BROSSARD – With many lessons learned in the wake of a 4-3 loss at the hands of the Oilers on Tuesday night, the Canadiens headed back onto the ice with a purpose on Wednesday.
The team’s veterans led by example, as goaltender Carey Price was first on the ice to work on the finer points of his game with goalie coach Stephane Waite. After practice, Josh Gorges had a few words to say regarding the game in which the Habs led 2-0 before giving up four consecutive goals.
“It’s a matter of respecting the game, the process,” stated the Canadiens’ assistant captain. “We have to learn from the mistakes we made [against the Oilers]. We got off to a good start and grabbed the early lead because we played the right way.”
One player who did the small things right against Edmonton was centerman Ryan White. The rugged pivot was entrusted by head coach Michel Therrien to take a number of defensive zone faceoffs against the offensively-gifted Oilers, responding to the added responsibility in a big way. The Brandon, MB native was a perfect 7-for-7 on defensive zone draws, while also coming out on top in 10 of 12 faceoffs overall. For White, there is no secret when it comes to being successful at this level.
“[The key] is just competing and trying to get in there. I had coaches in Junior hockey like Dave Lowry, Joel Otto and Kelly Kisio who were all NHL centermen,” acknowledged White, who is quick to give credit to some of the mentors who helped shape his game before he was drafted 66th overall by the Canadiens in 2006. “In the minors, we worked on draws in every practice, and I learn a lot from the guys here. [Tomas] Plekanec does a lot of things right on the faceoff, things that I can’t do. It’s easy to pick up on what the top guys on other teams are doing if our guys are doing the same thing.”
White realizes, however, that one good night in the faceoff circle doesn’t mean much unless you are committed to getting better on a continual basis.
“I’ve had some good runs and some awful nights too,” noted White. “You just try to learn from the nights where you’re off. It’s the little things that you nitpick and try to improve.”
Another player cognizant of the need for continual improvement is rookie blue-liner Nathan Beaulieu. Earlier in the day, he learned that fellow rearguard Jarred Tinordi, with whom he had been alternating starts on a duo with veteran Francis Bouillon, had been assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs. This was the opportunity that the youngster, who missed most of training camp with a shoulder injury, was waiting for.
“It’s always disappointing when you get sent down, but the coaching staff always has a conversation with you to explain what their expectations are. It’s a process. You have to go through it. It takes maturity, but eventually you’ll get your chance,” stated the Canadiens’ first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. “I was injured during training camp, which didn’t help matters, but now, after getting more games in, I feel like I am starting to play my style of game.”
As Therrien explained after practice, Tinordi’s demotion to the AHL is not about poor play, but rather an opportunity for the 21-year-old to get some reps in on a team that could benefit from his skill set.
“In Tinordi’s case, we want him to play. The Bulldogs play three games over the weekend, and that’s a great opportunity for him. You can’t forget that young players are still in development. Even if you’ve competed at the NHL level, you still need to play,” explained the Habs’ bench boss.
Instead of playing less than 15 minutes every other game in Montreal, Tinordi will be counted on to play big minutes for the Bulldogs. Those minutes will surely help him develop his game for another call-up down the road.
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
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