Good morning Quebec
The visiting team: No stranger to playing in Quebec City, Michael Cammalleri -- along with the rest of the Habs -- gets set to lace up for the team’s third preseason game in as many years at the Colisée Pepsi. While the chance to play in the province’s capital will always be special for the Canadiens’ sniper, Cammalleri has also been noticing a shift in tone among fans over the past few visits.
“This building is a great place to play and it’s always special because in the end, this was the home of the Nordiques and you never know what can happen in the future,” mentioned Cammalleri, who picked up on a handful of boos mixed in with the cheers when the Habs took the ice for practice.
“You can tell it’s not all our fans out there. Last year when we played here I don’t think there was as much hope that the Nordiques would be coming back, so everyone was a Habs fan,” he added. “Now it feels like there’s more hope that could happen so it seems like there are a few less Habs fans in the stands.”
Risks worth taking: Sitting in his stall following the Canadiens Saturday morning skate in Quebec, Habs veteran Hal Gill, took a moment to talk about how for him, the preseason comes down to pushing the envelope – first as an player, then as a group.
“Now’s the time to try things and make mistakes. As a team, you just try and figure out what’s going to work for you as far as player combinations, but individually, I’m trying to get my speed up, so this is the time for me to take some risks and really test myself,” expressed Gill, who will get that chance when the Habs assemble their most complete roster to date to face the Lightning at 7:00 p.m.
“You might get beat sometimes, but you almost want that because it lets you know where you stand. It’s better than sitting back and playing it safe, and then when you get into the regular season, you find yourself hesitating. Camp starts out about pushing yourself as an individual and ends with you pushing yourself as a team.”
The A-Team: During last year’s outing to Quebec, Jacques Martin and the Habs faced off against an Islanders squad still packed with prospects, handing them a 7-2 loss. Saturday night should prove more challenging, as Guy Boucher and the Lightning bring a veteran-heavy lineup to the table.
“Tampa will be playing with almost a complete NHL roster and that should be a good challenge for us. It’s up to us to raise our compete level and give the puck-carrier the best support possible. We’re looking for better execution as a group,” explained Martin before adding that he should soon be able to add Travis Moen to his list of available players.
“We’d like to see Travis join the team for Monday’s practice in Collingwood. He’s the type of player that can bring a physical edge to our lineup. We’re hoping he can be ready for our first game of the season in Toronto.”
Lines at practice:
Gionta - Gomez - Pacioretty
Darche - Desharnais - Cole
Cammalleri - Plekanec - Kostitsyn
Weber - Engqvist - Palushaj
Gorges - Campoli
Diaz - Spacek
Gill - Subban
Woywitka - Yemelin
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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