Habs notebook - Feb. 9, 2010
The Czar comes to town
The Canadiens welcome the NHL’s hottest team to town on Wednesday, but don’t expect the Habs to be gracious hosts to the league’s leading scorer. Riding a 14-game win streak into the Bell Centre, Alex Ovechkin will be looking to put some of his trademark offense on display, but Jacques Martin has a different plan in mind for Ovi and Co.
“When you play against a player like Ovechkin, the responsibility doesn’t just rest on the shoulders of the defensemen,” explained the Habs’ head coach. “The forwards need to be backchecking and putting on that pressure from behind and they can’t be getting caught out of position or being too puck focused. We’ll need to roll up our sleeves and work as a team.”
“He’s always dominant and he’s always a threat anytime you play him,” added Habs sniper Brian Gionta. “Whether he’s wearing the ‘C’ or not, he’s going to be playing with the same level of intensity and he’s going to be working just as hard. If we look at the last time we kept him in check, it was because everyone was working hard and we were on the same page. He’s got a lot of speed and we’ll absolutely have to slow him down if we want to win. A solid forecheck will definitely help us tomorrow.”
On pins and needles
A day after the Canadiens saw a changing of the guard in the GM chair on Monday, talk turned to other potential moves coming down the road. With the league set to suspend play this Friday for the Olympic break and no trades or moves allowed to be made after that point, teams across the NHL are preparing for the pre-trade deadline deadline. Once the last of the gold medals are handed out, it’s back to work for the league’s GMs, who have until March 3 to shore up their rosters heading into the playoffs. Josh Gorges weighed in on how the Habs are planning to follow the moves happening around the league.
“When you play in Montreal and the trade deadline approaches, you need to have a thick skin with all of the information coming at you,” admitted the young blue-liner, who came to Montreal as part of a deal with the San Jose Sharks in 2007. “For sure you’re going to hear your name floating around and the names of some of your teammates. That’s part of playing at this time of the year. Every morning when you wake up, you can’t be thinking about that – it’s not something we can control so we just have to concentrate on working hard at the task at hand.”
Happy Olympics Eve!
A sign that the Olympics are just around the corner, the Canadiens players who have been selected to represent their respective countries were already getting into the spirit, donning their home colors during Tuesday’s practice. Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec stayed within the Habs’ color scheme, respectively decked out in Russian/Czech variations of the bleu-blanc-rouge, while Sergei Kostitsyn stuck out a little more with his red and green Belarusian gear. There may only be four days to go until the opening ceremonies kick off in Vancouver, but Pleky still wasn’t about to start looking ahead just yet.
“I haven’t really had a chance to think about the Olympics yet. I’ve done a few interviews for the Czech Republic media, but for now I’m trying to focus on the three games we have left before the break,” offered the Kladno native. “I’m wearing my gloves because I’m just trying to break them in over a few practices. Once we get to Vancouver, we’ll only have one practice before we play our first game so I’m trying to take a little time to make sure it’s an easy adjustment when I’m there.”
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.
Over to you, Pierre
“I will be a Canadien forever” – Bob Gainey
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Pierre Gauthier named General Manager
Habs this week – February 8, 2010