|Matt D'Agostini scored for a second straight day.
MONTREAL - The second day of training camp turned out to be a showcase for Tomas Plekanec
and Matt D’Agostini. The two forwards led the offense and Team B to two wins in as many games.
Plekanec set the stage for the right-winger’s two goals. Just as he did on Friday, D’Agostini made the most of his chances and appeared to feel right at home.
“It was a really good day for me,” said D’Agostini, the 190th pick at the 2005 draft. “My linemates played really well. Tomas has some great speed and when he’s in the offensive zone, all I have to do is get in place and he’ll find me. He sees the ice really well.”
For his part, the Czech center picked up right where he left off last year. He had a stellar second half in 2006-07, reaching the 20-goal mark for the first time in his young career.
“Last year, Carbonneau asked me to contribute more offensively,” said Plekanec. “Before, I played a more defensive role. I’m feeling better each year and I hope it continues this way.”
The Begin-Grabovski-Kovalev line was equally menacing, earning a number of scoring chances for Team B. And if that wasn’t enough, the Team B squad had the benefit of Jaroslav Halak at the top of his game. Splitting the netminding duties with Cedrik Desjardins, the young Slovak was perfect. Despite his stellar performance, Halak knows the competition is fierce at this year’s camp.
“All the goaltenders here want a spot,” noted the 22-year-old, who represented Slovakia at the World Championships back in May. “I try and control what I can control. But competition is a good thing. It pushes us to give more.”
For head coach Guy Carbonneau, the 16 NHL games Halak played last season are an undisputable advantage.
“On our evaluation list, Huet is first because of his experience,” admitted Carbonneau. “Same goes for Halak. He was the top goaltender in the AHL when he was called up and you can see that he has more confidence.”
Thanks to the strong outings by Plekanec, D’Agostini, Kovalev and Halak, Team B won both of its games, beating Team C 4-1 and shutting out Team A 3-0.
With just one day left before the first cuts are handed down, Carbonneau had a message for the youngsters at training camp.
“Each day, the gap between the players narrows,” he said. “If some veterans aren’t pushing as hard, I’m not worried. It’s up to the young guys to push ahead and steal a spot.”
Here are the lineups for the three teams formed at training camp:
Team A: Cristobal Huet, Loïc Lacasse, Andrew Loverock, Andrei Markov
, Ryan O’Byrne, Jamie Rivers, Mike Komisarek, Pavel Valentenko, Jon Gleed, Mathieu Labrie, Guillaume Latendresse, Bryan Smolinski, Andrei Kostitsyn, Gregory Stewart, Kyle Chipchura, Tom Kostopoulos, Ryan White
, A.J. Baines, Duncan Milroy, David Desharnais
, Mathieu Aubin,
Team B: Jaroslav Halak, Cédrik Desjardins, Roman Hamrlik, Andrew Archer, Josh Gorges
, Cameron Cepek, Marvin Degon, Mathieu Dandenault, Yannick Weber
, Janne Lahti, Tomas Plekanec
, Matt D’Agostini, Steve Begin, Mikhail Grabovski, Alex Kovalev, Jimmy Bonneau, Corey Locke, Francis Lemieux, Olivier Fortier
Team C: Carey Price
, Yann Danis, Francis Bouillon, Mathieu Biron, Mark Streit, Mathieu Carle, Jean-Philippe Côté, P.K. Subban
, Sébastien Piché, Sergei Kostitsyn, Saku Koivu, Michael Ryder, Garth Murray, Maxim Lapierre, Jonathan Ferland, Eric Manlow, Benjamin Maxwell, Thomas Beauregard, Ryan Russell, Cory Urquhart.
Félix-Antoine Viens is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Heather Engel.