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A well-timed trip

Habs head on second-longest road trip of the season with new faces in tow

by Hugo Fontaine @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL -- The Habs' newest faces will get to know one another a little better over the next 10 days.

Already all smiles on the strength of a four-game win streak, the Canadiens now have the opportunity to deepen those bonds on its second-longest road trip of the season.

After an emotional win against the Predators on Thursday, the Canadiens packed their bags on Friday morning and headed out to New York, for the first stop of a four-game trip which will take the team from coast to coast -- with dates against the Rangers, Canucks, Flames, and Oilers.

Although a road trip through Western Canada at this time of year may sound chilly to some, the mood was warm in the Habs dressing room following practice.

"There's no better way to bond than when you go on the road," explained newcomer Steve Ott, who has experience getting acclimatized to five different NHL environments over the course of his career. "You have dinners together, you see each other outside of the dressing room, and you get to find out about the guys' personalities a little -- if they're married, if they have kids, where they're from, and so on. All of those little things add up quickly when you're on the road."

While Ott waits to make his Canadiens debut in the coming days, fellow trade deadline acquisition Dwight King already had the opportunity to take his first strides as a Hab on Thursday.

Nevertheless, both newcomers will need to put discovering their new city on hold, in favor of getting to know their new Habs family a little better instead.

"It's almost better [to go on a long road trip] right away," admitted King, who previously spent six seasons in Los Angeles. "Getting used to [Montreal] and sightseeing a little would have been nice, but on the road I'll get to know my teammates and build friendships. Plus, either way I'll be staying in a hotel!"

As much as the four-game road swing will be a learning experience for Ott, King, and Co., so too will it be the case for new head coach Claude Julien, who is just seven games in to his second stint with the club.

But the timing couldn't have been better, according to the 56-year-old.

"With so many new faces on the team, this trip is a chance for us to get stronger together," stressed Julien, who has guided the Habs to a 5-2-0 record since taking the reigns on February 14. "It's something you see often at the beginning of a season, but with the number of changes made to this club recently -- the addition of myself included -- we have a chance now to come back to Montreal as a tighter-knit group."

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