BROSSARD -- The Canadiens held the first of two Thanksgiving weekend practices at the Bell Sports Complex on Sunday, with just four days remaining before the regular season opener in Buffalo.
On this weekend dedicated to giving thanks, Mikhail Sergachev does indeed have much to be thankful for as he continues to stick with the big club while the number of days remaining in training camp can now be counted on one hockey mitt.
The fact that he could become the first 18-year-old defenseman to crack the Canadiens' permanent roster since Petr Svoboda did the same in 1984-85 only adds to his gratitude.
"It's not only Montreal, but in the whole League. Not many guys make the team at 18," acknowledged the Canadiens' ninth-overall pick from the 2016 NHL Draft of the odds he's overcome to date. "Any day I can get cut and go back to Junior, so I'm still [taking things] day-by-day. I didn't make the team yet."
But even if history isn't on his side, Sergachev still has a lot leaning in his favor to level the playing field, beginning with a helpful countryman on the blue line.
"I feel confident playing with [Alexei Emelin] because we're both Russian, and we can speak Russian to each other," added the Nizhnekamsk-native of his Togliatti-born defensive partner. "It makes things much easier [in that respect], but he's also a great defenseman."
And luckily for the rest of his new teammates, you don't need to be fluent in Russian to catch onto that confidence.
"His poise is his biggest asset. When he gets the puck he never panics," dished Nathan Beaulieu on the 18-year-old rearguard. "That's the biggest thing when you're a young defenseman -- when you get nervous you make mistakes. I see a lot of Marky [Andrei Markov] in him because of the way he slows the game down. He's good with his stick and is able to make simple fast plays that help our offense -- the forwards love it. He's a special kid."Video: Sergachev evaluates his camp with just four days left
NEW, OLD DIGITS
Artturi Lehkonen hit the ice on Sunday sporting some new digits on his back, and if he showed no signs of missing his former number 46, that's because he and his 'new' 62 go way back.
"I asked for a new number, and 62 is the one I wore during my entire professional career in Europe," explained Lehkonen, who spent the previous two seasons with Frölunda HC in the Swedish Hockey League. "The reason I chose that number is because my dad was born in 1962 and he likes that number."
Having already made his pop proud all the way on the other side of the Atlantic by sticking through the final stages of the NHL preseason in Montreal, the 21-year-old Finn will nevertheless need to hurry if wants to pass along the latest good news coming out of camp.
"It's tough because of the time difference. It's around 9:00 p.m. there when we finish practice [here], so I need to be quick if I want to call him."Video: Artturi Lehkonen on his new jersey number
DECISIONS TO COME
With 26 players still at camp -- three more than the rules allow for -- some tough decisions will be weighing on the Habs brass in the coming days.
"I said following Thursday's game that we would take the weekend to reflect on our decisions. We'll have more answers [on Monday]," revealed head coach Michel Therrien during his post-practice press conference on Sunday. "A number of factors will be at play, including our players' health."
Indeed, things are looking up in that department, as Paul Byron (pneumonia), Brian Flynn (neck), and Max Pacioretty (flu) were all back on the ice with their teammates. Only Jeff Petry (injured on Thursday against Toronto) was absent from practice.
"I haven't received news yet whether he'll be healthy to start the season or not. He'll be evaluated tomorrow, and I'll know more then," concluded the Habs' bench boss.Video: Michel Therrien on the final days of camp