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Notebook - January 9, 2015

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – In today’s notebook, Lars Eller continues to impress, Michel Therrien talks team unity, and Christian Thomas arrives.

Talk about progression: Lars Eller continues to make notable strides in his game and he’s being given a host of new responsibilities as a result. The 25-year-old Dane has responded brilliantly, continuing to improve every facet of his play, most notably in the faceoff circle. Eller is climbing the NHL ranks in that category. He’s won 57 percent of his draws in 2014-15. That’s good enough for sixth in the league.

“It’s an aspect of my game that I’m getting better at a little bit each year. The fact that I’m getting more and more experience and learning the fundamentals from veterans has a lot to do with it,” admitted Eller, who has primarily centered a line with Brandon Prust and Jiri Sekac this season. “I like where the team is headed. We’re a young group with a lot of potential and I don’t think that we’ve hit our peak potential yet. We’re heading in the right direction.”

Therrien has liked what he’s seen from the talented forward all year long.

“He’s giving us more. That comes with maturity and with an understanding of the game. He’s a guy who can have different responsibilities on the penalty kill and different responsibilities on draws,” stressed Therrien. “He’s still developing. After all, he’s still a young player. He’s making progress in his role.”

Let the good times roll: Despite dropping a 4-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lighting in their most recent outing on Tuesday, a loss that snapped the Canadiens’ six-game winning streak, Michel Therrien’s troops have plenty of reasons to smile and feel good about what they’ve accomplished through 40 games this season. That success has bred an incredible sense of unity in the locker room, and the Canadiens’ bench boss has quickly taken notice.

“Attitude is a very important thing for me. It definitely helps that we’re winning. We’ve got a tight group. They’re ready to work hard and they’ve got a good attitude. I don’t think that this group gets enough credit for their work ethic. I know it. I’m with the guys every day,” offered Therrien, whose club sits tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New York Islanders and the Anaheim Ducks for the second-highest win total in the NHL with 26 victories on the year. “This is a team that works very hard and you have to give them credit. There’s a good atmosphere at the heart of our team and that atmosphere comes with the attitude that our players have.”

That sense of togetherness has been evident over the past two days at practice, as a host of players have been involved in playing a variety of pranks on one another. Interestingly enough, Alex Galchenyuk and Dale Weise have a pretty good rivalry going on in that department.

“That’s kind of our thing. I think sitting beside each other, he’s kind of a funny guy. He likes to play pranks and stuff like that. I try to get him back as much as I can. I kind of like keeping him confident, thinking that he gets me,” explained Weise, who exchanged pranks with the Canadiens’ No. 27 while the pair were handling media obligations on Thursday. “I’ve still got a couple of pranks in store for him.”

Hello, Montreal!: In Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau’s absence, the Canadiens recalled Christian Thomas from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs on Thursday. While Thomas took part in the team’s on-ice session on Friday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, he still doesn’t know whether or not he’ll suit up against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

“I got the call on Thursday right after practice. I was pretty surprised. I didn’t know that Parenteau was hurt. It’s a good chance for me. I still don’t know if I’ll get a chance to play on Saturday. But, I came here, I saw the lines on the board and I hit the ice. I’m just really excited to be here,” offered Thomas, who has played 29 games with the Bulldogs this season. “I played with Andrighetto for two years. Bournival was also sent down a few times, so I also had a chance to play with him. We don’t pick who we play with in Hamilton. It’s the same thing here. But, it’s still good to see some familiar faces.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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