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On with the show

by Steven Nechay @canadiensmtl /

BROSSARD -- The bright lights from Thursday's annual media day were packed up the night before, but the Habs were back in the spotlight for the second day of training camp on Friday.

Trading in green screens and film sets for some more familiar tools of the trade, the Canadiens took part in their first organized scrimmage of the upcoming season before a packed house at the Bell Sports Complex.

"It's pretty cool when you get so many people coming out to watch you practice. It's the first time I experience something like this, and it's nice," admitted new Habs forward Alexander Radulov, who previously played in Nashville before spending the last four seasons with CSKA Moscow in the KHL. "It kind of makes you work harder, because you have people watching you and you want to give them a good show."

The Russian forward delivered in that respect, breaking a scoreless deadlock 29:54 into the 40-minute scrimmage, with a penalty shot goal which would turn out to be the game-winner.

"It's always nice to score, even at practice," cracked Radulov, who racked up 78 goals over 181 games in the KHL between 2012 and 2016. "I'm not going to lie to you. It's fun, but we're just getting started. We're still going to work on finding the best chemistry between us to make a good line."

The start of training camp is an exciting time of year across the NHL, but just as Radulov puts it, there's still something unique about reporting as a Hab for the first time.

"Coming from another team, there's a lot to learn at a camp like this," underlined former Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, who was acquired by the Canadiens on June 24. "It's pretty awesome to see the crowd here on a Friday morning like this. It shows how much the city supports the team, and how much they're behind us. It's up to us now to earn their respect and work for them."Video: Shaw on his first Canadiens training camp

The 'upside' of a premature end to the year meant most of the returning Habs entered the offseason with their to-do lists already prepped.

"I worked on my puck-handling this summer. Little things like getting pucks off the wall, timing things right, and just feeling confident and comfortable with myself," described defenseman Greg Pateryn, who played a career-high 38 games in 2015-16, and scored the only other goal of Friday's scrimmage. "Towards the end of the season last year, it was a good chance for me to showcase myself. I learned a lot about my game and what direction I needed to take things."

But without the benefit of NHL experience, other Habs' summer studies were spent devising a way to crack the club's roster for the first time.

"I learned a lot by going pro in the AHL last year, and I have a better idea of what to expect this season," acknowledged Nikita Scherbak, who has already made highlight reels on both sides of the border this month with a spectacular goal at Canadiens rookie camp. "I focused on my strength this summer. Getting stronger and quicker, and also working on my balance. It was the hardest-working summer of my career so far, and I feel good about it."

With the likes of Scherbak, Artturi Lehkonen, Michael McCarron -- among others -- all vying for spots on the roster, offseason preparations could turn out to be especially instrumental in finding an edge among a crowded forwards group.Video: Carr on chemistry at camp

"I had a good summer. I was on the ice a lot in July and August, working on my skating," added Daniel Carr, who made his NHL debut a season ago. "I focused on speed and power during my offseason, and after doing my fitness tests yesterday, things seem to be going in the right direction. The competition is the same every year. It doesn't matter where you go -- this is the NHL, and it's the best league in the world. Nothing is ever easy, you've got to earn everything you get, and that doesn't change here."

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