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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
After going undrafted in the Ontario Hockey League , Matt D'Agostini began his hockey career sliding in under the radar, but that didn't last very long. During his first OHL season he earned the OHL's 2nd rookie team honors with 24 goals and 46 points in 59 games, and has continued to improve every season, and in every league since.
Originally drafted by the Canadiens in the 6th round of the 2005 draft, D'Agostini played in 53 games last season scoring 12 goals and 9 assists for 21 points while averaging just over 13 minutes per game. History however tells us that D'Agostini has more to offer and he eagerly looks to showing that as early as this season.
While getting ready for 09/10 season, Matt took some time for HW to answer the questions that you, the fans, wrote in with.
HW - What do you make of the off-season changes, did they help or hurt the team?
Matt - Well there's no doubt we lost a lot of key guys and a lot of leadership, but I liked our offseason moves. We picked up a lot of skill up front and d-men that can skate, as well as move the puck.
HW - What role do you envision taking on this year?
Matt - I want to be more of a rounded player that can play in all situations. I'm ready to take on a bigger role and be a consistent player for the team.
HW - What sort of off-season training did you do this summer?
Matt - I have a personal trainer in my hometown (Mike Cowan) that I have worked with for the past 5 years, the workouts are pretty intense but they are always different from day to day so I can't really say something specific.
HW - Who is your best friend in the locker room?
Matt - Well, there are a lot of guys that I played with in the minors who I became pretty close with. Guys like chipper (Chipchura), stewy (Stewart), burner (O'Byrne), lappy (Lapierre) and pricer (Price) in the AHL, and then higgs (Higgins) and komo (Komisarek) who were already there in the NHL. We'd also let gorgy (Gorges) follow us around from time to time, we don't mind having him around at all (laughs). The older guys are awesome too and I learned a lot from them. Having a close team like that makes it fun going to the rink every day.
HW - What do you eat before a game?
Matt - The standard I guess. A lot of pasta and chicken early in the afternoon and then maybe some fruit before I go to the game.
HW - Looking ahead, did you set any personal goals for this season
Matt - I want to become more of a go to guy I guess you can say. Play in the important situations.
HW - What kind of exercises do you do to better your shot ?
Matt - I just shoot a lot of pucks. Its always something I've done since I was young. My dad always made me a rink in the back yard so I was always out there shooting. I tend to play a lot in the summer, and I think that helps too.
HW - Which of the newest Canadiens are you the most excited to play with?
Matt - It was fun watching Gomez last year. He's a really skilled guy who controls the puck for most of the game, so it would be fun to play with a guy like that.
HW - What was the hardest transition for you into the NHL?
Matt - Knowing that every game I had to go out there and try to prove that I belonged in the NHL. You can't take any nights off because there's always someone waiting to take your job.
HW- Which opposing players gave you the most trouble.
Matt - We always had a tough time with St. Louis and Lecavalier. They do a great job of finding each other and they don't miss too many chances.
HW - Who hit you the hardest?
Matt - Robyn Regehr grabbed me and threw me into the boards pretty hard one time. I was pretty slow coming up from that one.
HW - Who is the most annoying player you've played against?
Matt - I'd say, Ryan Callahan.
HW - Who is the best coach you've had, the one that had the best impact on your career?
Matt - Dave Barr was my coach for my two years in Guelph (OHL) and he pretty much made me into the player I am today.
HW - Matt, what do you do to get out of a scoring drought?
Matt - I went through a couple of them this past season and it's not easy. You can't think about scoring goals or you lose sight of everything else. I just try to focus on playing my game like I always would and the scoring chances will come.
HW - At this point in your development, do you feel that you'd learn more receiving lots of minutes on a top 2 line, or handling less responsibility and taking it slow?
Matt - I think now I'm ready to be a top 6 forward. It's just a matter of showing that I can play consistently on one of the top scoring lines.
HW - What opposing teams/players get you fired up to play against?
Matt - Any teams in our division. For me the games against Toronto and Boston get me really fired up because of the great rivalries we have.
HW - Which gives you the most satisfaction, score a goal, get an assist, block a shot, lay someone out?
Matt - Obviously scoring a goal for me is the most exciting. The little things like blocking a shot, or finishing your check, are huge because the team needs guys who are willing to do the dirty work.
HW - Out of all the UFA departures in Montreal, which one saddened you the most?
Matt - Saku. He was the best leader I have ever played for, and losing him is a huge blow.
HW - What were the most important things you learned last year
Matt - It's a long season so you have to be able to shake off a bad loss, but at the same time you have to learn from it because the next game is right around the corner.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Matt - Golfing, bonfires, and hang out with friends and family as much as I can.
What is your favourite Music group?
Matt - method man
What is your favourite movie?
Matt - Dumb and Dumber
What is your favourite food?
Matt - Sushi
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Matt - Being stuck in traffic when you're already late
Do you have a nickname?
Matt - It's been Dags for as long as I can remember. I also accept Snoop Daggy (Laughing)
What was your first hockey related Christmas present?
Matt - I don't really remember, probably the mini sticks
Are you superstitious, or do you have any pregame rituals?
Matt - I try my hardest not to have any because it just plays with my head.
Who is your best friend in hockey?
Matt - Kelsey Wilson. He's playing pro in Austria right now, but we played together growing up.
If you didn't play hockey, what would be your dream job?
Matt - I have no clue. Playing hockey for a couple of hours a day, then having the rest of the day off seems like a pretty good dream job to me.
Who was your favourite NHL team growing up?
Matt - The Habs!