BROSSARD - Mike Reilly is back in Montreal for a few days looking for some new digs and checking in with the Canadiens' training staff at the Bell Sports Complex.
It's a chance for the 25-year-old defenseman to spend time exploring the city and locking down a new pad before returning to his native Minnesota where he spends his summers working out.
His training partners are fellow NHL regulars James van Riemsdyk, Jake Gardiner and Brock Nelson. In short, Reilly is in good company.
"We stick together and push each other pretty hard," said Reilly, who suited up for 19 games with the Habs last season and registered eight assists after being acquired from his hometown Wild on February 26. "Jake's father has a little warehouse that was empty right in the Twin Cities, so we moved a bunch of equipment in there. We've got everything we need. It's just us in there getting after it every day."
Reilly certainly wasn't lacking in motivation heading into the offseason after seeing his ice time spike from an average of 12:21 per game in 38 outings with Minnesota to 20:12 on the Canadiens' back end.
The University of Minnesota product is hoping to earn a similar workload come the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
"I think I took that approach into the summer, that I want to be up there with those minutes that I was playing. That's where I want to be. I'm more into the game. I'm playing in more situations and I have the puck on my stick more," said Reilly, who is eager to prove his worth during his first full season in Montreal. "I have high expectations. I think I can build off what I did the last month-and-a-half."
That includes being a difference-maker while the Canadiens are up a man.
"I feel like I can help this power play and get it where it needs to be," mentioned Reilly, who averaged 1:40 of playing time per game with the man advantage under head coach Claude Julien. "I think I can do some good things, help this team out and be able to produce at both ends of the ice."
With that goal in mind, Reilly is honing his game at a local high school rink, working on everything from shooting to puck retrieval.
He's also making his second straight appearance in Da Beauty League, a local 4-on-4 league featuring many of the top players in the area.
"Last week was my first game and there were 50 people waiting outside the rink before and after the game. It's packed in there. For summer, it's pretty incredible," described Reilly, referencing the experience at Braemar Arena in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina. "A lot of people are watching. This isn't like a 12 o'clock skate in the afternoon with nobody in the stands. It gets more and more competitive as the game goes on and you're trying to win."
It won't be long before Reilly is back competing for real, but he isn't taking anything for granted come the start of training camp.
"I want to make a good first impression. I'm kind of treating it like I'm a new player a little bit," concluded Reilly. "I know I can make a difference on this team and try to help out with my skill set. Hopefully, I'll get off to a good start here and the team can get going in the right direction right off the hop."