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Poehling: 'It's exciting to be back'

The American centered a line between Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen at Monday's practice on the South Shore

by Pierre-Antoine Mercier, translated by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

BROSSARD - Ryan Poehling had been waiting impatiently for the call.

The 20-year-old American finally heard the phone ring on Sunday, confirming that he was back with the Canadiens.

Even if his cell phone was always close by, Poehling was still surprised when the call came through.

"I was really excited. I was playing Fortnite with one of my teammates when I learned the news," Poehling recounted with a laugh. "I called my parents to tell them. It's exciting to be back."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: 👀#GoHabsGo | @LilUziPoehlss pic.twitter.com/cG8CYrbksR

The Habs' first-round pick (25th overall) in 2017 recognizes his debut in the American Hockey League didn't quite go according to plan, as he was held off the scoresheet for his first three games with the Laval Rocket.

According to Poehling, it had nothing to do with the injury he suffered in training camp, but was rather more of a mental block.

"I had a slow start. I would say I wasn't really focused. I was still a bit frustrated that I got sent to Laval. I think that rubbed off on my game the first few weeks," explained the Lakeville, MN native after practice at the Bell Sports Complex on Monday. "Once I put my frustration aside, I started to play a lot better."

Video: Ryan Poehling on his call-up from Laval

Poehling got back on track after that for the Rocket, scoring two goals for five points in his past 10 games.

The forward should get to suit up for his first NHL game since that infamous contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs back in April when he stormed onto the scene with a hat trick and the shootout winner.

Having now played in both leagues, Poehling believes his style of play is better suited for the NHL.

"I think they're two completely different leagues. I would say the NHL is a more systems-oriented league, and it's less so in the AHL," outlined Poehling. "I'm a systems guy, so I think the NHL is more for me."

For his part, head coach Claude Julien says he's thrilled to have the 6-foot-2, 204-pound center back in the fold.

"He's a guy who's had some good stretches here, whether it was his game last year or during training camp before he got hurt. He's a player with a lot of maturity in his game," shared the Habs bench boss. "He does the little things well. He played well in the preseason. We saw a lot of good things in him. He has good size, and that's what we need at center."

Video: Claude Julien's press conference

At Monday's practice in Brossard, Julien slotted Poehling in between Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen. Expect to see that line stay intact for Tuesday night's showdown with the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Check out the lines and powerplay units featured at Monday's practice in Brossard. #GoHabsGo https://t.co/FMGgeIgMuA

According to the veteran skipper, the three players should gel well together on the ice.

"He's a guy who plays in a straight line. The wingers he has seem to play the same way," mentioned Julien. "I hope those three players will bring us a certain dimension we're going to need tomorrow."

As for Poehling, he'd like to use Byron's speed to make space and generate scoring chances.

"We can play with a lot of speed. Pauly is probably one of the fastest players in the League," declared Poehling. "I'm excited to get to play with them and to play Boston. They have a good team. It's going to be a good test."

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