Deslauriers doing his job as an enforcer
Why is Nicolas Deslauriers on the Canadiens’ roster? This is a popular question on Twitter, but the answer was there for all to see Thursday as Deslauriers played his part in the Canadiens’ 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre. Deslauriers was a healthy scratch Tuesday, when the Canadiens won the first half of their home-and-away series against the Senators. A second-period outburst propelled Montreal to a 5-2 win. They won most of the battles and outhit the Senators 33-20. There was some frustration on the part of the Senators during the third period and head coach Claude Julien was concerned that Ottawa might take some liberties with Montreal’s star players when the Sens returned home for the rematch. That’s why Thursday’s game started with Deslauriers on a line with Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi, the team’s leading scorers. Was Julien trying to send a message? “The message was that if you want to go after our star players,” you have to deal with Deslauriers, said Julien. “I never told him to (fight), but I wanted (the Senators) to know that he was there for protection. When things like that happen, you deal with it and we dealt with it.” As it was, Deslauriers’ services as an enforcer weren’t needed. Ottawa did play a more physical game on Thursday — the hits were 37-36 in favour of the Canadiens — but there were only four penalties in the game and Deslauriers had more shots on goal (three) than hits (one). “We knew they might try to play a chippy little game; they tried it the last 10 minutes at the Bell Centre,” said Deslauriers. “I was happy to play. We have lot of depth on our team and as a line we didn’t play well against San Jose (a 3-1 loss last Sunday), so somebody had to sit down and think it over and that was me. I wasn’t mad. We had a great game, the team played well. When you get back in the lineup, you just want to have chemistry with the other two guys on your line and that’s what we did tonight. “I felt good tonight and this is the kind of game I want to play. I knew they would try to go after our star players (and) I want them to do that because it gives me a focus.” A hockey team has a variety of skills. You want your fourth line to play enough minutes to take
We knew they (the Senators) might try to play a chippy little game; they tried it the last 10 minutes at the Bell Centre. I was happy to play.
the pressure off the other lines and, if things go well, nothing bad happens when they’re on the ice. Each of the players on the fourth line Thursday had something to contribute. Kenny Agostino, who was called up from Laval Nov. 6, has an offensive skill set that has earned him time on the second power-play unit. Michael Chaput, who was called up from Laval two weeks later, earns extra minutes as a penalty killer and he’s someone you want in the faceoff circle for a key draw. Among the Canadiens who regularly take draws, Chaput leads the team in faceoff percentage with a success rate of 60 per cent. Deslauriers had a career-high 10 goals last season, but his biggest asset is his muscle, even when it’s simply a threat. The Canadiens had a chance to get a good night’s sleep after the win in Ottawa. It was the first game in a three-game road trip and normally the team would board a charter flight after the match. But their next game is Sunday in Chicago (6 p.m., SN, SN1, RDS, TSN 690 Radio) and the Canadiens took a flight from Ottawa on Friday. Defenceman Xavier Ouellet headed back to Montreal. He was placed on waivers Friday to make room on the roster for Noah Juulsen, who is returning from a facial fracture. Juulsen could return in Chicago or Tuesday in Minnesota. If Ouellet clears waivers Saturday, he’ll report to Laval.
After being a healthy scratch Tuesday against the Senators, Canadiens forward Nicolas Deslauriers returned to the lineup Thursday in Ottawa for their victory over Cody Ceci, Craig Anderson and the rest of the Sens at Canadian Tire Centre.
Chicago PAT HICKEY