NHL learning experience continues for Canadiens’ Alexander Romanov


“I just want to help my team every single game, every time when I step on the ice,” Russian rookie says after making his playoff debut.

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It had been a while since Canadiens defenceman Alexander Romanov had done a Zoom session with the media.

The reason is that the Russian rookie hadn’t played a game for almost a month before making his NHL playoff debut in the Canadiens’ 3-2 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets Monday night at the Bell Centre to complete a four-game sweep of the North Division final series.

It’s always fun watching and listening to Romanov during the Zoom sessions with his big smile, laugh and his constantly improving English.

When asked about being a healthy scratch for the Canadiens’ first 10 playoff games, Romanov said with a big smile: “Just coach decides … I trust coach. This is better for team, maybe. I don’t know.”

The 21-year-old Romanov had only 9:27 of ice time during his playoff debut — replacing the injured Jeff Petry in the lineup — but he impressed head coach Dominique Ducharme.

“He showed some good composure,” Ducharme said. “Made some good decisions with the puck. Overall was in good position. We like his energy and, at the same time, it’s important to manage that and put it the right way. I think he did that. So we’re happy with the way he’s progressing.


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“Don’t forget, it’s a big adjustment for a young guy like him,” Ducharme added. “Playing on a big ice (in the KHL) for a defenceman is a lot different. So he had to adapt to the NHL, to the ice surface, to the lifestyle, many things. Like we said before, he went through the season, had ups and downs. He’s still learning every day and he’s still really young for a defenceman and he’s got a bright future. So we’re happy with the way things have gone for him and we’ll keep working with him.”

Ducharme said the Canadiens coaching staff doesn’t need to use a Russian translator to communicate effectively with Romanov.

“He understands,” Ducharme said. “At times we got to go slowly and make sure that we take different ways to make him understand. But he’s progressing on that side, too.”


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Romanov played in 54 of the Canadiens’ 56 regular-season games, posting 1-5-6 totals and a plus-1 while averaging 17:15 of ice time. But when the playoffs started, Ducharme decided to go with experience on the blue line, first playing Jon Merrill and then Erik Gustafsson ahead of Romanov. Another reason is that Ducharme doesn’t want to play Romanov — a left-hand shot — on the right side.

“For me it doesn’t matter where I will be playing,” Romanov said. “Left, right, forward, goalie. For me it doesn’t matter. I just want to help my team every single game, every time when I step on the ice.”

Ducharme said he’s not certain if Petry, who injured his right hand, will be ready to go when the Stanley Cup semifinals begin and Merrill, who is also injured, definitely won’t be ready. Ducharme added that Cale Fleury will join the Canadiens as an extra defenceman.

Romanov was asked what he’s focusing on heading into the next round.

“Just help my team to win the Cup,” he said. “Just playing right, playing solid, fast. Just do everything that I need to do. Just do my job.”




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