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New week, new lines

Nick Suzuki was back on the second line at practice while Nick Cousins earned himself a promotion

by Pierre-Antoine Mercier, translated by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - With Joel Armia on the shelf, head coach Claude Julien had to mix things up among his forward lines.

To that end, youngster Nick Suzuki found himself at right wing next to Max Domi and Artturi Lehkonen on the Canadiens' second trio.

The 20-year-old forward started 2019-20 on that line before spending the past three games on the fourth combination alongside Nate Thompson and Nick Cousins.

For Suzuki, the line change won't have any impact on the way he approaches his game.

"Our four lines play pretty much the same way. It's just two different players," mentioned Suzuki following practice at the Bell Sports Complex. "I've already played with them so I feel very comfortable being back with them."

The Vegas Golden Knights' first-round pick (13th overall) in 2017 has been used an average of 14:24 per game, which is eighth-highest among Habs forwards this season.

Video: Nick Suzuki on returning to the second line

The London, ON native recognizes that it takes a bit of time for young players making the jump to the NHL ranks to fully understand their role.

"I know that as a young player, you have to try to find your place on the team," explained Suzuki. "There have been a lot of line combinations this season, but everyone is comfortable playing with anyone. That's part of hockey. I just have to adapt."

The 5-foot-11, 201-pound forward seems to have found his place indeed, having scored his first two NHL goals in his last three games.

The most recent Ontario Hockey League playoff MVP says he's feeling more and more comfortable in Montreal.

"I think I'm more able to read the play. I feel more comfortable," affirmed Suzuki. "I'm starting to make plays and rediscover my style of play. I'm feeling better and better."

With Suzuki on the second line at Tuesday's practice in Brossard, Cousins got a promotion as well, moving up to the third line at left wing on a trio with Jonathan Drouin and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: 👋 Brossard! "Wave" been looking forward to getting back to work.#GoHabsGo

The Philadelphia Flyers' third-round pick (68th overall) in 2011 feels he's up to the challenge.

"I can play right wing, left wing, or center. I'm just waiting for them to ask me to play defense," cracked Cousins. "I don't want to change anything in my game. I just want to make space on the ice and head to the net. I'm going to do my thing and let them control the puck."

Video: Nick Cousins on his new line

The Belleville, ON native skated in his first three games as a Hab last week, collecting a pair of assists including one to remember on Victor Mete's first career goal.

Cousins is pleased with his debut in bleu-blanc-rouge, but still feels like he has more to offer.

"There's always room for improvement. I always want to improve. I would say my timing isn't exactly where I want it to be, but it's only been three games," outlined Cousins. "I just want to improve every game and every practice."

The Canadiens play their first game of the week on Thursday when they welcome the San Jose Sharks to the Bell Centre.

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