Call-ups pack a punch
Reinforcements: With Travis Moen shelved with an upper body injury, the Canadiens roster had an opening for a player that could bring a physical presence to the squad. Enter Ian Schultz. After a recent marathon of games with the Bulldogs, Schultz was tapped by the Habs for the first time this season, making the trip up to Montreal in the company of Ryan White.
“I think I definitely bring a physical aspect when I play. I’m not scared to finish my checks, battle in the corners, and I don't back down to anybody,” dropped the 22-year-old who already has nine fights on his AHL rap sheet this season. “I just want to play hockey. It’s not my goal to only be seen as a tough guy who’s always fighting because he loves to fight. My goal is to play my style of game.”
| Ian Schultz on joining the Canadiens
Looking to make the most of his first-ever call up to the big show, Schultz can already feel the butterflies in his stomach starting to flap their wings – even if the head coach still hasn’t told him if he’ll be in Monday night’s lineup.
“Right now, I’m definitely nervous. But I know that as the game gets nearer and I get into my pre-game routine I'll probably start calming down,” he added, also acknowledging the support he’s been getting from his brother, Washington Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz. “He sent me a text message yesterday to congratulate me. I think he’s pretty excited for me.”
Hurricane Muller: Gunning for their fifth-straight win, the Canadiens welcome Kirk Muller and the Carolina Hurricanes back to the Bell Centre Monday night. The game will mark Muller’s first appearance in Montreal since taking over as the ‘Canes bench boss earlier in the season. While both teams have seen similar situations evolve behind the bench in 2011-12, the Habs, under Randy Cunneyworth, have turned a corner of late and will look to extend their Eastern Conference best four-game win streak against Muller and his 15th place Hurricanes.
“I think that first of all, he was put in a really tough situation,” expressed Lars Eller of Muller's first term as a head coach in the NHL. “The team wasn’t doing well at the time and he had to come in and take over mid-season so that’s not an easy thing to do. But he’s been doing well considering, and I’m happy for him that he got the job he was looking for.”
“Randy and Kirk are definitely different personalities,” continued Eller, who had the chance to play under each coach in his first two seasons with the Canadiens. “I think Kirk can be a bit more aggressive or vocal, but they’re both very positive people, both great at communication and talking with their players and they’re both really well liked among all the guys. There’s a lot of similarities there, but a lot of differences too.”
White finally ready: Wrapping up his conditioning stint in Hamilton with three games in three nights as a member of the Bulldogs, Ryan White was back in Montreal, rehabbed and ready to go. In his four outings with the Bulldogs the gritty forward posted four goals and an assist, proving that after a long season of waiting he’s finally back where he needs to be to hit the ice with the Habs for his first game of 2011-12.
“I feel good, I feel ready. It did me well to be able to go down there and work on getting my timing back. If not, I think I would have seemed a lot like a fish out of water in my first game here,” confessed White. “I needed that time to fine tune things for myself in the AHL.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.