Taking flight

Saturday, 21.09.2013 / 12:22 AM canadiens.com

QUEBEC CITY – Forcing a coach’s hand is what every prospect hopes to do entering training camp. Left winger Michaël Bournival is trying to make that happen.

Tallying his third goal of the preseason in the Canadiens’ 6-0 victory over the Hurricanes on Friday night at the Colisée Pepsi, the 21-year-old Shawinigan, QC native continued to make a case for extending his stay in Montreal for the immediate future. Playing alongside prospects Michael McCarron and Patrick Holland in his second preseason game of the 2013-14 campaign, Bournival, who also registered an assist and led the Canadiens with four shots on goal, demonstrated that he’s growing more accustomed to playing at the highest level.

“I had a good game. I played with intensity. I used my speed and my forecheck to create things out there,” affirmed Bournival, who helped the Habs collect their first preseason win after coming up short against both the Sabres and the Bruins. “During the first game [last Sunday against Buffalo], I was definitely a little bit nervous, but as things go on, I’m feeling more and more comfortable on the ice.”

Bournival, however, isn’t willing to rest on his laurels. The former Shawinigan Cataractes captain is hoping that his performances thus far and his work ethic in practice will earn him a spot in the lineup in as many of the Canadiens’ four remaining preseason tilts as possible.

“I think I’ve shown some good things out there, and it’s up to me to keep it going,” affirmed the former third-round selection of the Avalanche in 2010, who also scored two goals against the Sabres in the Habs' preseason opener. “I’m going day by day. I’ve said it since the start of camp and that’s how things go. I need to be good every day. I’m working on things that I need to improve and what I do well. I want to put that same effort forward for the upcoming games.”

Head coach Michel Therrien is certainly taking notice of what Bournival has brought to the table.

“Again [on Friday night], for the second game in a row [he’s been in the lineup], he’s done well,” confirmed Therrien, praising Bournival’s relentlessness. “He provokes a lot of things with his speed and his intensity on the puck. That’s what I really like from him.”

While prospects like Bournival continued to impress the Habs bench boss against the Hurricanes, Therrien believes a core group of veterans heeding his call to up the energy in their game was ultimately what paced the Canadiens to victory against Carolina.

“The thing I really took away from this game was the fact that the veterans really set the tone. That’s a good sign. That’s something we talked about with the guys before playing the game. We wanted our veterans to show the way,” offered Therrien, who also saw Greg Pateryn, David Desharnais, P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk score on Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward, while Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski combined for the shutout. “The veterans dictated the game [and] the way we got the lead, we could tell we were starting to play with a lot of confidence with the young kids [in the lineup].”

Pateryn, who scored what proved to be the game-winner early in the first period, is among those young guns earning the respect of his peers with each passing shift. Like Bournival, the 23-year-old is doing his best to garner attention.

“Being [one of the] young guys here, I think that’s our mindset [as rookies] through camp. We’re just coming here to prove ourselves. We’re trying to do whatever we can. I think that’s the best way to do it,” noted the Sterling Heights, MI native, who made his second appearance of the preseason for the bleu-blanc-rouge after racking up three assists against the Sabres. “I’m taking it one day at a time and [I’ll let] everything fall into place.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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