Alexander Radulov ‘excited to play with Alex Galchenyuk’ at left wing

Canadiens' head coach Michel Therrien talks about Max Pacioretty's game and the success the new roster is having so far in Montreal.

Alexander Radulov was a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Canadiens when the team inked him to a one-year, $5.75 million contract this summer.

The big Russian winger has always had success playing in North America, scoring 13 points in 17 regular season and playoff games with the Predators when we last saw him in the NHL. His career high is 26 goals and 58 points, something the Habs hoped he could duplicate this season.

The thing is, Radulov had a negative reputation dogging him after missing curfew for the Predators before a playoff game in 2012. As Sportsnet Habs reporter Eric Engels wrote, Radulov is “all-in” this time, older, wiser and hungry to leave his mark in the NHL.

“Radulov, he’s got a lot to prove, to prove to himself, and it’s a good mix right now for him and for us he’s got a lot of passion, he knows the city, he knows the province, he’s got a lot of success in the Quebec League playing for Patrick Roy and the (Quebec) Remparts,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien told the Hockey Night in Canada panel.

Radulov has had great success as a right winger through his hockey career, but Therrien is slotting him in on the left side of Montreal’s top line alongside Alex Galchenyuk with Brendan Gallagher on the right side for Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs.

And the coach said Radulov was excited at the opportunity, even if it’s not where he usually likes to play.

“I wanted to make sure this morning he felt comfortable playing the left side,” Therrien told the panel. “For sure for him most of the time he’s had success on the right side, but you know what, he’s excited to play with Alex Galchenyuk. They’ve got a good chemistry and a guy like Gallagher going hard to the net, but like he said to me, ‘I’ll play anywhere whatever it’s on the right side or the left side.’

“He’s got some experience just have to make sure he’s focused on the right thing, but I don’t see any problem playing him on the left side.”

Therrien said he tested out the combination in the third period of Friday’s game against Tampa Bay, with the Canadiens trailing 1-0. The Lightning were playing the Habs hard, so in an attempt to tie the game, Therrien switched out Pacioretty with Radulov on the line and saw instant chemistry.

The Habs came back to win the game 3-1.

Saturday’s Montreal-Toronto game takes centre stage on CBC for Hockey Night in Canada.

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