BROSSARD – There were several storylines playing out during the first intra-squad scrimmage at the Canadiens’ training camp.
During the first period, which ended in a 2-2 draw between Team White and Team Red, Ryan White was accidentally clipped in the forehead by Brandon Prust’s stick. The impact left a sizable gash and White left the ice, not to return. A few shifts later, Nathan Beaulieu went into the boards hard, shoulder-first, after getting tangled up with Charles Hudon while chasing a loose puck. He too missed the remainder of the match.
Taking to the ice in a game situation for the first time this training camp, Carey Price not only had to worry about stopping opposing forwards, but also about NHL-mandated changes in the dimensions of goalie pads and the size of the goals.
“[In terms of having shallower goals, which leave more space behind the net,] I think it’s good for the sport. The guys will be able to make better passes from behind the net and be able to make quicker wrap-arounds. There will be an adjustment period for sure; I’ll definitely need to go post-to-post more quickly on those wrap-arounds,” Price stated.
“[As for the new pads,] I feel good with them. No complaints so far,” added the 26-year-old netminder, who also declared the leg injury he suffered in the playoffs last year to be 100% healed. “No problem with the knee, everything is cool.”
Speaking of injuries, several players were notably absent from Thursday’s scrimmage, including enforcer George Parros, who is close to returning from a shoulder injury sustained after hitting the ice awkwardly following a fight last season as a member of the Florida Panthers. He participated in the pre-game skate and took part in team training sessions, but did not suit up for the scrimmage.
“[When I return] will depend on the doctor’s opinion. I don’t want to push it too soon, even if, as a player, it’s hard to [hold yourself back],” he explained. “It’s never fun to start out with a team while injured; it happened to me a few years back in Colorado. But it’s just part of the game.”
When asked about his outlook on whether or not he’ll be in a Habs uniform on opening day, Parros preferred to defer to the team’s experts.
“I’m not Dr. Parros,” he joked.
Another player not on the ice for the first on-ice session was Alexei Emelin, who is expected to miss the first part of the season while rehabbing from knee surgery. His regular defense partner Andrei Markov spoke about adjusting to playing without his compatriot by his side.
“It’ll be a long season. No matter who you are paired with, you need to do your job and do your best for the team. Don’t forget that we are a unit of five players on the ice. We’ll need to work together, both offensively and defensively,” Markov stated.
As a 2013 draft pick attending his inaugural NHL camp, Michael McCarron couldn’t be blamed if he showed up a little shell-shocked. However, the six-foot-five winger turned some heads on Thursday, driving hard to the net with the puck on a couple of occasions and mixing it up in the corners with veteran tough guy Nick Tarnasky, no small fry himself at six-foot-two, 230 pounds.
“Actually, I wasn’t too surprised to see this many people here today,” McCarron said regarding the large fan turnout at the first scrimmage. “I expected it after being here for the rookie camp and seeing the number of people in the stands. It’s awesome!”
McCarron also took the time to show off the rubber bracelets he wears around his wrists in homage of certain people in his life.
“[The green one] is for a London player who was drafted but passed away in a car accident last year,” shared McCarron. “[The tricolour bracelet] represents the colors of the United States, as I played for the national program last season. The red bracelet was given to me by the coach of Western Michigan University, whose son is suffering from muscular dystrophy. His motto is ‘no bad days’. It reminds me that everyday is a good day [to be in Montreal playing hockey].”