OTTAWA | Owen Beck, who was urgently called up Friday night, will indeed play his first game in the NHL on Saturday night when the Canadian will try to end a two-game losing streak by visiting the Senators.
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“Let’s just say the last 24 hours have been pretty crazy. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly,” said Beck at the end of the morning practice session.
We can understand that the young man of 18 years remained surprised. It’s not every day that an NHL roster uses one of their emergency callbacks to pull a player out of the junior ranks.
With the exception of Michael Sergachev, who started the 2016-2017 season in Montreal and who the Habs recalled for the final game of the regular schedule, we have to fall back on Olivier Michaud.
Recall that on October 26, 2001, the Shawinigan Cataractes goaltender played the third period of a game in Edmonton four days later.
“I had dinner planned with my father tonight. I called him yesterday to tell him I had to cancel. He asked me why. I told him it was because I was playing my first game in the NHL. He became overjoyed. He was so happy,” said Beck, who is traveling to the federal capital with more than twenty relatives and friends for his professional debut.
A good impression
Although Beck received the call in his capacity as a center player, Martin St-Louis declined to confirm if he would use him in that position. However, we do know that Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach and Christian Dvorak haven’t been at their best for a while.
“I don’t necessarily have any expectations. He’s going to have to experiment with that level of play and I’m sure he’ll improve as the game progresses,” said the Canadiens head coach.
“You can’t prepare for that. He has to rely on his experience of what he went through in training camp, pre-season games and at the World Junior Championships, he continued. He needs to have fun and not take it too seriously. »
As the Canadians’ second-round pick (33rd overall) last June, Beck has turned heads this fall. First at Rookie Camp, held in Buffalo, and at Main Camp.
“I came to the camp with the goal of making a good impression and building on that,” he said.
It worked. Enough for Kent Hughes to get him to sign his NHL entry contract before the campaign begins.
Under Suzuki’s wings
Beck is leaving Peterborough, where he plays with the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Petes, for the Canadiens on Friday night. The team leaders, led by Nick Suzuki, made him feel welcome and quickly integrated into the group by inviting him to dinner.
The Canadiens captain was 20 when he began his NHL career, but he can understand how an 18-year-old can feel just hours before his first game at Bettman Circuit.
“There’s a lot of apprehension when you play your first game. We wanted to make sure he was comfortable with us, we wanted to help him as much as possible. I hope he gets a good night’s sleep this afternoon. »
To make room for him in the formation, which will field 12 attackers and six defenders, Chris Wideman is left out.
St-Louis had already confirmed on Friday that Samuel Montembeault would face the senators’ gunfire.