MONTREAL – One of the smallest players in the lineup is drawing some of the biggest praise in the Habs’ dressing room.
Watching David Desharnais
slide a perfect pass to Benoit Pouliot for the game’s opening goal on Saturday night before driving the net to tap home the Canadiens’ third goal of the evening, it was obvious why the gritty winger was told to find permanent digs in Montreal a month ago. With six points in his last three games, the Quebec City native is drawing rave reviews from the 23 people who matter most.
“Davey’s awesome,” confirmed Pouliot, who has played left wing alongside Desharnais since the speedy pivot was called up from Hamilton on New Year’s Eve. “When he first got called up he was so happy. He kept talking about how excited he was to be in the NHL and to be a Montreal Canadien and now he’s doing more than ever.”
Part of Pouliot’s enthusiasm could have something to do with the seven points he’s racked up since Desharnais’ arrival.
“When you play with him, it’s so easy. He sees the ice really well, he’s a good passer and great skater,” lauded Pouliot. “He fits in really well and he and Whitey have both been playing really well lately. It’s great for Davey; when he gets a chance like this he’s not going to miss it.
“He didn’t get drafted so it wasn’t easy for him, just going straight to the AHL and grinding it out down there,” added Pouliot of his 24 year old linemate who was (and currently still is) leading the Bulldogs with 45 points when he was called up. “The thing is, he’s always been a top scorer wherever he goes and since he was called up, you see what he’s been doing here for us.”
Desharnais’ other winger was just as glowing in his assessment of his former Bulldogs teammate.
“He’s not the fanciest player, but he makes the right plays all the time and his goal tonight was the perfect example,” explained Ryan White
. “He beats his guy going to the net, Gomer puts it in the right spot for him and it’s a goal. That put the game away. Davey stepped up big for us tonight again.”
The beneficiaries of many a perfect Desharnais feed, Pouliot and White are understandably biased when it comes to their centerman’s impact to date. But their coach is just as pleased with what he’s seen from the young sniper.
“At training camp, I saw how committed he is and when he was sent down to Hamilton, he dominated the AHL with Max Pacioretty
,” described Jacques Martin, who rewarded Desharnais with 16:13 in ice time against the Leafs. “When you build that kind of confidence in the minors, you still have that when you make the jump. He just has to keep it up.
“He’s a small player, but he never hesitates to go into high traffic areas. For sure he’s not going to play like [Milan] Lucic or a big guy like that, but he plays with no fear out there,” added the Habs bench boss. “I have complete confidence that that’s the type of game David is going to bring for us.”
Enjoying the whirlwind in the past month, Desharnais has no intention of easing up anytime soon.
“It’s amazing. Sometimes I don’t even realize what’s happening,” explained the diminutive center with a grin. “At the same time, I have to keep performing well and I think I’m starting to hit my stride. I have confidence in myself.
“It’s a psychological thing I guess, but after I scored that first goal [on January 12] everything has gone well and I’ve just kept working and now here I am,” he marveled. “But the toughest part isn’t getting here; it’s staying here. I want to stay here and I’m going to work my [butt] off to make sure I do.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
See also:Canadiens 3, Maple Leafs 0 BoxscoreThe Numbers Game - Feb. 12, 2011 Postgame comments: Martin