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NJD@MTL: No chances to burn

Eric Gelinas scores lone tally in 4-1 loss to New Jersey

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL -- Eric Gelinas sure is trying to make the most of his professional tryout.

Playing his second preseason game with a Habs squad which continues to find its rhythm early on, the 26-year-old took full advantage of an opportunity to showcase his best asset on Thursday.

After all, Shea Weber wasn't on the ice against the Devils, but for a brief moment Gelinas offered up his best impression of the All-Star defenseman when he rifled a blistering shot past Keith Kinkaid on the power play in the middle frame.

"It's one of my best tools -- using my shot. I got some good opportunities on that power play -- and on the 5-on-3 later on -- so it's always good when I get to use it," admitted the Ottawa, ON native, who had a number of family and friends in attendance. "When one finally went in it felt good."

Video: NJD@MTL: Gélinas crée l'égalité avec un boulet

Likewise, with Weber getting the night off, Gelinas benefited from the type of big minutes typically reserved for the Habs assistant captain, firing four shots on goal and adding a hit over 21:11 of ice time.

But was it enough to make a statement to management early on?

"It's never enough," stressed the former 54th overall pick from the 2009 NHL Draft. "You've got to do it all over and over again, especially in my situation, with no contract and stuff. It's a work in progress, but I think it's going in the right direction, so I just have to keep working hard."

Fortunately for Gelinas, head coach Claude Julien shared his own take on the matter.

"He's played a couple of preseason games now, and we're going to continue watching him. That means he's still in the mix," revealed the Habs bench boss. "He moves the puck well out of his zone, he has good composure against oncoming attacks… he has all of those things. I'm sure there are plenty of reasons why he was in the minors last year, but that doesn't mean he can't be back in the NHL. I'm going to continue evaluating him."

Gelinas for his part insists he knows what was missing a year ago, and what he needs to work on before he can be back in the big leagues.

"I don't really look at the stats that much. I'm in this situation because there were some things I needed to improve. Those are the things that I'm working on right now," continued the former Avalanche and Devils rearguard. "Goals and stats [like tonight] are just a bonus, but they do feel good."

Video: Eric Gelinas on his power play goal vs NJD

Still looking for that first one

The Habs are winless in their first three preseason games, but there's hardly any panic among the team's veterans.

"This time of the year is all about getting your rhythm back," underlined goaltender Carey Price, who played his first full game of the preseason, and hinted he may have two more in him before October. "I've still got some work to do, but I felt pretty good."

But for some of the younger guns, a win right now -- preseason as it may be -- could be the difference between getting into the boss's good books.

"If you're on a winning team, the coach is going to like you a little more I think," cracked Michael McCarron, who dished out eight hits on the night. "Everybody plays this game to win, and you've got to have that will to try to get the job done. If you win hockey games, it means things are going right and it makes you and the team look better."

Video: Michael McCarron on Thursday's game vs NJD

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