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The Notebook - Sept. 30, 2010

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
BROSSARD – With a new captain officially helming the team, Brian Gionta and the Montreal Canadiens hit the ice at the Bell Sports Complex to prep for Thursday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Size Matters: If the main goal for a prospect trying to make the Canadiens regular season roster is to get noticed, then Alex Henry is at a natural advantage. Standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 231 lbs, the hulking blue-liner has the potential to be one of the most imposing bodies on the ice for Jacques Martin’s squad. While Henry certainly has the kind of stature that stands out in a crowd, it’s how he uses it that he’s hoping gets him noticed by the Habs coaching staff.

“There are only two games left to play in the preseason, so obviously the intensity’s going to get ramped up from this point on. I want to play a physical game – as a big player, I know that’s what people expect of me – but I also want to play steady. I never want to put myself out of position just to get a big hit, but that also doesn’t mean I can’t play hard and physical,” explained Henry. “I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that so far, and I think that’s why I’m still here.”

Hero’s Welcome:
On Thursday night, fans will have the chance to meet the newly-minted captain of the Montreal Canadiens as he takes to the ice, likely accompanied by linemates Scott Gomez and Benoit Pouliot. For Gionta as well as the crowd at the Bell Centre, Thursday’s game should prove to be a very memorable one.

“I’ll be honest, I’m still not sure I’ll wind up getting a bigger ovation than Subban’s. The fans really love that guy,” kids Gionta, after finishing his first practice as captain. “The guys haven’t made too much fun of me or tried to pull any pranks on me yet, but it’s still early. I’m sure I’ll be getting a lot of it in the near future.”

Familiar Territory: Fans had to wait three preseason games to see Canadiens newcomer Lars Eller be assigned to his natural position of center. While he promises that he was just as comfortable stepping in as a winger, Eller doesn’t try to hide his preference when it comes to the position he enjoys playing most.

“It’s my natural position, but I will say that I’m happy I got to have the chance to play both. It makes things a lot easier for the coach,” explained the young forward who should be able to fully utilize his skill-set now that he finds himself playing center. “I’ll have the chance to play a little deeper now, use my speed to gain the zone, and hopefully make some great passes to my wingers.”

Meet the Neighbors: With the last wave of cuts, Jeff Halpern is starting to learn who his teammates will be when the 2010-11 season finally kicks off, and so far, the veteran likes what he sees.

“We’ve got a great team. When you look at a team from the outside you think you know the really good players. But when you’re a part of the team, you start to realize that some guys are better than you thought and some are worse,” said Halpern. “I’m amazed with how good the guys are on this team. There’s a lot of skill, a lot of speed, and a lot of offensive creativity here. With a healthy lineup we should be great.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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