MONTREAL - After turning in a pair of solid performances at center, Nick Suzuki is being presented with a brand new challenge.
On Saturday night, the 20-year-old London, ON native will be tasked with playing right wing on a line with veterans Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar when the Canadiens battle the Ottawa Senators.
It goes without saying that Suzuki is eager to seize the latest opportunity presented to him by head coach Claude Julien.
"It's just an opportunity to show that I can play with some of the top players on the team. It should be exciting," said Suzuki, who registered two assists and a highlight-reel shootout goal in the Habs' 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers in their most recent preseason outing. "I'm really looking forward to playing with those guys. In practice, you can see how much skill they have."
Video: Nick Suzuki on the opportunity ahead on Saturday
The respect Suzuki has for his new linemates is off the charts.
"Both of them are really smart players," praised the Canadiens' hopeful. "Tatar knows how to be in the right spots. He's a great shooter, and also a great passer. Danault has turned into one of the best two-way forwards in the League. It's a great opportunity for me and hopefully I play well."
Based on his performances thus far, there's no reason to believe Suzuki will be slowing down in the nation's capital.
In fact, Tatar is already a fan.
"He's a super talented guy and really smart. I'm actually really looking forward to playing with him. It's usually fun to play with these kinds of guys. He's young and he's super excited to be here. He's battling," mentioned Tatar, who boasts 507 games of NHL experience. "I'm just going to try to get on that train and enjoy it with him."
Danault admires the young sniper's skill set as well, and feels the trio has some serious potential.
"He's full of confidence. It will be exciting to watch him play. I know he's an excellent passer. He also has a very good shot and good vision," said Danault. "This could create some sparks."
Video: FLA@MTL: Kulak redirects home Suzuki's saucer pass
So why move Suzuki to the wing now? According to Julien, it's all about gauging the full extent of his game.
"What we've seen is he's done a really good job at center, and now we want to see what he's going to be able to do on the wing. This is training camp. This is evaluation time," said the Canadiens' bench boss. "This is the time to discover things, and that's what we're doing."
Kinkaid gets the nod
Goaltender Keith Kinkaid will be in between the pipes at the Canadian Tire Centre. It will mark his first preseason outing.
Admittedly, the 30-year-old Farmingville, NY native has been chomping at the bit to get to work.
"I'm feeling good in camp. I'm just going to play my game," said Kinkaid. "Even though it's the preseason, we want to keep the winning streak going and build that culture. I just want to feel good about my game in the first start."
Video: Keith Kinkaid's summer workout routine
As for his relationship with goaltending coach Stephane Waite, Kinkaid is pleased to report that everything is going smoothly.
"We've gotten along really well. We worked on a few things so far, and we're going to keep on doing that. I feel really good about my game right now, and our relationship is really good," mentioned the six-year NHL veteran, who signed a one-year contract with Montreal on Canada Day. "It's just little things from last year [we're working on] that might've crept into my game from either bad habits or being tired, just little things that we wanted to correct and be on the same page with."
The latest on the injury front
The Canadiens confirmed on Friday that forward Ryan Poehling was sidelined indefinitely with a concussion suffered earlier in the week against the Panthers in Bathurst, NB.
Video: FLA@MTL: Belzile puts Canadiens ahead with SHG
Julien provided a brief update on Poehling's status, noting that "the symptoms weren't there until the next morning."
"That happens with concussions," said Julien. "As soon as we saw those, we took the adequate measures to deal with it."
The Habs also confirmed that forward Michael McCarron would be sidelined for approximately six weeks with a groin injury.