Still alive: The Canadiens announced nine more cuts prior to the start of practice on Sunday, which leaves 31 players at training camp. We’re starting to have a better idea of the team that could hit the ice at the Air Canada Centre on October 7 for the start of the 2015-16 campaign.
|Charles Hudon and Nikita Scherbak are still in the running for roster spots with the Canadiens. |
For several young guns, surviving another wave of cuts is a good vote of confidence. That’s certainly the case for Charles Hudon, who will get another shot at impressing the Canadiens’ brass on Monday night in Quebec City.
“It’s always a good thing,” offered the 21-year-old forward, who was the Hamilton Bulldogs’ second-leading point-getter last season with 57 points in 75 games. “Training camp isn’t over, though. I still have things to learn. I have another game to show what I can do, but I’m taking things one day at a time. Things have been going well since the start of camp. I just have to continue working hard and keep moving my feet. I still have things to learn and perfect at this level, but I’m ready for anything. I’m staying positive.”
While securing a roster spot with the big club remains Hudon’s top priority, potentially being assigned to the AHL ranks in St. John’s isn’t something he’d look at negatively.
“Stress definitely starts to kick in [with cuts], but that’s all a part of hockey. If you’re sent down to the AHL, it’s to learn and improve so you can ultimately be ready when you get back here,” explained Hudon. “It’s more stressful wondering when you’re going to make it back. I’m going to work even harder than I did last year.”
Like Hudon, Mark Barberio is still vying for a roster spot in Montreal. Barberio, who boasts 103 NHL games on his resume with the Tampa Bay Lightning, continued his strong play on Saturday night in Toronto by logging a team-leading 24:56 of ice time while picking up an assist on the Canadiens’ lone goal of the game. The 25-year-old rearguard was rewarded with another preseason start on Monday night.
“To this point, Saturday’s game was my best so far,” shared Barberio. “I’m not surprised because it takes time to find your rhythm. But, a good game doesn’t make a training camp or a career. I need to continue playing my game, giving a solid effort and always being ready when my name is called.”
During his post-practice press conference, Michel Therrien praised Barberio’s work thus far.
“He’s having a great camp. He skates well, he’s moving the puck and he’s doing a lot of good things and getting a good opportunity to show what he’s capable of,” offered Therrien. “We like what we’ve seen so far.”
Goaltender Mike Condon is another player who has turned heads since the start of training camp, offering up a stellar effort against the Washington Capitals last week before blanking the Maple Leafs on Saturday night in a full-length start.
"This summer, I was just focused on training with my trainer down in Cape Code. It was just me and him working every day. I just know that if I put the work in this summer and had a good attitude, things would fall into place," offered Condon, who will likely serve as Carey Price's back-up on Monday night. "I have to keep working on the little things. It’s a process. I know it’s cliché, but it’s the little things every day [that really matter]. It’s taking care of the mind, the body and the spirit and just not going on Twitter or anything like that."
A special occasion: When Michel Therrien’s troops make their way into the brand new Videotron Centre on Monday night in Quebec City, it’s safe to say the Canadiens’ bench boss will be smiling from ear to ear.
|Head coach Michel Therrien has strong ties to Quebec City and he's looking forward to Monday night's game at the Videotron Centre. |
“It’s a new building. I haven’t had the chance to see it yet, but we’ve heard a lot of good things. It will be the first NHL game there, so there’s something special about it. Personally, I always felt a special attachment to Quebec City,” offered Therrien, whose squad will battle the Pittsburgh Penguins in its fifth preseason game of the year before a packed house in La Vieille Capitale. “I started playing with the Remparts when I was 17 years old, and I coached the Citadelles when they were the Canadiens’ farm team.”
Heading to Quebec City every year with the CH also takes Therrien back in time to the historic rivalry that existed between his current employer and the Nordiques, who were members of the NHL between 1979 and 1995 before being re-located to Denver, CO.
“There are a lot of memories. I was a young kid when I saw the rivalry with the Nordiques and the Canadiens. I grew up in Montreal, so obviously I was a Habs fan,” explained Therrien, who also spent 272 games behind the Penguins’ bench during his lengthy coaching career. “But, Quebec City has always been a special place for me. It’s going to be fun to play that first NHL game in that new building.”
If Therrien is eagerly anticipating Monday night’s matchup, his players certainly are, too.
“I’m sure there’s going to be an even greater buzz now with the expansion process. Things are moving forward for them. They have their new arena and everything. I’m sure people are extra excited now,” mentioned Lars Eller, who will get another shot at playing alongside linemates Alex Galchenyuk and Alexander Semin on Monday night. “Rivalries are something that brings an extra dimension to the game for the fans and for the players. [Having a team in Quebec City down the road] could only be good for hockey.”
Getting back in the groove: After being sidelined for a week with a lower-body injury, Nikita Scherbak was back on the ice alongside the rest of the group on Sunday afternoon in Brossard.
“I feel good. It was my first practice with the team. It’s just amazing to be on the ice with the NHL guys,” offered Scherbak, who will make his 2015-16 preseason debut on Monday night against the Penguins. “Obviously, you want to be out there all the time, so I was happy to be practicing with the team. I’m ready for preseason games. I’m very excited to play.”
These days, Scherbak is one of five Russian-speaking players on the Canadiens’ training camp roster. The youngest of the bunch, Scherbak has already learned a great deal from newcomer, Alexander Semin.
“He’s amazing. He’s helped me a lot. I’ve asked him about some stuff. He’s a nice guy. It’s awesome to have guys like that around you,” praised Scherbak, who expanded upon some of the key lessons Semin and other veterans have passed along in recent weeks. “First of all, you have to be consistent. If you play one good game, you have to play the next game just like that, too. Just play simple. I have to try to stay focused and learn some stuff from NHL guys to help the team win.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
Words From The Room - September 27
Canadiens reassign nine players to the AHL St. John’s IceCaps
Canadiens assign 17 players to the AHL St. John’s IceCaps
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