MONTREAL – Often, the best thing a player can do to put a season in their rearview mirror is to start looking ahead to the next one.
Despite the Canadiens’ 2012-13 march to a northeast division title, not every player on the team’s roster had an easy time finding their rhythm after the NHL lockout came to an end in January. On pace for a career-year production-wise in his previous campaign, Travis Moen was instead forced to miss 34 games in the latter half of the season with an upper-body injury. While Moen returned this year as much a physical presence as ever for the Habs, he never managed to recapture the scoring touch that saw him log nine goals and seven assists in 48 games in 2011-12.
After being signed to a four-year contract extension by new GM Marc Bergevin before the start of the season, Moen wound up relegated to a fourth-line role on Michel Therrien’s team, playing the majority of his shifts alongside Ryan White and Colby Armstrong. With three years remaining on his current deal with the bleu-blanc-rouge, Moen’s goal will be to ramp his physical game up to another level in 2013-14, while continuing to pitch in points whenever possible.
“I think I need to be playing with a little more of an edge,” admitted the gritty 31-year-old forward, who finished the season with two goals and six points. “I spoke with the coach and he wants me to be more intense, so that’s something that I’m aiming to do moving on forward.
“I try to play a physical game; to go out there every shift and play my style,” he added. “Obviously the coach feels like I can do more and that’s what I’m going to do.”
While Moen will be looking to raise his compete level when the puck drops on the Canadiens’ upcoming season, he’ll be doing so with a solid base to build on. With 82 hits in 45 games this year, the Stewart Valley, SK native eclipsed his output of 75 in 48 games the year before. Logging 101:11 of shorthanded ice time, Moen also led all Habs forwards in penalty kill minutes, and his four fighting majors ranked second on the team behind only Brandon Prust.
“Whatever situation I’m in, I try to go out there and play my hardest. That’s what I try to focus on,” said Moen, who dropped the gloves with Chris Thornburn, B.J. Crombeen, Gregory Campbell and Wayne Simmonds this season. “Fighting is always a part of my game. It’s what got me into the league and it’s not something I shy away from.”
With his season behind him and an ever-evolving Montreal squad ready to elevate their game even higher next year, Moen already has his sights set squarely on his future with the team, ready to make the most of the remainder of his contract.
“I want to be playing and helping the team win,” he concluded. “But I’ve got to be better so that I can prove myself again.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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