RALEIGH – In Saturday’s road notebook, Beaulieu learns from the master, Parenteau and Plekanec talk line changes and the Habs look to pick up where they left off before the break.
Howdy Partner: When the Habs hit the ice in Raleigh on Saturday afternoon, there was a new defensive pairing patrolling the blue line during practice with a combined 1,318 games of NHL experience between them. Accounting for just 43 of those games, Nathan Beaulieu is looking forward to lining up alongside – and learning from – 20-year veteran Sergei Gonchar when the puck drops at PNC Arena on Monday night.
“He’s a guy I look up to. I remember watching him as a kid and it’s pretty cool I get to share a pairing with him,” admitted the 22-year-old defenseman, who was not yet born when the Capitals drafted Gonchar 14th overall in 1992. “I’m going to learn a lot from him. I’m excited. He’s a type of player I want to be. He’s a mobile guy who produces offensively and he’s a great teammate. I just have to look at him as a veteran and he’s a guy I have to model my game after.”
New Wingmen: No stranger to welcoming new wingers to his line since making his Canadiens debut in 2003, Tomas Plekanec has grown accustomed to adapting to a revolving door of linemates over the years. Ready to try out a new look line with P-A Parenteau and natural centerman David Desharnais on either wing against the ‘Canes, Plekanec doesn’t expect it to take long for the trio to hit its stride.
“New ones again – I’ve never seen that before,” joked Plekanec, who has centered nine different wingers already this season. “I played with [Desharnais] on the power play before, but it’s another combination. We’re going to work really hard and we’ll work well together. They’re good offensively and I’ll try to fit in in the French group there.”
For his part, Parenteau is also pumped to be rekindling a linemance with a centerman he’s already enjoyed plenty of success alongside this season.
“We haven’t even hit the midway point in the season yet, so there’s still plenty of time to be trying out changes like this. We’re really happy to be playing with Pleky,” offered the Hull, QC native. “I’ve had my best games of the year with him this season. You add David to that, and I think this can be a winning combo for us.”
Holiday Legs: Having left Montreal a day earlier than usual for the four game road trip, the Habs had a chance to skate off any residual egg nog left over from a three-day Christmas break. Despite being in his seventh year in the league, assistant captain Max Pacioretty admits he’s yet to discover a secret for maintaining momentum during the time apart.
“There’s no possible way. It wasn’t sharp out there, but we were just going to shake the rust off and get the legs going and I think that was the purpose of having the skate today. The goal is to feel better tomorrow and then be ready come game time,” explained Pacioretty, whose team is coming into Carolina with a 6-4-0 record over the last 10 games. “It’s nice to have three days off, especially going in with some momentum and confidence. It’s nice to feel good about yourself over the break and then come back with a little bit of a fresh start and be ready to pick up where we left off.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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