Pacioretty, Maxwell face uphill battle



The odds of finding regular employment with the Canadiens in the coming season appear stacked against Max Pacioretty and Ben Maxwell, but they both believe that if they work hard they will be rewarded.

The offseason acquisitions of Lars Eller, Jeff Halpern and Dustin Boyd don't leave the Canadiens with much room on their roster but, as the team's rookie camp opened yesterday, the 21-year-old Pacioretty sees his situation as a challenge.

"I'm not sure where I'm going to fit in," he said. "I know that if I play well enough, I'm going to make a spot for myself with this team. I hope to impress the coaches and show them what I showed them last year. I did a good job of proving I belong at the last camp and this year I can give them a better idea of what I can do."

Pacioretty started last season with the Canadiens, but was sent to Hamilton after scoring three goals and 11 assists in 52 games.

"It was tough," Pacioretty said of the demotion. "I had a lot of confidence issues last year. I have to be stronger mentally. If I'm not scoring goals, I have to believe that I can score goals. Maybe I was little bit immature, but right now I know I'm ready to face a bunch of challenges. I know I'm not going to play well 82 games out of the year because, frankly, no one does.

"The thing that's holding me from the NHL right now is that I haven't been scoring many goals. I know I'm capable of scoring goals. It's something you can work on every day but, really, it's between the ears."

Pacioretty, who was a first-round draft choice in 2007, said he believes that he can become a top-six forward in the NHL.

Pacioretty had two goals and nine assists in 18 games in Hamilton, but was hampered by a shoulder injury. He said the shoulder has healed without surgery and "I try not to think about it."

Pacioretty has been working out near his home in Connecticut with players like Martin St. Louis and teammate Michael Cammalleri. He comes into camp 10 pounds heavier than he was last year, but says the additional weight is pure muscle.

"I kept my body fat around the same area and I worked on my speed and explosiveness. I hope every camp I can say I never felt better. I can honestly say that now."

Maxwell finished the season in Montreal, but became little more than an insurance policy. He was on the roster for 24 games, but was a healthy scratch for 11 of those and made one brief appearance in the playoffs.

Maxwell said he knew that the late-summer addition of Halpern would make his task more difficult.

"I saw it as a sign that they felt some of the young guys aren't ready," said Maxwell, who was called up after collecting 16 goals and 28 assists in 57 games with Hamilton. "I can't get discouraged. I know if I work hard I'm going to play in the NHL."


Story Tools


The Gazette Headline News

Sign up to receive daily headline news from The Gazette.