BROSSARD – Day two of training camp was all about details as the Habs covered everything from faceoffs and shootouts, all the way down to fighting.
With the Canadiens’ second on-ice session of the day winding down, Brandon Prust and Ryan White met near center ice, dropped the gloves and began squaring off. While fans looking on might have gotten the impression the team’s two toughest customers were about to settle a score, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Veteran advice can go a long way for a young player on the ice, and while that generally applies to the more technical elements of the game, it also applies to fighting, as Prust was happy to demonstrate.
“He’s definitely a strong kid and willingness is everything,” explained Prust on his sparring session with White that appeared to cover everything from jersey grabs, to head movement, to counterpunches. “If I can pass along to him a couple of things that I’ve learned along the way, hopefully it will help him out.”
Across the room, White, who endeared himself to fans last season with his willingness to go toe-to-toe with anyone who crossed his teammates, was clearly happy with the Habs’ newest additions.
“With the way things went last year, adding some guys like that is great,” said White, who for his part dropped the gloves seven times in 2011-12 in only 20 games. “Not only are they gritty and they play hard, but they’re also great guys in the room. [Francis] Bouillon, [Colby] Armstrong and Prust are all going to be able to help us on the ice, but also just as much off of it.”
While White was busy picking up tips from the NHL’s busiest fighter, goaltending coach Pierre Groulx was hard at work installing a camera in the corner of the rink – aimed squarely at Carey Price – for an impending shootout drill.
“We just started doing that. We’re recording everything on a iPad we have mounted on a tripod to help me out. I obviously can’t see myself when I’m on the ice, so it’s great to be able to have a visual aid like that to look over afterwards,” explained Price following the morning practice. “Tomorrow we’ll sit down and take a look at what I did today. It really makes it easier for me to understand explanations of things I should be doing when I’m in nets.”
For Price, the video replay constitutes just another weapon in his goaltending arsenal of preparation.
“I think the way goalie training is done is evolving,” continued the 25-year-old netminder. “It’s a technological progression. It’s sometimes tough for a goaltending coach to verbally explain something, but this way, they can just show you on the video.”
Alex Galchenyuk might want to ask Groulx for a copy of that tape tomorrow after the 18-year-old showed off come serious skills in a friendly Red vs. White shootout challenge during practice. The recent recipient of a gold medal at the World Junior Championships put his speed and hands on display, beating Peter Budaj with an impressive deke that drew a collective “Wow!” from teammates, the media and fans alike.
“It’s safe to say that I’ve taken my share of shootout attempts over the course of my career. I always try and do different things and also watch what the goalies are doing. I ended up getting pretty lucky today,” downplayed Galchenyuk, of his highlight reel goal. “Coming back to the line and seeing all the guys cheering me on was a great feeling.”
Another Hab that’s enjoyed some success in the shootout, Lars Eller, had nothing but praise for the Canadiens’ 2012 first-round pick.
“We all knew he had a ton of talent coming in, and I’m sure he’s got a lot more tricks in his bag that we haven’t seen yet, too,” shared Eller, who also took a moment to give his goaltender some credit. “Peter Budaj knows us all pretty well, but he’s probably never seen Alex Galchenyuk in a situation like that before. Now he’ll be better prepared next time.”
Chances are he’ll get the opportunity to go up against Galchenyuk again – probably sooner than later.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com
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