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|Habs' Gonchar becomes like a big brother for new defence partner Beaulieu
28 äåêàáðÿ 2014 ãîäà. Montreal Gazette. By Pat Hickey.
Sergei Gonchar says he’s ready to play a role in the development of his new defence partner, Nathan Beaulieu.
“I don’t know if big brother is the right word, but he’s my teammate and I’ll try to help him,” said Gonchar, who will be paired with Beaulieu when the Canadiens play the Carolina Hurricanes Monday night (7 p.m., SNE, RDS, TSN Radio 690). “I have more experience than him and I’ll try to share it with him.”
To say Gonchar has more experience is an understatement. The 40-year-old Russian has played 1,275 NHL games, while Beaulieu — who celebrated his 22nd birthday this month — has played 43 games.
“He’s a good skater and he’s got a good shot,” Gonchar said when asked for his assessment of Beaulieu. “When you’re younger, sometimes you’re out of position once in while. It’s one of those things you have to pay attention to when you’re younger. You learn with experience, but I’ll try to cut that shorter by explaining things to him. We’re trying to communicate, not only on the ice but on the bench between shifts.”
Coach Michel Therrien said Beaulieu has earned the spot on the No. 2 pairing.
“It always goes with performance and I really like the way Beaulieu has played since he came back from Hamilton,” Therrien said. “He’s engaged in the play. He skates well and he’s making good decisions. He’s more solid than he was defensively. Playing with Gonchar will help him immediately, but also for the long term.”
Gonchar, who was obtained from Dallas in a trade for Travis Moen on Nov. 11, has impressed Therrien with his conditioning.
“I’m really impressed with the way Gonchar has performed,” said Therrien, who previously coached Gonchar in Pittsburgh. “I knew the person and he always takes care that he’s in good shape. At 40 years old, you have to do more. He’s got a great attitude and I think Beaulieu can learn from him.”
When told of Therrien’s remarks, Gonchar said: “It’s very nice of him to say that. I don’t know if it’s hard (to stay in shape), it’s just work. Day after day you do your warm-up, you do your stretch, you do extra exercises. It becomes part of your routine. It becomes second nature. I’ve been fortunate to play with some older guys and I learned from them. Once in a while, you have a night when you feel like taking it off and you have to push yourself.”
Gonchar said he’s feeling comfortable as he prepares to play his 20th game as a Canadien.
“I would say it’s not so easy to jump in the middle of the season after not going to training camp and have to learn a new system and new teammates, but now I feel comfortable here,” Gonchar said.
The veteran has been averaging more than 18 minutes of ice time per game and was asked whether he was worried about wear and tear as the season goes on.
“Let’s wait and see how it is in another month,” he said. “It’s hard to predict.”
While Therrien shuffled his lines for this game, the top line with Alex Galchenyuk between Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher remains intact and Galchenyuk said he feels at home after six games at centre.
“You can always do better, but I’m satisfied with my last couple of games,” said Galchenyuk, who has seven points and is plus-6 in the past six games. “But after the break, it’s all in the past and I’m focused on these games coming up.”
Galchenyuk said his line has been successful because he and his linemates have similar skills.
“We can all do the same thing,” the 20-year-old explained. “We can all make plays, we can all shoot and we all forecheck and play defence. When we combine our skills, it’s dangerous for defences playing against us.”
Therrien had one surprise after practice Sunday when he announced that Carey Price will start in goal Monday. The coach said he hadn’t decided who will play Tuesday in Florida. Therrien did say that backup Dustin Tokarski will play on this trip, which concludes back-to-back games Friday in New Jersey and Saturday in Pittsburgh.