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Conference calls

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – The Habs offer up their two-cents on the NHL’s new four-conference format, in effect next season.

The stars realign: With the announcement of the league's conference realignment set to kick in at the beginning of 2012-13, it seems everyone has an opinion on the subject. The league will be dropping the old two-conference, six-division format in lieu of four conferences grouped by geographic proximity. In the Canadiens dressing room, the players’ take on the new system was almost unanimous.

“I like it. I mean, we get to go to Florida a little more so you have to be happy with that,” pointed out Michael Cammalleri who, along with the rest of the Habs should be scheduled for three trips to the Sunshine State to face the Lightning and Panthers. “The other side of things it’s going to be obviously heavier on the travel and that’ll be a challenge. Over all though, I think the league is bang on with the fact that fans want to get to see all the different players and see all the different teams they might not normally see. It’s good for the game.

“Right now things can get a little monotonous playing the same teams all the time,” continued Cammalleri of the league’s current East-West format. “This way I think it makes for more exciting regular seasons. The travel should be a challenge but I think it will also be refreshing in a lot of ways for the players.”

The Habs will face Columbus Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

Josh of all trades: Already known for being a dominant force on the Habs’ penalty kill, Josh Gorges will get the chance to flex his offensive muscles on the other side of the special teams coin against the Blue Jackets. With 10 points to his name this season, Gorges is showing a knack for knowing when to jump up and contribute; something Jacques Martin will be counting on when he gives the Habs blue-liner more responsibility on the man advantage.

“Through Junior I was on the power play a little bit more, but then again, I think everyone saw some kind of power play time when they were in junior,” started Gorges whose regular workload has already seen him average 22:05 of ice time in 2011-12. “I’ve done it here and there since I’ve been in the NHL, but never consistently. I think my job is to go out there and not do things that are out of character for me. The reason they have me out there is to keep it simple; to get opportunities to get pucks to the net and try to create openings for other guys and get in on second and third opportunities.

“But like I said, I’m not going to go out there and try to be a dangler and beat guys one-on-one,” added Gorges. “My game doesn’t change; all that changes will be getting those extra couple of minutes.”

No place like home: After three games in the National Hockey League, Louis Leblanc is finally ready for his Bell Centre baptism Tuesday night. The 20-year-old was shelved for the entirety of the Canadiens’ training camp this year as he rehabbed from injury and wasn’t able to take part in any preseason games. Having disputed just one preseason contest at the Bell Centre last year, it didn’t take long for Leblanc to realize that Tuesday’s outing will likely wind up being a bit more expensive.

“I ended up having to buy about a dozen tickets so far. Luckily, I had a few other friends coming that were able to go out and buy their own,” kidded Leblanc. “I’m really excited to see my family. It’s going to be a special night for me, but also for them. My parents were always the ones who supported me, who drove me to the rink every morning and who bought me all my equipment. It should be a really nice moment. All that’s missing now is for us to go out there and get the win."

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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