|Carey Price was ready for game action on the final day of rookie camp.
MONTREAL - With three days of intensive practice under their belts, Canadiens rookie camp attendees received a little gift on the final day of camp—a taste of game action.
“It felt good to play and get back in the swing of things,” said Ryan O’Byrne, whose 6-foot-5 frame might be tailor-made for Montreal’s blue line. “I haven’t seen any real game action since last season, so this will certainly help.”
On the brink of his second Canadiens training camp, O’Byrne knows the next two weeks will be grueling. Once camp begins on Thursday, the blueline battle awaiting O’Byrne and the logjam of defensemen also vying for a spot promises to be a fierce one.
“I’m taking everything as it comes. Besides, this is only the beginning,” added O’Byrne. “I have to show what I can do, pure and simple. The case of Max Lapierre last season showed that even if you start the year in the minors, you can be called up in no time. Hockey is a physical game and injuries are bound to happen. Things can change in a hurry.”
During the eagerly awaited scrimmages, scrappy forward Matt D’Agostini decided not to leave anything to chance by notching four goals as Guy Carbonneau and his staff looked on.
“Everything went really well today and I felt great out there,” understated D’Agostini before giving credit to his fellow campers. “I sure had a lot of help out there. I was a little rusty there at first, but I managed to find my legs soon enough.”
If D’Agostini needed a few shifts to get the juices flowing, puck-stopping machine Carey Price was raring to go soon as the door swung open to begin practice. Much to the delight of fans in attendance, the 20-year-old goalie flexed the kind of muscle that helped the Bulldogs to their Calder Cup triumph.
That being said, the young padded phenom has no interest in getting caught up in the hype over what crease he will be protecting in 2007-08.
“The team has a plan for me and you guys know about as much about it as I do right now,” said a smiling Price amid the sea of microphones that surrounded him. “Whatever they decide to do, I know it will be what’s best for me. My goal is still to crack the lineup out of camp this year, just as it’s been for the previous camps I’ve attended. The big difference this year is that there’s no junior team waiting for me.”
That doesn’t mean that Price isn’t hoping to get his own way this time around.
“I’m a competitive guy who will do whatever it takes to win,” vowed Price. “Performing to the best of my abilities and making the team’s decision as tough as possible—that’s my plan.”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com