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Making their case

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – It was another night of firsts at the Bell Centre on Friday against the Sens as some of the Canadiens’ young prospects made a lasting impression in their Habs debuts.

After arriving in Montreal with Lars Eller in a trade that sent Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis, Ian Schultz wasted little time making his presence felt in his first game in la Belle Province. Driving the net and coming within inches of scoring his first goal on his first shift, the rugged winger followed that up by dropping the gloves with veteran blue-liner Cody Bass just a few seconds later. 

“I had a lot of fun out there. It was good. I got into it right away with a couple of good shifts, I got hit a couple of times and ended up fighting,” described Schultz, who took the decision in his first NHL bout. “It got me into the game and I never looked back. It was fun playing in front of that kind of crowd and it was a dream come true. I got my feet wet and hopefully now I can just push off from here.”

While Schultz managed to get himself going early on, one of his fellow rookies had to wait a little longer to shake his first-game jitters.

“I watched really closely in the first half to see what Alex [Auld] was doing and got a feel for what to expect,” explained 20-year-old netminder Robert Mayer, who relieved Auld between the pipes mid-way through the second period. “I tried to relax before the game but it’s hard not to be nervous. I mean, if you’re not nervous before something like that, something is wrong. [Goaltending coach] Pierre [Groulx] just told me to stay calm in there and to have patience. Once I got on the ice, I felt great.”

Of all the Canadiens’ offseason acquisitions, the spotlight might be shining the brightest on Eller this year. The speedy Dane may not have been thrilled with his debut performance, but he still enjoyed a career-high 18:20 in ice time and finished a plus-1 on the night. 

“It was ok. I think I can do better and I wanted to do better. But it wasn’t bad and we got the win,” admitted Eller, who also threw two hits while playing alongside Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta. “[Scott and Brian] made it easy for me. I don’t think you can get much better linemates than those two. They’re always open for options. I want to do a lot of things better: I want to get more shots on the net and maybe hold onto the puck a little bit more. I think I played it a little bit safe sometimes, but as it went on it got better and I’m sure next game will be better.”

Assisting on Mathieu Darche’s game-winner in the second period, Quebec City native David Desharnais was feeling more at ease after getting a few more NHL games under his belt last year. After the game, the 5-foot-7 forward was happy to have chipped in offensively, but he was even happier with the 4-2 result.

“Everyone was on tonight and that’s how you win games: as a team.  Everyone played well,” lauded Desharnais, who was one of 10 different Habs to find their way onto the scoresheet against the Sens. “For sure all the guys played really well, so it’s kind of hard to see where I’m at in my development. At the same time, it’s great to see everyone contribute and that’s the way it should be.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

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