SUN Hockey Pool

Promotion pumps Plante

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

EDMONTON - DENVER — He only went nine spots after Sam Gagner in the 2007 entry draft, but it’s taken him three years to make up the difference.

No fault of Alex Plante; there’s just a different learning curve between stay-at-home defencemen and Team Canada Super Series MVPs.

But Plante is here now, called up from Oklahoma City in time for last night’s game with the Avalanche, and hoping to make a lasting impression.

“I wasn’t really expecting it, I wasn’t expecting to come up and get this opportunity, so I’m really excited and really looking forward to it,” said the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder.

“My goal is to prove that I’m capable. When you’re this age (21 years, nine months) it’s a prime opportunity to show what you have and to show that you’re willing to do anything to be here.

“Having said that, I don’t want to go out there and try to do too much and make a bunch of mistakes. I have to try to find that fine line.”

Plante had his struggles in junior, largely due to injury, but he’s growing into the pro game, reinventing himself as a shutdown guy after 45 points in his final season with the Calgary Hitmen in 2008-09.

“You can underestimate his ability to pass the puck and he seems to get it through in the offensive zone most often and he has a decent shot, there is some offence there,” said head coach Tom Renney.

“But with his size and reach and range, he’ll need to learn to shut down good players to make his mark in the NHL.”

Whatever it takes.

“Getting here has always been a dream and a passion of mine, I don’t want to let anything come in front of that,” said the Manitoba product.

“I have an understanding of what I have to do to try and get here, from the coaching staff and the brass.

“I can sort of play in any role, that good-at-everything- great-at-nothing sort of thing.

“The best opportunity for me is to come in here and play hard and simple and take care of my own end first.”

Brule out again

It’s deja Brue all over again.

Just three games after returning to the lineup after a long battle with flu-like symptoms, Gilbert Brule is back in sick bay.

“He’s a little susceptible to whatever bug might be moving around,” said Renney. “He’s much better than he was on Friday, so we’re hoping this is a one-off thing.”

Brule is great when he’s in the lineup. He has three goals in his last five games (spread out over seven weeks) and is, remarkably, fifth on the team in hits despite missing 29 games.

But he needs to show he can be relied on.

“That’s the difficulty, keeping him healthy and giving him a chance to feed off of that and have some good performances,” said Renney.

“The kid can play the game and he plays it the way we like it played. He’s got intensity, he’s got a physical component to his game, he has the ability to score.

“His work habits are always good and he’s a good teammate. We have to make sure we give ourselves a chance to play through this and bring what he can to our team.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/TYCHKOWSKI


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