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When Nash woke up in Hamilton on Tuesday morning, he was mentally preparing to play his 51st career AHL game the next night. A call from Montreal had him changing his plans in a hurry.
“I found out [about getting called up] this morning right before practice. Coach pulled me in and told me and I was just in shock in the beginning,” admitted the grinning 23-year-old, who played 11:53 in his NHL debut against the Sabres. “I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. Then I had to rush home, pack and hit the airport as fast as I could so I could get here this afternoon to make sure I’d get the opportunity to play.”
| Nash's post-game comments
“Absolutely I was nervous. It’s the NHL; I think everyone in their first game is a little bit nervous but all the guys were great,” he shared. “Everyone tried to help me out and calm me down because they’ve all been there before. As the game went on, I got more comfortable and I was able to get my feet underneath me.
“There are a couple of guys I’ve played with before which helped a lot,” added Nash, who played with Max Pacioretty, Yannick Weber, David Desharnais and Ryan White in Hamilton this season. “The guys told me just to enjoy it. A lot of them were calming me down and just telling me to do what I do and that I’m here for a reason. They said just keep it simple and do what you do best.”
For Nash, doing what he does best usually means sacrificing his body. With four blocked shots and a hit to show for his night’s work, the Kamloops, BC native looked right at home in Montreal.
“It’s a faster game up here and everyone is bigger and stronger so you have to try to elevate your games as much as you can,” explained the 6-foot-3 defenseman. “With it comes more physicality and I think I was able to do alright out there.”
Although Nash will have to wait and see the status of injured veterans Hal Gill and Jaroslav Spacek to see if he’ll be making his second career NHL start in Edmonton on Thursday night, he’s more than happy to bask in the excitement of his first a little while longer.
“I was surprised; you always are. You don’t expect it. I was expecting just to practice and head with the team to Grand Rapids, but it was a tremendous surprise and I couldn’t be happier,” he revealed. “It was really fun out there. It sucks that we lost, but overall, playing in the NHL has always been the dream and it was a great experience.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Sabres 3, Canadiens 2, SO
The Numbers Game - Feb. 15, 2011
Habs call up Brendon Nash
Postgame comments: Martin | Gionta | Desharnais | Nash