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Fourth is the new first

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL - On the Rangers’ depth chart, Georges Laraque, Steve Begin and Maxim Lapierre were penciled in as the Canadiens’ fourth line on Thursday night.  The trio, though, had other plans.

With a combined six points on the night, the Habs’ energy line did far more than that against New York. Not known for his skills as a playmaker, Laraque picked up a pair of assists for his first points as a Canadien.

“Well for starters, it’s a lot easier playing 5-on-5 than 4-on-5,” quipped Laraque with a huge grin in reference to his overblown missed shift earlier in the week against the Thrashers. “I’m feeling better than I have all season and  physically, I’m almost back to 100 per cent.

“It also makes such a difference to play a regular shift,” added Laraque. “Having a stable line helps a lot, too. Steve, Max and I have got great chemistry and we compliment each other really well.”

Begin also likes his two sidekicks these days, not that he’d ever have the nerve to tell big Georges otherwise.

“Our lined is really clicking right now,” agreed Begin. “Maxim is playing with so much confidence right now. He’s finding us really easily out on the ice. All Georges and I really need to do is crash the net and good things are happening. We’re just happy to be doing our part for the team right now.”

After recently being a healthy scratch for three games, Lapierre has caught fire with five points in his last seven games.

“It all comes down to experience,” admitted Lapierre. “The more you play, the more you recognize situations as they happen and you know how to react. We also communicate a lot out with each other, whether it's on the ice or on the bench.”

While he doesn’t expect an offensive explosion from his grinders every night, Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau is certainly loving what he’s getting from his trio of fourth-line warriors.

“Role players like them are supposed to bring energy and that’s exactly what’s happening right now,” explained Carbonneau. “They’re doing whatever it takes to stay in the lineup. They’re also playing much better defensively in our zone, meaning they're spending more time in the offensive end making things happen.”

Unfortunately for he Rangers, they didn’t get that memo.

Manny Almela is a writer for

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