|Roman Hamrlik now has seven points in his last six games.
MONTREAL – Two players. The same phone call. Two different results. Roman Hamrlik jumped at the chance to play for the Canadiens and he wasted little time reminding Daniel Briere and the Flyers of that fact.
Early in the game, amid the braying of Briere whenever he stepped on the ice or touched the puck, Hamrlik sent a capacity crowd into a frenzy. As Briere zipped into the Canadiens zone, Hamrlik officially welcomed him back to his home province by flattening him into the boards.
“I actually had no idea it was Briere. I just saw the opening to throw a hit and I went for it, like I always do,” said Hamrlik, the game’s second star. “But when I heard the crowd react, I knew it had to be him.”
Known more for his well-rounded defensive game, Hamrlik has caught fire in recent weeks with seven points over his last six games after being held to one point in his first six games. Hamrlik got into the act by helping set up Saku Koivu to open the scoring at the 8:33 mark of the first period.
While Hamrlik has clearly found his offensive groove, seeing him get awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down in the second period had quite an effect on the Habs’ bench.
“The guys had a pretty good laugh there just before it was time for me to shoot. What a bunch of jerks,” said Hamrlik with a smile, shaking his head. “That was my first penalty shot since I was a little kid. I wasn’t sure what to do. I tried to lift it over [Martin Biron’s] pad, but I couldn’t get it high enough.”
With most of the headlines leading into Thursday’s game against the Flyers centering on a player who opted not to sign with the Canadiens, a player who did still can’t wipe the smile off his face.
“You hear about what it’s like to play in Montreal in front of these fans, but it’s been even more amazing than I ever imagined,” said Hamrlik, who signed a four-year deal with the Canadiens on July 2. “This was the best atmosphere I’ve seen so far. I could even feel it on the bench before every shift.”
If Hamrlik is feeling good about his decision to sign with the Habs, he isn’t the only one.
“I’ve gotta say, I’m really starting to like this guy,” smirked Christopher Higgins. “He’s been an awesome addition to our blue line. The guy is just so calm. When he’s out there I can’t help but take more chances offensively, it feels that good to have him back there.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com