BROSSARD – In Friday’s practice notebook, Greg Pateryn gets a surprise call in Hamilton, Max Pacioretty rises to the challenge, and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau learns a valuable lesson.
Welcome back: Called up from Hamilton earlier in the morning, defenseman Greg Pateryn arrived in Montreal in time to take part in the Canadiens’ practice on Friday. For a team currently searching for scoring and with a lot of depth already on the back end, the move was surprising to many, including the principal party involved.
“I wasn’t really expecting anything, but I got the call and now I’m excited to be back,” said Pateryn, who practiced alongside veteran D-man Sergei Gonchar on Friday. “Any time you’re sent down, you’re disappointed, but I took some positives from it. I got a chance to show I can play in this league and I think that went a long way. I think they were happy with my game and the way I played, so it’s good to be back and now I’m excited to keep going in the same direction.”
Pateryn’s sentiments were echoed by head coach Michel Therrien, who confirmed that the 24-year-old rearguard had left a lasting impression on the coaching staff during his previous six-game stint with the big club in February.
“Greg played really well when he was with us. I like his ability to be physical and win battles on the walls,” underlined the Habs’ bench boss, who also confirmed that Friday’s latest call-up will be in the lineup against the Islanders on Saturday. “He’s capable of moving the puck well, and we really appreciated his work the last time he played with us. That’s why we’ve called him up again.”
Tough road ahead: Of the 14 games remaining on the Canadiens’ 2014-15 regular season schedule, 11 are against teams currently in playoff positions or in the hunt for a wild card berth. It may sound like a difficult final stretch to the regular season, but the Habs wouldn’t want it any other way.
“We’ve all looked at the schedule for the rest of the year and it’s a tough one, but that’s what we want heading into the playoffs,” insisted alternate captain Max Pacioretty, whose team will face two squads near the top of the Conference standings during the upcoming road trip. “We want to be playing teams that are hungry so we can get ourselves ready to play playoff-style hockey. We play a certain way in the playoffs and that’s what made us successful last year. I think it’s time for us to start playing like that again.”
As the team’s leading scorer for the past four seasons, the 26-year-old forward has a pretty good idea of what that type of play should look like.
“You can’t get comfortable. You’ve got to always be on edge and always be competing. I feel like we’ve done the work,” continued Pacioretty, who has tallied 33 goals this season while adding another 26 assists. “We’ve got to find a way to dig ourselves out of this and give ourselves a reputation as the hardest working team in the league. We have the right group in here to do it so it’s time for us to go out there and execute.”
Bury the lead: There was once a time this season when scoring first all but guaranteed a win for the Canadiens, who went 16-for-16 to open the campaign when handling icebreaking duties – all the more reason for Thursday’s quick start gone wrong to serve as a wake-up call heading down the stretch.
“That’s the last time we should let that happen. We spoke about it this morning and we all know that we’re capable of playing better hockey,” acknowledged Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, who saw the Habs give up five unanswered goals after jumping out to an early 2-0 lead against the Sens. “When you have a team against the ropes like that, you need to finish them off. You can’t let them back into the game. That’s especially true in the playoffs.”
Fortunately with the postseason knocking at the door, the 31-year-old forward maintains that the solution to the team’s current woes is literally right in front of them.
“I think we need to spend more time in the offensive zone, because lately we’ve been sort of ‘one and done’. We’ll get that first scoring chance, but then we have trouble following it up with a second or a third,” continued Parenteau, who suited up for just the second time since March 2 on Thursday after coming back from a concussion. “That’s how you score goals in this league. We need to be hungrier. We can’t sit on a 2-0 lead. I think that’s a lesson we all learned during our last time out.”
Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com
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