|Maxim Lapierre and Ryan O'Byrne will be in the Canadiens' lineup Thursday night against the Bruins.
MONTREAL – With a couple of phone calls on Tuesday night, the Canadiens got younger and hungrier.
Newly called up Maxim Lapierre and Ryan O’Byrne were all smiles in the Canadiens’ dressing room on Wednesday morning, eager to make a difference for a team looking to get back on the right track.
“The team is looking for energy, for a spark. I hope that’s something I can help provide,” said Lapierre, who had posted 14 points in 19 games for the Bulldogs. “It’s always physical against the Bruins and that’s the kind of game I like. I can’t wait to get back out there with the guys.”
Just over 24 hours from his NHL debut, O’Byrne was as glad as he’s ever been to have checked his voice mail.
“I found out last night. I had a few messages including one from [Habs VP-Hockey Operations] Julien BriseBois that particularly got my attention for some odd reason,” said O’Bryne with a smile. “He told me to catch the first flight to Montreal this morning.”
Knowing that his time would come, O’Bryne made it a point not to hang his head when he failed to crack the season-opening lineup.
“Even though I was disappointed to be sent down, I wasn’t about to sit by the phone waiting for it to ring,” explained O’Byrne. “I knew that I could get the call at any moment and that I had to focus solely on what I was doing with Hamilton so that I would be ready.”
To help ease O’Byrne into life on the Canadiens blue line, head coach Guy Carbonneau paired him up veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik.
“I hope to play a few games to show what I can do and playing with a defenseman like Hamrlik will surely only help,” added O’Byrne. “We had some good chemistry together in preseason, so I’m looking forward to building on that.”
If Lapierre being the final cut out of training camp was intended to be a wake-up call for the 22-year-old, the message was heard loud and clear.
“I know that I need to get back to what I was doing when I was called up last year,” said Lapierre, who will skate alongside Steve Begin and Tom Kostopoulos against the Bruins. “One of my main goals is to be stronger in our zone. I’m glad to be back and I’m ready for the challenge to stay here.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com