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Notebook - Nov. 1, 2010

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
BROSSARD – In today’s Notebook: P.K. the sponge, Halpern the vet, Martin on what’s best for the team, and Cammy’s glass is half-full.


Stiff upper lip: Broach the subject of the struggling power-play to anyone in the Canadiens dressing-room and the consensus remains the same: Statistics don’t tell the whole story. Despite being at the bottom of the league with a 7.7% success rate, Michael Cammalleri is quick to point out that when a teams’ play is looking sharp at even strength, the power-play can’t be far behind.

“Believe it or not, we really haven’t hit that level of frustration with our power-play that people might have expected. We’re doing a lot of things right and getting some great chances even though the stats might not suggest it right now,” said Cammalleri whose single goal with the man-advantage came last Monday against Phoenix. “I think it’s a lot more telling of what we’re accomplishing on the whole that we’ve been very effective at 5-on-5. It’s only a matter of time before that kind of success will lead to the power-play getting hot too.”

The complete package:
Tuesday night in Columbus, P.K. Subban will likely find himself teamed up once again with veteran Roman Hamrlik, his defensive partner for much of last year’s playoffs. With such a wealth of experienced players to draw on, Subban is continues to shape his game while settling into a role where versatility is key.

“Roman’s a great player. He brings a lot of experience with him that makes my job easier on the ice. Like playing with Markov, I’m just trying to take as much of their games as possible and incorporate them into mine,” explained Subban on focusing on all areas of his performance. “I’m trying to make sure I work on absolutely everything. You don’t want to just be known as a shooter or a passer, you want to be able to do whatever the moment calls for so the puck can find its way into the net.”

He’s seen it all: After suiting up for 731 games in the NHL, Jeff Halpern knows a thing or two about the different roles that need to be filled for a team to find success. Taking up a more defensive role with the Canadiens this year has strangely led to the veteran igniting his offensive spark since the season began. His seven points in 11 games is currently only topped by the likes of Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec.
Watch Jeff Hapern's highlight reel.

“I think success over the course of a season goes in cycles. When you’re getting points you obviously tend to play with more confidence. It’s always possible to score 20, 30, 40 or even 50 goals – you just have to take advantage when the opportunities come along,” assessed Halpern who enjoyed a 21 goal season with Washington in 2000-01. “My role here is a lot different from what it was when I had that season. If it happens again, it happens, but if not, you still have to do your job.”

For the greater good: With the return of Andrei Markov, Canadiens’ coach Jacques Martin is suddenly finding himself with “a nice puzzle to solve” now that he has eight healthy defensemen in his lineup. By all accounts, the two players who should find themselves watching the game from Columbus’ press box Tuesday night are Ryan O’Byrne and Jaroslav Spacek. When asked if a gentle approach was necessary when delivering the kind of news that often comes with his job, Martin explained that he’s always maintained the same approach in those situations.

“You have to be fair and treat the players with respect. That’s really the key. I think Craig Rivet who’s a veteran defenseman was left out of the lineup for Buffalo’s last few games. I also remember when I was coaching the Senators and Randy Cunneyworth was captain, I had to sit him out during a stretch of the playoffs,” recalled Martin. “As a coach you always have to make what you think are the best decisions for the team on the whole as well as for the individual player.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com



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