MONTREAL – Much like the Champlain Bridge at any time of day, the congestion is piling up on the Canadiens blue line at the moment.
With six defenseman already on NHL contracts and a handful of youngsters nipping at their heels, Sunday night’s game against the Wild promises to be another opportunity to help the rookies make their mark.
“The more ice time I get, the more chance I have to prove myself,” explained Alexandre Picard, who enjoyed time on the first powerplay unit in his first preseason game on Friday night. “During the first game, we weren’t 100% on the powerplay but we watched some video since then. P.K. [Subban] and I have made some adjustments and we’re ready to go.”
Hit by some hard luck on the injury front in the last few seasons, Mathieu Carle knows better than most just how deep the Habs’ blue line really is. Now, a fully healthy Carle is ready to turn some heads at the Bell Centre against Minnesota.
“I’m only 22 years old. Some guys like Francis Bouillon don’t peak until a little later on and still have great NHL careers. I know I’m close to the NHL. Sometimes you just have to wait until the opportunity is there,” described Carle. “I’m maybe not the kind of player you’re going to notice from the first game. But after a dozen games, people will be like, ‘Oh, he’s in these every night.’”
Hitting the ice as the grizzled veteran in the Habs’ D corps against the Wild, 25-year-old blue-liner Ryan O’Byrne has a few plans of his own in mind.
“I want to be part of our Top 6 this year,” admitted O’Byrne. “I’m more experienced now and I know I have to be more consistent. I have to bring a physical element every night, clear out the front of the net and just keep my game simple. I know what I’m capable of.” Alexandre Harvey is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.
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