Tatar, Alzner look to re­bound in Mon­treal

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - SPORTS - Ju­lian McKen­zie

BROSSARD, Que. — To­mas Tatar and Karl Alzner are two dif­fer­ent play­ers — one a scor­ing winger, the other a bruis­ing de­fence­man.

But they can re­late to each other this sea­son. Com­ing off chal­leng­ing sea­sons, Tatar and Alzner both are in the same pres­sure cooker that is the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens dress­ing room.

Alzner was part of last year’s team in Mon­treal that fell well short of the play­offs, while Tatar failed to make much of an im­pact with Ve­gas af­ter get­ting dealt to the West­ern Con­fer­ence champs from the Detroit Red Wings at the trade dead­line.

“A few times last year we just said, ‘You know what? Bad game, let’s get over it,’ in­stead of ac­tu­ally get­ting to the root of the prob­lem,” Alzner said as the Cana­di­ens re­ported for med­i­cals on Thurs­day.

“Hop­ing we can re­ally set a good base right from day one here and fig­ure it out.”

Tatar was ac­quired by the Cana­di­ens in the Max Pacioretty trade ear­lier this week. The exHabs cap­tain went to Ve­gas for Tatar, prospect for­ward Nick Suzuki and a sec­ond-round pick.

While the Cana­di­ens’ off-sea­son moves re­sem­ble that of a re­build, gen­eral man­ager Marc Bergevin has em­pha­sized his team is go­ing through a “re­set.” It means new­com­ers like Tatar will be called on to solve the scor­ing woes that have plagued the team.

“That kind of pres­sure is al­ways on you. You want to score. You want to be pro­duc­tive,” Tatar said.

Alzner said that while the Cana­di­ens don’t have the “Ovis, the Back­stroms, the Crosby and Malkin,” there are some play­ers who can score. But the sta­tis­tics say oth­er­wise.

Only the Ari­zona Coy­otes and the Buf­falo Sabres scored fewer goals than the Habs last sea­son. Pacioretty has had five 30-goal sea­sons, though he man­aged only 17 last year.

The Cana­di­ens also have parted ways with Alex Galchenyuk. The third over­all pick from 2012 scored 19 goals and fin­ished sec­ond on the team in points last sea­son. While the Cana­di­ens did have a first­time 30-goal scorer in Bren­dan Gal­lagher last sea­son, pun­dits feel Mon­treal will strug­gle to score again this sea­son.

“If you’re not scor­ing and not be­ing pro­duc­tive and the team is los­ing, some­body’s go­ing to take the hit,” Tatar added.

Alzner was once in Tatar’s shoes as a new, prom­i­nent player on the team. The six-foot-three Burn­aby, B.C., na­tive signed a five-year, US$23.125 mil­lion con­tract with the Cana­di­ens dur­ing the 2017 off­sea­son be­fore scor­ing a goal and adding 11 as­sists in 82 games.

“The first year, you see you’ve done things the same way for so long and you kind of ex­pect it to be one way,” Alzner said.

Alzner has per­sonal goals for him­self this sea­son.

“I want to play faster,” Alzner said. “I want to be able to push the pace a lit­tle bit more. I think last year, per­son­ally, I was back on my heels a lit­tle too much and wait­ing for stuff to come out. When you have as many good play­ers as there are in the league, that’s not good.”

There will be grow­ing pains for in­com­ing play­ers like Tatar, but also for new as­sis­tant coaches Do­minique Ducharme and Luke Richard­son.

In Mon­treal, how­ever, no one es­capes pres­sure and at­ten­tion.

“We have to pull to­gether,” Tatar added. “Play as one team. If some­one won’t be do­ing good, then some­body else has to re­place him and help him out.”

To­mas Tatar

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