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Called up and ready to go

Mikhail Sergachev will be in uniform to face the Red Wings on Saturday

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL /

DETROIT -- Talk about silver linings.

Just days after seeing his Windsor Spitfires eliminated from the OHL playoffs, Mikhail Sergachev is back with the big club.

The ninth overall pick from the 2016 NHL Draft was called up by the Canadiens on an emergency basis, early Saturday morning.

"My coach called me yesterday and told me I would probably be called up for [today's] game. I was surprised," admitted the 18-year-old, who was one of just two Habs -- along with Jordie Benn -- on the ice at Joe Louis arena for a brief pregame skate. "I hadn't practiced for a couple of days, but we had a good skate this morning, and now I'm ready."

Plying his trade with the Spitfires just across the Detroit River -- and with Habs regulars Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, and Alexei Emelin having not made the trip -- the timing was right to give the young Russian rearguard another chance, however brief it may be.

"My rights are with the Spitfires and we have the Memorial Cup coming up. Montreal has a lot of defensemen right now, so I feel like it will just be one game," acknowledged the Nizhnekamsk native, who nevertheless plans to make the most of his opportunity. "I want to play steady and strong, with or without the puck. I just want to show my improvements."

Video: Mikhail Sergachev on being called up

More specifically, Sergachev is eager to show off his knack for making life hard on opposing forwards.

"I feel like I've improved my game this season because I'm playing more defensively now -- more like a shutdown defenseman," explained the 6-foot-3, 205 pounder. "I think I got better in the defensive zone, and in my battles."

Saturday's game will be Sergachev's fourth with the Canadiens this season, having been held off the scoresheet in the previous three while nevertheless earning a plus-1 differential over that span.

"I had a great experience in those first three games, and felt that I got better with each one," concluded the Russian D-man. "That experience will help me today."

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