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Getting down to business

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Andrei Kostitsyn and Guillaume Latendresse battle for the puck during a highly-intense inter-squad game on Sunday.
MONTREAL – Camp may have only just begun but that didn't stop the Canadiens from ramping up the intensity on the ice Sunday, in their final tune-up ahead of Monday’s pre-season opener against the Bruins in Halifax. 

Highlight goals and solid checks were on the menu in an inter-squad matchup that saw Team B - led by Alex Kovalev, Robert Lang and Guillaume Latendresse - take home top honors in a shootout.

While the trio led their team to victory, Team A’s unit of Tomas Plekanec and the Kostitsyn brothers put on a show, each brother scoring a goal and Plekanec assisting on both, and exerting constant pressure in the offensive zone. They weren’t the only ones standing out; the prospects came out to play, notably defensemen P.K Subban and Yannick Weber, as well as forwards Max Pacioretty, Brock Trotter and David Desharnais, all of whom left quite the impression on the head coach.

“The staff and I were talking after the game and we couldn’t believe how well-conditioned these guys are,” said Guy Carbonneau. “Some guys feel that they could lose their spots on the roster and that led to a higher intensity level.

“But, today was just an inter-squad game. We’ll have a better idea after a few pre-season games.”

Subban, a blue-liner with undeniable offensive skills, sent a bullet of a shot from the point that surprised goaltender Robert Mayer.

“The pass was perfect and all I had to do was execute,” the Belleville Bulls rearguard said.  “I’m happy I scored a goal but my focus was on starting the rush.  That was my main goal.”

It may have been a game between teammates, but that didn’t mean the physical play was put on hold.  Steve Begin formally introduced himself to centre Ryan White, who is expected to suit up for the Bulldogs this season.

“It was definitely intense out there,” admitted Begin.  “But, guys are still finding themselves; everybody is still a bit off their game.  As camp goes on and the season gets closer, the intensity will only increase.”

With six games in seven days, Carbonneau doesn’t expect to cut any of the 52 players attending camp before the end of this week.  Missing in action on Sunday, Saku Koivu (foot) and newcomer Georges Laraque (groin) will miss out on the first few pre-season games as a precautionary measure.

Jaroslav Halak will guard the Canadiens’ crease in Halifax on Monday. Plekanec, the Kostitsyn brothers, Alex Tanguay and Alex Kovalev will also make the trip to Nova Scotia.

Heather Engel is a writer for
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