MONTREAL – In today’s notebook, the Eller-Galchenyuk-Semin line delivers again, the Habs are big fans of the new overtime format, and Charles Hudon continues to make strides.
Something special brewing: The line of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Alexander Semin was firing on all cylinders once again on Sunday afternoon, combining for nine points in Team White’s 6-2 win over Team Red at the Bell Centre. Galchenyuk’s second goal of the game even proved to be the game-winner, as Team White lit the lamp six straight times en route to registering a rather impressive victory.
“We seem to fit in quite well there, but it’s only Day 4 [of training camp]. We feel good about ourselves, but we know there’s still a lot of work to be done and there are a lot of areas to improve,” offered Galchenyuk, who is entering his fourth NHL campaign in 2015-16. “We’re definitely happy with our start and we’re excited. We’re trying to make plays out there and it works for us.”
The 21-year-old forward believes the success of the line is a by-product of each player bringing something special to the table early on, particularly in terms of overall skill and creativity.
“I think all three of us are skill players. We’re not afraid to try new things. We’re not afraid to use our skill. All of us can skate and make plays, especially at top speed. I think those are the things that will pay off for us,” shared Galchenyuk, who hit the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his NHL career last season. “But, we’ve still got to stay focused. There’s a long way to go before the first regular season game.”
For his part, Eller is enjoying playing alongside his new linemates and sees plenty of potential in the trio going forward.
“I think it could be really good. I even said it before Day 1 of training camp. It’s always exciting to play with them. It’s still early, but we’re going to keep building and building,” mentioned Eller, who put up 15 goals and 27 points in 77 regular season games last year. “There’s some good chemistry right now. All three of us are having fun out there and we look forward to playing some real games.”
More open ice: Michel Therrien’s troops believe the brand new three-on-three overtime format suits their game just fine.
“I’m actually really excited about it. We had the chance to try it out [in Sunday’s scrimmage]. It was different. You didn’t really know what to expect, but there’s a lot of ice offensively,” offered Galchenyuk, who will surely be looking to use his speed and stick-handling ability to his advantage with plenty of extra space to operate during the extra frame. “The main thing, though, is that it’s pretty hard defensively. You can be a second slower and there could be a scoring chance, so you’ve got to be really aware out there.”
That being said, Eller believes the Canadiens could have the upper-hand against their opponents should overtime be necessary to settle the score.
“I like our strength [in those situations]. I always think one of our biggest assets as a team is our speed. I think it’s going to favor the fast teams because skating ability now is going to be more important than ever. It’s going to favor the teams that are fast,” explained Eller, who says 3-on-3 OT will add something extra to sudden death scenarios. “Now, there’s going to be a lot more room out there. The team with more skill, that wants to compete and work hard, it’s going to favor them. Teams that are good at holding onto the puck and making smart plays, I think it gives them an advantage. It’s an exciting format.”
Working to impress: These days, Charles Hudon has one goal in mind – make the Canadiens roster. Coming off his first full season in the pro ranks with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, the 21-year-old forward is trying to make his case for staying with the big club on a permanent basis.
“I’m doing what I have to do on the ice by giving everything I’ve got every single time I’m out there. I want to show what I can do to be a part of this organization,” offered Hudon, who registered 19 goals and 57 points in 75 games in 2014-15. “My confidence is growing. It’s always fun to have confidence when you’re a hockey player. I just want to keep working hard.”
Linemate Devante Smith-Pelly has certainly taken notice of Hudon’s capabilities in training camp, forming a trio with the Alma, QC native and fellow young gun Sven Andrighetto.
“He’s a good player. He’s tenacious on the puck. He works really hard. He also works hard to get loose pucks. We make stuff happen together,” praised Smith-Pelly, who clearly appreciates Hudon’s relentlessness and hustle. “His game is pretty simple.”
Hudon is well aware, though, that there’s always room for improvement. In his case, he believes it’s particularly important to be sharper in his own end.
“I want to get better in the defensive zone. I played center in Hamilton. It was a little tougher, but I worked and spent a lot of extra time improving in the face-off circle and playing in the defensive end,” shared Hudon, who was selected 122nd overall by the Canadiens back in 2012. “I spoke to [head coach] Sylvain Lefebvre about it, and we’ll keep working on it together.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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