BROSSARD -- Entering the playoffs for the first time is a special experience for any NHL rookie. Doing it as a member of the Canadiens as they get set to face the Boston Bruins is a different story altogether.
While the Habs may have five players on their roster that have already hoisted the Stanley Cup at least once in their career, they also have a handful of first-timers, eager to ramp up the intensity for their second season debuts. Coming to Montreal as part of a deal that saw last year’s playoff hero, Jaroslav Halak traded to St. Louis, rookie Lars Eller
will be gunning to make a splash of his own when the puck drops Thursday night in Boston.
“As a kid, your dream is always just to make it to the NHL and you put all focus towards that. But then once you’re there and you’ve reached that goal, it’s time to set some new ones and the next step is to get in to the playoffs and that’s where we are now,” said the 21-year-old Dane.
“I think we have good chemistry and experienced veterans who are taking on the leadership roles they should, while we also have a mix of young guys that are hungry to get out there and play, that want to get better, win and learn,” added Eller. “I feel excited and I’m going into this with a lot of energy. This is going to be my first playoffs and I really want to enjoy it.”
Another player looking to make his presence felt in his first playoff series is Ryan White
, whose tough style of play will be a welcome addition to the Habs roster as they get set to face the Bruins. After taking some shots from the Leafs’ Mike Brown in Saturday night’s game in Toronto and then taking a puck in the mouth during the Habs’ Monday morning skate, the gritty forward was wearing his own brand of "game face" when he addressed the media on Tuesday.
“It’s been a tough week for my face, but that’s the way it goes, it’s just part of the game,” grinned White through a swollen lip.
“For me, it’s my first playoff game, my first series, and I’ve personally been waiting a long time to be a part of this and I can’t wait to start racing for that cup. I’m going to play hard and I’m going to go in there on Thursday and continue and do my best to bring the same intensity and grit to our game that I try to every night,” continued the 23-year-old Brandon, Manitoba native.
“We know what they’re about. You have to respect their size, respect what kind of team they have and by no means are we going to go in there and try to run them over and beat them that way. We’re going to beat them with our skill and our speed. Pricey’s going to have to be great for us, the power-play’s going to have to be great, and with any luck maybe we can entice them to take a few extra penalties along the way too.”
One player in the Habs dressing room who understands all too well what his rookie teammates are feeling is goaltender Carey Price
who also made his playoff debut against the Bruins in 2007-08. Price would go on to win the goaltender’s duel against none other than Tim Thomas, closing out the series in style with a 5-0 game seven shutout at the Bell Centre.
“It’s another start, another challenge, and we’re all really excited to get going. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing all year long and keep the same goal as I had in the regular season,” dropped Price, having just ended the best season of his career for the Canadiens, proving he’s already come a long way since his rookie season.
“I’m staying calmer and realizing that at the end of the day it all comes down to how I feel and that’s something I can control. I’m going to rely on my teammates, they’re going to rely on me and hopefully we can put together another great run like we did last year.”Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com. SEE ALSOComments: Eller
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