COLLINGWOOD – Another day of team building for the Habs saw Travis Moen making a push to play in Thursday’s season-opener.
Moen on the cusp: With anticipation for the Canadiens season-opener on the rise, and the puck drop at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre only two days away, Travis Moen is hard at work doing all he can to make sure he’s in on the action. After sitting on the shelf with a lower-body injury sustained in the Habs’ Sept. 24 match-up with the Sens, the rugged forward still has two practice sessions left to make his final push.
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“I’m not green lit yet, but I felt pretty good today so I’ll just have to wait and see how I feel tomorrow,” explained No.32 before going on to discuss the process of getting to know new linemates Andreas Engqvist and Yannick Weber. “Today was the first day I was with them, but obviously Engqvist is a good skater and player and Webby’s got a great shot, so I’m going to go out there and try and get in better shape tomorrow and hopefully play with those guys on Thursday.”
“It’s kind of funny. You’re away from the guys for about six days and when I got hurt we were all still split on three different teams, so I’m still trying to get to know some of the guys,” he added. “But it felt good to get in on the skate today and pass around with them.”
Leaps and bounds: Since making the leap from European to North America hockey a few weeks ago, Raphael Diaz has continued to impress with his solid style of play. Jaroslav Spacek in particular, well aware of the challenges the continental jump poses for a young player, had high praise for the Habs prospect.
“We’ve played two games together now and we’ve been practicing together too. He’s a very talented player with a lot of skill. He can skate well, hit well, he’s got a good shot and great vision on the ice,” said Spacek of his new defensive partner.
“I’d say he’s more ready to play in the NHL now than I was when I first arrived in North America,” expressed Spacek, who himself made the jump to NHL hockey at the age of 24 after playing professionally in Europe for six years. “The game has changed a lot over the last 13 years. Nowadays you need to be a really strong skater, and that’s exactly what he is.”
Straight Shooter: A criticism Scott Gomez spent much of last season dealing with was that he didn’t take enough shots on goal. If the preseason is any indication, that complaint is likely one Gomez won’t hear again. The Habs center finished the preseason with the second highest shot total on the team, tied with Michael Cammalleri at 16, a fact that hadn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates.
“The one thing that I see most is that, while he’s always been confident, he’s become confident now in different aspects of the game,” began Max Pacioretty, who led the Canadiens with 22 preseason shots. “He’s shooting the puck a lot and it’s good to see because he’s got a great shot. He put the puck in the back of the net a couple of times here in preseason, and it’s not just by luck, he worked on his game a lot over the summer. We’ve had great chemistry last year and throughout the preseason, so hopefully we can keep it up for the full year.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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