NEWARK - Just as the Canadiens hit the ice at the Prudential Center on Monday morning, the club announced the acquisition of forward Jordan Weal from the Arizona Coyotes.
One player who is quite familiar with Weal's game is assistant captain Brendan Gallagher, who went up against his fellow British Columbia native while the pair were still honing their skills in the WHL.
Gallagher, of course, was a member of the Vancouver Giants, while Weal was plying his trade with the Regina Pats.
"I know how good he is. He was one of the more talented players in our age group growing up. He'll be able to have an impact," praised Gallagher, regarding the 26-year-old newcomer. "Hopefully, he can come here and stick around and have a strong impact with our group as well and do what he's always done. He's got a lot of talent, and there's a pretty good opportunity here for him, so hopefully he comes in and just does his thing."
Video: Brendan Gallagher on the arrival of Jordan Weal
It was back on January 11 that Weal was dealt from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Coyotes. He has four goals and 11 points in 47 games during the 2018-19 campaign.
According to Gallagher, the North Vancouverite's trademark speed, among other key attributes, makes him a perfect fit with the current group.
"That's our team identity. He moves really well and he thinks the game," explained Gallagher. "He's a competitive guy as well, so I think he'll come in here and do well."
For his part, head coach Claude Julien wasn't about to confirm where Weal will be slotted. He's going to give himself some time to evaluate the new addition before making any decisions.
"We've got a lot of players now, so he definitely comes in and gives us another body. He gives us some depth. He's a right-handed shot. He can play center. He can play wing," mentioned Julien. "We're going to wait and see when he gets here and give him a chance to get used to his new teammates and then we'll see from there."
Video: Claude Julien's pre-game press conference @ NJD
Focusing on the task at hand
The Canadiens weren't about to let the looming trade deadline get in the way of their preparation for Monday night's tilt against the Devils.
They simply couldn't afford to do that, especially after the way things played out in their previous outing in Toronto.
Players wanted to keep things as routine as possible.
"It's pretty cliché to say it, but it's normal," said Gallagher, when asked about the current mood in the locker room. "We're preparing for a game. Obviously, there's a lot going on around us, but it goes by pretty quick. We come to the rink, there's a pre-game skate, you go back, you eat and you sleep and when you wake up it's all pretty much done. There's not that much time to be all that concerned about it. You get ready for a game and prepare to win a game against a good hockey club."
A veteran bench boss like Julien doesn't get distracted easily, either.
"Especially on game day, my job is still to focus on what we need to do to win," stressed Julien. "That's the most important thing right now is we need to win this hockey game. That's where my focus, my attention is."
After all, the Canadiens find themselves in a playoff spot and the battle to maintain that standing mandates a high-quality outing in the Garden State.
"I like the fact that we've played well enough to be in a playoff spot and I think we're good enough to continue being in a playoff spot. Right now, all we've got to do is show it, prove it and continue to win hockey games," said Julien. "We had a tough loss last game, so it's up to us to bounce back tonight with a really good performance and try and get some momentum here moving forward."