CLERMONT – Only one sleep to go before the Canadiens’ regular season officially gets underway Thursday night in Toronto.
After enjoying the past few days at their retreat in Quebec’s beautiful Charlevoix region, Thursday’s Toronto game should be a good indicator of how much good all that time spent together was for the team.
The “Other” Goaltender: Carey Price
was conspicuously absent from the Canadiens practice at Clermont arena today, after being sidelined by a case of the flu. The team needed a goalie for their drill anyways of course, and none other than Habs’ goaltending coach Pierre Groulx decided to step into Price’s pads to fill in for the morning.
“Whenever one of the goalies can’t practice for whatever reason, it’s usually up to me to get some equipment on so there are at least two goaltenders for practice. These guys are all really good shots and they always seem to find those little spaces to squeeze the puck through. After shooting on me all morning, I think I boosted everyone’s confidence a bit,” admitted Groulx. “Luckily, I’ve worn a lot of goaltending equipment in the past, so al least I’m used to dealing with the smell.” Making Due:
With a few of his key guys missing from the lineup for the season’s first game, it’s natural that Jacques Martin might be a little nervous. But as always, the Habs’ head-coach appeared calm, cool and ready for anything…even if his starting goalie wasn’t able to practice Wednesday morning.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He started feeling sick at some point yesterday then and wasn’t in shape to practice today,” explained Martin when asked about his starting netminder. Price did, however, make the trip to the arena to sign some autographs and make sure his Clermont fans weren’t disappointed.
“We know we’ll be facing a tough opponent, but it’ll give certain guys the chance to raise their game to the next level,” said Martin, who will be expected to submit his final roster to the NHL by 3:00pm.Magic Moment: Tomas Plekanec
knows how important it can be to go the extra mile for the Canadiens’ youngest fans. In addition to signing autographs everyday during the 3-day Clermont training camp, the Habs’ center took the time to visit with one very special boy and help create a memory that will last forever. Eleven-year-old Louka’s dream came true when his favourite hockey player, No.14, stopped by to say hello.
“It’s the greatest thing we can do as players. I was extremely happy to get to meet him, shake his hand and sign his jersey and stick. It was incredible,” said Plekanec after his meeting with the young leukemia patient. The visit was set up by the Children’s Make a Wish Foundation. “Hearing him personally tell me that I was his favorite player was an indescribable experience. I’m thrilled he’ll be able to come see one of our games, and I hope it’ll be a great night for him.”
The Habs’ bus left Clermont on Wednesday afternoon. Next stop for the Canadiens: the Air Canada Center and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Justin Fragapane.
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