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Experience matters

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

TAMPA – Ben Scrivens brings a wealth of goaltending experience in the NHL ranks along with him to the Canadiens.

Even if the Habs’ recent struggles aren’t uniquely a by-product of the play of both Mike Condon and Dustin Tokarski, having the option to turn to a netminder with a little more playing experience certainly can’t hurt. Knowing that Carey Price would be absent until at least mid-January, general manager Marc Bergevin decided to add an important insurance policy between the pipes by acquiring Scrivens from the Edmonton Oilers early Monday morning once the NHL’s roster freeze had expired.

Plying his trade with the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Bakersfield since the start of the season, the 29-year-old Spruce Grove, AB native was pleased to be back in an NHL locker room on Monday – even if it meant getting up at the crack of dawn to join his new team as quickly as possible. Scrivens was especially eager to get to Tampa so he could hit the ice at Amalie Arena to get accustomed to life with the CH.

“I’d kind of been given a little bit of a heads up by my agent that maybe something was in the works. I’ve been traded a few times in my career now, so it’s never official until it’s official,” offered Scrivens, who was acquired in exchange for Zack Kassian. “You kind of hear rumblings, and sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s fire, but not always. I’m definitely happy with how things played out and I’m extremely happy to be here.”

While Scrivens has donned the colors of the Maple Leafs, Kings and Oilers since making his NHL debut back in 2011-12, the Cornell University product failed to secure a job in Edmonton out of training camp this time around – even though he believes he arrived at camp in the best shape of his career. Instead, he was forced to spend a few weeks at home awaiting a work visa before heading to California to join the Condors. The last few months haven’t been easy for Scrivens, who has 129 games of NHL experience on his resume.

Knowing that his former team opted to give youngsters a chance to shine in goal, Scrivens now wants to capitalize on the opportunity he’s been given with the Canadiens where he can continue to improve his game under the watchful eyes of goaltending guru, Stephane Waite.

“It was kind of spot duty because they’ve got another great goalie down there in Laurent Brossoit. He was playing great and he was on a role, so it was tough to get any momentum going. But, my last couple of weeks there I got to play a little bit more and I put up numbers more of what I’m used to. I was feeling good going into the break and to have this come afterwards is a welcome change,” explained Scrivens, who put up a 0-4-0 record and a 4.41 goals-against average in November with Bakersfield, before bouncing back with a 2-2-1 record and a 2.65 goals-against average in December. “It’s a huge opportunity [to work with Stephane Waite]. He’s a guy who knows how to win, a guy who knows how to prepare his goalies for long hauls and how to play well each and every night. It’s a huge opportunity for me and I’m going to make the most of it.”

While Michel Therrien’s troops are set to play two games in the next two nights, Scrivens still doesn’t know if he’ll get the call come Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise. Condon will get the start on Monday night in Tampa, so it’s possible Scrivens might be sporting the CH for real in short order. Whatever the case may be, he definitely appreciates being an NHLer again. The fact that he did everything conceivably possible to arrive in the Sunshine State ASAP – and then practiced just hours after touching down in the wee hours of the morning – is a good indication of that.

“I just got in, so I just wanted to get on the ice here and get a good sweat going,” concluded Scrivens. “I’ll be ready to play. It’s up to the coaching staff how they decide to play things.”

Hugo Fontaine is a writer for Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.

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