BROSSARD - Max Pacioretty is a competitive man.
Even in the dog days of summer, with training camp but a glimmer in the eye, Pacioretty still plays at full throttle wherever and whenever he steps on the ice. And so, with the preseason now underway, there is no doubt the captain heads into every game with his foot firmly planted on the pedal - something that comes quite intrinsically to the five-time 30-goal scorer.
"It has to be natural, it's just the competitive spirit," the 28-year-old outlined after practice on Friday, a day after the Canadiens lost in exhibition to the New Jersey Devils. "No matter the situation you're in, you have to give it your all. We've dropped three preseason games. People say that it's just preseason, but at the same time we want to win."
Pacioretty may have been hoping for a better record three games into the exhibition schedule, but he pointed out that training camp is the perfect chance for players on the bubble to showcase that competitive spirit and make their mark.
"Guys have an opportunity to make the team," he went on. "Guys have the opportunity to move up in the ranks."
Video: Pacioretty on the intensity level at camp
One player trying to secure a spot who has stood out for Pacioretty is forward Charles Hudon, whose intensity level at camp has so far yielded an excellent September for the 23-year-old.
"There are a lot of opportunities for him to come in and help our team. We're looking for guys who can score goals and he fits that mold," praised Pacioretty, who's no stranger to putting the puck in the net, what with 209 NHL markers to his name. "He's had a lot of success at the AHL level, he has great skills, he has a really good stick and shot. He's had an amazing camp so far."
"He's worked hard to earn it, he's been putting his work in through the ranks and in the minors," he continued. "It's good to see him get a chance and he's making the most of it right now."
In case anyone needed a second opinion on Hudon, Pacioretty's new summer training mate and likely linemate this season Jonathan Drouin echoed his teammate's assessment of the young winger.
"He was impressive in both the intrasquad scrimmage and the game against the Capitals. He started strong and kept it up throughout the game," said Drouin, who played on a line with Hudon at the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmö, Sweden. "He skated well, made good plays. Charles is an offensive talent who's proved it at the AHL level, and he wants to earn a spot in the NHL."
Video: Drouin on Mete and Hudon
Hudon isn't the only young gun whose intensity level is at the maximum for the Canadiens, but that can mean different things to different people. In the case of Martin Reway, who is returning to hockey after a year-long medical absence, working hard at camp is about getting his legs back and getting caught up energy-wise.
"Since the rookie camp games in Toronto, which were my first games after 16 months [off], I feel much better now," explained the 22-year-old. "I know I'm not 100% but I feel better every day. I'm doing a little bit more every day and trying to be there as soon as possible."
Video: Reway on his conditioning
The Canadiens' fourth-round pick (116th overall) in 2013, Reway came to Montreal prepared for a long road back to top shape following his ordeal, but is already counting down the days until he can see game action.
"I'm excited, obviously, but they don't want to send me there and see I'm not ready yet. They're patient and I'm working hard in practice and off the ice," he concluded. "It's going to be a long process, but I feel a little bit better every day."