While Habs head coach Jacques Martin will make use of his team’s first preseason outing to evaluate a handful of rookies currently on the cusp, he’ll also get the chance to test drive what could very well be his No. 1 line of 2011-12.
“It’s obviously a bit of a work in progress,” said newcomer Erik Cole, who will flank Michael Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec on the top line against the Stars. “We’re trying to talk to each other as much as we can about our tendencies and what guys are seeing out there and where we expect to be. Hopefully figuring out things like that will help us out."
“This is an arena that breeds emotion and atmosphere, so the preseason games here should help me get my bearings," added the Habs’ No. 72. "There are going to be some bumps in the road, but it’s all about playing hard, getting past those and getting ready for opening night.”
A few stalls down, Cammalleri was also weighing in on the new trio’s potential as he prepared for his third season as a member of the Canadiens.
“I think the message is obvious. The coach seems to want to try us together and see how it goes, and for us, I’m sure we’d all be happy with that combination. It’s really on us now to go out there and make it work,” expressed Cammalleri, before adding a few words on Cole’s transition to the team.
“He’s a veteran player and a guy who plays a style of hockey that can be relied on. He’s fast, powerful and hard on the forecheck. The chemistry between us all is good. It’s been fun getting to know him both on and off the ice, and we’re looking forward to tonight.”
Another person who will be keeping an eye on how the line develops is Martin, who has had the three star forwards penciled in alongside each other since training camp opened.
“It gives us a first chance to watch these three players together,” explained Martin. “We still have a while to decide if they’re going to make up a unit on a regular basis, but tonight should give us a good idea of the kind of chemistry that might be possible.”
With six games in seven nights, Martin will have the chance to try as many line combinations as he wants, but for now the line of Cammalleri, Plekanec and Cole could give the Bell Centre crowd a taste of what’s in store for the regular season.
Lines at practice :
Cole – Plekanec – Cammalleri
Palushaj – Willsie – Kostitsyn
Blunden – Trotter – Engqvist
Schultz – Massé – Berger
Yemelin – Woywitka
Gill – Diaz
Weber – Tinordi
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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