Pat Hickey – The Gazette Monday, October 06, 2003
Gordie Dwyer said he doesn’t feel threatened by the Canadiens’ acquisition of tough guys Darren Langdon and Steve Bégin in the National Hockey League’s annual waiver draft.
“There are a couple of ways of looking at it, but I see it as an opportunity,” Dwyer said after the Habs completed their preseason schedule with a 1-1 tie against the Ottawa Senators Saturday night at the Corel Centre. “I suppose you could say they’re after my job, but I like to think this takes some of the pressure off me.
“In Darren’s case, we’re not the same player,” Dwyer noted. “He’s a genuine heavyweight. I’m more of a guy that gets in peoples’ way. I don’t necessarily look for fights. I bother people and stuff happens. We’re not a very big team and these guys will help us. The way I see it, you can never get enough character guys on a team.”
Dwyer is one of the players on the bubble as the Canadiens must cut down to 23 players by tomorrow in preparation for Thursday’s regular-season opener in Ottawa.
It looked as if coach Claude Julien’s final cuts would be easy with 24 healthy bodies in camp, but the addition of Langdon and Bégin means more thought will go into the process. The losers in the final cut might well include the younger players in camp – Chris Higgins and Tomas Plekanec – and one defenceman.
The equation might change depending on the report from the clinic. Saku Koivu and Chad Kilger will not be available for the opener, and there are question marks surrounding Francis Bouillon and Richard Zednik, who tweaked his knee Saturday.
Koivu has a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee and the original prognosis was that he might be available for the home opener against Washington on Oct. 14.
He skated last Monday and said he was ahead of schedule. But he has been on the ice only once since then and there’s no timetable for him to resume skating.
Kilger has done some light skating and work in the gym, but is still recovering from a stick to the eye during training camp. The good news is his vision is improving; the bad news is it’s still blurred.
Bouillon is day-to-day with bruised ribs, and the Canadiens are awaiting word on Zednik, who left Saturday’s game in the third period after straining his left knee. The medical staff will have a better idea of his condition after they see an MRI.
Zednik was the team’s leading goal-scorer last season and the Canadiens could have used some goals during the preseason.
With José Theodore and Mathieu Garon limiting the opposition to fewer than two goals a game, the Habs managed to scored only 14 goals as they struggled to two wins, six losses and a tie. Two of those losses were in overtime.
“If we can keep playing like this on defence, I’m not worried,” Theodore said. “If we can keep the goals-against around 2.00, we’re going to be OK.”
Defenceman Sheldon Souray agreed and said the Canadiens’ defensive system came through on the final weekend of the exhibition schedule with a 3-2 win at home Friday night against Minnesota and the tie in Ottawa.
“The way we’re playing may not be pretty, but we got good results against two very good hockey teams,” Souray said.
After opening in Ottawa Thursday, the Canadiens are in Toronto on Saturday night. They then play their next six games at home.