Changing of the guard

Thursday, 08.12.2011 / 1:03 PM / News
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Changing of the guard


BROSSARD – The Habs blue line will see a change against the Canucks, as Frederic St-Denis steps in for Yannick Weber.

Grasshopper: Habs fans can expect to see Frederic St-Denis back in the lineup Thursday night. As many of the Canadiens’ less-experienced D-men often find themselves doing, St-Denis will be skating alongside Hal Gill for his eighth game in the NHL. With Gill boasting over than 1,000 more games in the league than St-Denis, the rookie rearguard knows exactly where to go for advice.

“Hal’s a really enthusiastic guy to be out on the ice with. Every game, he talks a lot, communicates well and really helps me out on the ice. Having a veteran of his caliber next to me for the course of a game is a huge plus for me,” mentioned St-Denis, who will be taking over Yannick Weber’s spot on the blue line when the Habs face the Canucks. “Whoever you’re paired with is the guy you always end up passing the puck with the most and the guy you communicate the most with, so it’s important to have good chemistry. It’s important for me to talk to Hal as much as I can before and after the game and between periods.” 

The Habs face the Canucks Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

Cole’s notes: Figuring out what went wrong in a loss can often be more important than taking note of what went right in a win. As Erik Cole pointed out Thursday morning, the Habs already know what parts of their game need to be tweaked to find success – now it’s just a matter going out and making it happen.

“Lots of times we’re always discussing the same things after a loss. It’s puck management, it’s – in some areas of the ice – our compete level, it’s the amount of traffic we’re putting in front of the other goalies,” mentioned Cole. “It's really a lot of details, but when we’re not playing as well as we could be, those are usually the glaring points.

“Everyone was well aware the Canucks got off to a slower start than they would have liked to,” added Cole on the Vancouver squad’s recent resurgence. “But they’ve been playing a much better game over the last several weeks. Regardless of how a team’s playing or what their record is, we have to come in ready for a battle. We just have to worry about our own game.”

Twin watch: When you’re getting ready to take on a team like the Vancouver Canucks, it’s important to have a solid game plan. Jacques Martin made that clear to his troops at their Thursday morning skate, going out of his way to zero in on a few targets the team will need to keep an eye on if they hope to walk away with two points.

“Against a team like the Canucks, we have to make sure that we play as a unit. Right now they have the third best offense in the league, not to mention the top power play,” pointed out Martin, whose team beat Vancouver in both of their meetings last season. “They’re an extremely well-rounded team. Our challenge tonight will be to try and neutralize the Sedin twins and the Kessler line. We have to focus on having both a strong forecheck and a strong backcheck if we want to be effective.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.

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