BROSSARD – White is close to a comeback, Plekanec looks to smarten up and there’s a new champ in town this month.
Shaking off the rust: After going under the knife this past summer to repair a sports hernia, Ryan White has missed each of his team’s 50 games so far this season. The 24-year-old forward is finally fully healed, but it will take more than just a green light from the medical staff to get the gritty winger back into the lineup.
“I’m pushing for myself to get back in. I want to play; I wanted to play last week but I have to take my time and make sure I’m ready to go,” explained White, who is working on getting his timing and conditioning back to where it needs to be before hitting the ice. “I’m not helping anyone if I’m not 100%. When I get back I want to come back and contribute and help this team win right away. The rust seems to be going away and I still have a lot of habits I have to get back in my game.”
Brains before brawn: Tomas Plekanec will be the first to admit his 2011-12 season hasn’t gone as expected. Despite sitting fourth on the team with 33 points in 50 games, the 29-year-old center knows he needs to do more and he’s already discovered the solution to his struggles.
“We need to work harder but we need to work smarter, especially,” confirmed Plekanec, who played 21:47 against the Sabres. “You can work hard but if you don’t work smart enough you don’t accomplish anything and you won’t touch the puck like we did last night. You’re just skating and chasing the puck and you don’t do anything special. We need to be on the same page and the chemistry is one thing but working smart is the key.”
Dethroning the champ: Carey Price seemed unbeatable this season in the Molson Cup standings, winning the award in October, November and December this year. All it took to usurp the All-Star netminder from capturing his fourth-straight Molson Cup was a seven-goal, 10-point performance in 11 games last month, earning two first-star nods from the fans in the process. Despite being one of the team’s most consistent performers all season long, the 22-year-old power forward is focused on doing even more to help the team win in February.
“Personal success doesn’t really feel good when the team is losing and I’m not doing enough to help the team win,” stressed Pacioretty, who scored his 18th goal of the season on Tuesday night. “We all have to realize what makes us successful and what makes me successful personally is I have to chip pucks, use my speed to retrieve it and play hard down low. When I get away from that maybe other people get away from their game because of it.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Max Pacioretty earns Molson Cup honours for January
Calm before the storm