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The Notebook - March 5

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
TAMPA – In today’s notebook, Eller is in playoff mode, Sopel is Obama-bound and the coach is looking to settle the score.

Crystal ball gazing: Realizing that Saturday night’s game against the Lightning could provide a preview for a pending playoff match-up against the third-ranked Bolts, Lars Eller is looking to get a head start on his postseason planning.

Eller working on his one-timer
“This is the closest you’ll get to playoff hockey without actually being in the playoffs. Teams are battling for better positions in the standings and you want to make a good statement heading into the final stretch,” explained the rookie Habs center. “With these games we have coming up now it’s the last time we’re going to play teams we might face in the playoffs. You want to make sure you have good habits against them now so it carries over.”

Ready for a rematch: Having lost both games against Tampa so far this season – a 4-3 overtime loss in the team’s home opener and a 4-1 loss in the Sunshine State in December, Jacques Martin has every intention of re-paying the favor to Guy Boucher and the Lightning this time around.

“They’re ahead of us in the standings and they’re a team we haven’t beaten yet this year. We had a good first period against them the last time we were here but our lack of discipline hurt us,” offered the Habs bench boss. “We took too many penalties and they have a really dynamic power play that took advantage. We’ll have to be intense and much more disciplined tonight.”

Mr. Sopel goes to Washington:
Brent Sopel may not be with the Blackhawks anymore, but the newly-acquired Habs blue-liner will be reuniting with his old teammates on March 11 thanks to a special invitation from the President himself.

“I got my invite and the team was nice enough to let me go since it’s between games. I’m quite excited for that experience,” shared Sopel, who was a plus-7 during Chicago’s run to the Stanley Cup last spring. “I’ll make my way down to Washington on the 11th and have some fun at the White House. I don’t know what the details are yet, but anytime I can see the Stanley Cup with my name on it, it never gets old.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

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