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Parenteau gets chance to shine with Canadiens

by Arpon Basu / NHL.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- When Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau looked at his linemates during the first on-ice day of his first training camp with his hometown Montreal Canadiens, he had a slight case of déjà vu.

Parenteau was lined up alongside Montreal's top offensive pairing, with David Desharnais at center and Max Pacioretty on left wing, during the Canadiens' scrimmage Friday.

Desharnais and Pacioretty have been linemates essentially their entire professional careers; they played together with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League in 2010-11 and have stayed together off and on ever since.

It's not the first time in Parenteau's career that he's been asked to try and complement a well-established pairing.

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When he joined the New York Islanders in 2010-11, Parenteau was placed on a line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson, who had spent the previous season together as linemates. In that instance Parenteau was a perfect third wheel and helped turn the line into one of the best in the NHL for the next two seasons.

He's hopeful the same thing happens in Montreal.

"I can definitely see some similarities, there's no doubt about that," Parenteau said. "Those two guys are used to playing with each other. I'm coming in and I can only hope to help them and make the line better. I don't know if I'll play with them, I don't know what the plan is, but if that's what happens that will be my goal. I think it could happen."

Parenteau, acquired by the Canadiens from the Colorado Avalanche in June in exchange for Daniel Briere, is the second straight right wing to get an audition next to Desharnais and Pacioretty in training camp. Last season Briere began camp in that spot before Brendan Gallagher ultimately claimed it.

In an ideal world Canadiens coach Michel Therrien would like to use Gallagher on another line in order to spread the wealth among his forwards. That's why Parenteau is getting a chance to ride shotgun on a unit Therrien leans on to create offense, often sending Desharnais and Pacioretty for offensive-zone faceoffs.

"A lot of credit to him the way he reported to camp, and we saw it in the testing," Therrien said of Parenteau. "So we know he worked really hard over the summer, and that's one thing when me and [general manager] Marc Bergevin, we talked to him, we wanted to make sure he reports in great shape. This is what he did.

"He's going to have an opportunity and it's going to be up to him to take it."

Parenteau is coming off an injury-marred season in Colorado during which he never was able to secure a consistent spot in coach Patrick Roy's lineup. According to stats.hockeyanalysis.com, Parenteau played 754 minutes at 5-on-5 with the Avalanche last season, but no forward on the team played more than 300 of those minutes with him, showing to what extent he bounced from line to line.

If Parenteau can stick with Desharnais and Pacioretty, he won't need to go through that again this season.

"Last year was a tough season with injuries, and when I came back from the injuries I lost my place in the lineup," Parenteau said. "Those things happen. But this is a new start for me here. I've turned the page and I'm excited to start camp and the season here."

The line performed well Friday, albeit in an intrasquad scrimmage.

Parenteau and Desharnais are pass-first players and Pacioretty is the ultimate triggerman with one of the best shots in the NHL. Parenteau said it did not take him long to learn how his two linemates worked, and he liked what he saw.

"It's not complicated with those two; they're easy to read on the ice," he said. "[Pacioretty] is a straight-line player and he shoots the puck, so it's easy. He's a great shooter. Dave, when he has the puck, you have to try and get open, and vice versa with me.

"I don't think it would take us very long to create something special."

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