BROSSARD – Headed into the fifth preseason game of the year, only one Canadiens player has been in the lineup for every single contest: Jarred Tinordi.
The towering rearguard, a core member of the Hamilton Bulldogs and an occasional Hab last season, has more than lived up to head coach Michel Therrien’s expectations so far.
“We saw that as camp wore on, [Tinordi] has become more and more physical in his play, and that’s something we asked of him last year. He is playing with confidence; we’re satisfied,” offered Therrien.
While typically playing alongside veteran Francis Bouillon, Tinordi has shown poise beyond his years on defense, and has provided the bleu-blanc-rouge with important physicality in the absence of Douglas Murray and Alexei Emelin.
“I had a day off [on Sunday], which was good,” said Tinordi, who has been as busy as any other player in the league since the start of preseason. “[Monday’s match against the Devils] is the type of game I’m happy to get into. The regular season is closing in fast and I know the coaches will be trying to establish chemistry throughout the lineup. I want to continue to get better, work within the system and show that I belong.”
Another young gun who is making a serious push for a full-time position with the Habs is forward Michael Bournival. The Shawinigan, QC native is the NHL’s preseason scoring leader with four goals in three games. He’s also shown speed, skill and grit playing on defensively-minded lines, the same type of role he’ll mostly likely be called upon to play if he sticks around for the start of the regular season. No matter what happens, though, Bournival is thankful for the opportunity he’s been given in Montreal.
“I’m still a young player. I have lots to learn and I find something new to work on every day. The advice that the coaching staff and the older players are giving me is really helpful, and I appreciate that a lot,” confirmed Bournival.
Though Bournival was only informed of his participation in Monday night’s game this morning, he already has a good idea of what he wants to accomplish against New Jersey.
“As an energy player, I know what I can bring to the game. I need to be intense along the boards, win my battles and get the puck out of my zone. These little details are going to be really important for me,” noted Bournival.
One change he can expect during the tilt with the Devils will be a switch to the center position. Having seen Bournival thrive as a left winger in his three preseason game appearances for the Canadiens, Therrien wants to put the young sniper into a different role in order to gauge his reaction.
“So far, [Bournival] has done lots of good things. Last year, he played mostly on left wing, but we know that he’s also capable of playing center, so [on Monday night] we’re going to see how he can adapt. So far he’s been good, so we will see,” mentioned Therrien.
Despite already conducting another round of cuts on Sunday that claimed Michael McCarron, Sebastian Collberg and Dustin Tokarki, the Habs’ brass will still have several tough decisions to make regarding player personnel.
Bournival and Tinordi are up against plenty of established veteran players in their efforts to earn roster spots, but Josh Gorges, one of the team’s longest-serving players, has been impressed by their effort level so far.
“[Tinordi] has been fantastic throughout camp. Each game, it seems that he’s gotten a bit faster, a bit stronger and a bit more comfortable on the ice. He is playing excellent hockey. I’ve always been a fan of the way he plays and I think he’ll make the coaches’ jobs really difficult if he keeps this up,” acknowledged the Kelowna, BC native.
Gorges also had a few things to say about Bournival’s level of play.
“He has been phenomenal. The fact that he’s scoring goals is a reflection of how hard he’s worked. When you pay attention to what he’s doing, you can understand how he’s in this position and that he really deserves to be there,” praised Gorges. “He’s shown that he can play at this level. No matter what role he is given, he’s taken full advantage of the opportunity.”
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
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