Shaw.

Shaw was back at practice on Sunday for the first time since being sidelined on September 19th with a neck injury.

"That was the first practice I had with the team, so I'm probably looking at not playing that game [against Toronto on Monday]. It'll probably be more Quebec City on Wednesday. I don't even know if I'm playing then, but day to day, I guess," said Shaw. "I don't think they would throw a guy into a game after just one practice with the team."

Video: Andrew Shaw on his health status

Fortunately, the 26-year-old forward is feeling just fine.

"In training camp, they just don't want to force you to play if you're not 100 percent. They just told me to do rehab and make sure we put the fire out so it doesn't get worse," added Shaw. "I feel good. A couple of days and skating and I'll be ready to get back into things."

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