Before training camp officially wrapped up, the Montreal media met after practice with Victor Mete, Ben Chiarot, Artturi Lehkonen and head coach Claude Julien.
Victor Mete opened Tuesday’s session, being asked if he thinks he’ll crack the lineup on Wednesday.
“Haven’t been told yet, but from the look of it, I was on the fourth D-pairing, just going to stay ready and we’ll see what happens.”
With all the new additions, Mete also spoke about the potential of being on the outside looking in for Montreal.
“Wasn’t sure what to expect, kinda just came into camp just working my hardest and trying to be the best I can be on the ice. I’m happy with my camp, I thought it was really good, so we’ll see.”
Ben Chiarot was next to the podium, addressing the media for the first time since camp started. He spoke about the importance of a fast start to the season.
“I think in any year, it’s important. Especially this year being 56 games, it’s going to be even more important, more of a sprint than a regular year. Starting on the road is good for us, we got a handful of new guys, getting everyone together and having some time together on the road will be important, get our game together as we go here in the beginning.”
He also gave his impression of Alexander Romanov, who will make his NHL debut on Wednesday night in Toronto.
“He’s big, mobile, when I think of our blue line, Romanov looked great. Looks wise, beyond his years as far as defending goes, you can tell he’s played with men before. The way he closes his gap and uses his stick, he’s pretty advanced that way for a 21-year-old kid, so excited to see him in game action.”
Artturi Lehkonen was next to meet with the media and was asked about being paired with forward Jake Evans, who is his centre on the fourth line.
“Jake has been good. It’s fun to play with him, he’s really fast, he can use his speed very well and drive the puck up the ice. It’s fun to see and it’s nice to play with him for sure.”
Lehkonen also spoke about how tough it will be for other teams to play against the Canadiens forward group.
“I think it’s going to be good. We have added some size, we still have a lot of fast forwards who can forecheck the other teams, make the other teams cough up pucks and spend some time in the offensive zone.”
Claude Julien wrapped up the session before flying to Toronto with the team for Opening Night. He spoke about the possible resemblance this season could have to postseason hockey.
“I think so and there’s more to just the fact it’s 56 games, but also the fact you’re playing the same team a lot. You’re playing them in consecutive games, there’s kind of a playoff atmosphere that gets created in those kinds of situations, so yeah, it will resemble what you see in the playoffs then you would in a regular season.”
He also spoke of Quebec’s current situation and how important a role his team will play to their fanbase.
“It’s a tough situation for everybody, even in our case here. We’re glad to be back at work and do what we enjoy doing. We know the impact it has on the population, on the fans, people that enjoy hockey, we saw a little bit of it in the World Juniors just a few weeks ago, we hope that we can continue that, but we also know that there are sacrifices we need to make from our own end as far as being extremely careful with everything we are going through. Protocol is in place to hopefully minimize it, hopefully no cases, but at the end of the day, we have to be careful, but I guess for the mental health of everybody right now, we hope we can make a difference and help out in regards to that, put some smiles on peoples faces, get some excitement going, so we understand we have an opportunity to do that and hopefully we take advantage of it.”
As mentioned after speaking to the press, the team hit the road for Toronto, where they will open the year against the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena at 7:00pmET. The game can be seen on Sportsnet and TVA Sports for all those in Canadiens region.