BROSSARD - The Canadiens will have a fresh face in their lineup on Thursday night.
After being called up from the AHL's Laval Rocket, left-winger Nicolas Deslauriers will make his Habs debut against the Arizona Coyotes at the Bell Centre.
The 26-year-old LaSalle, QC native took part in the morning skate on the South Shore and was featured on a line with Jacob de la Rose and Byron Froese.
"I'm going to wear the jersey proudly for myself and for everyone I know. I'm here to do a job and I'm going to do everything I can to stay here," said Deslauriers, who put up three goals and five points in 14 games with the Rocket so far this season. "I played really well there and I'm going to keep things simple. I just have to play the same way I did in Laval and good things will happen. I just can't get out of my element."
Video: Nicolas Deslauriers on being called up by the Habs
Acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on October 4, Deslauriers quickly impressed the Canadiens' brass during his time with Sylvain Lefebvre's squad.
"I saw him play in Laval and I've received good feedback on him. We also saw him play with Buffalo. He's big and he skates well. He plays smart hockey and makes good decisions. He did a lot of good things in Laval and he brings a lot of energy. We can definitely benefit from that," said Julien, on his new charge. "This is a good opportunity for him to put his talent on display… He hit everything that moved on the ice in Buffalo, but he can bring more than that."
It goes without saying that Deslauriers is eager to capitalize on his chance to suit up for the big club right from the start.
"I was a professional in Laval and I wanted to win with the Rocket. Now, I want to win with the Canadiens," said Deslauriers, who boasts 12 goals, 30 points and 186 penalty minutes in 211 career NHL games - all with Buffalo. "I talked to Claude a bit after the game in Laval yesterday. He doesn't have to say much to me, though. I know what to bring."
And, Julien believes that Deslauriers is most definitely up the challenge in front of him.
"We're extremely satisfied with his attitude," praised Julien. "He had the right idea from his very first day in Laval. He took on a leadership role immediately."
Video: Claude Julien's press conference
In the Coyotes, Deslauriers and the rest of Julien's troops are going up against a club that has just two wins during the 2017-18 campaign and is winless in five straight outings.
Rick Tocchet's club currently sits last in the league with just seven points in 20 games.
That isn't going to change the way the Canadiens go about their business on Thursday night, though. That would likely be a rather costly mistake, according to Brendan Gallagher.
"Their record isn't where they want it to be, but they have players capable of being dangerous and guys that you have to be aware of. The minute you think you're too good to play someone in this league is the minute you're going to be humbled," explained Gallagher. "I think it's important for us to understand that there was a time this year when we weren't putting together wins. If we're not prepared to do the things we need to do that have made us successful as of late, we're not going to get the result that we want."