Christian Larrivee is a rookie out of Chicoutimi of the QMJHL. He has 31 points in 66 games for the ECHL Columbus Cottonmouths, and two points in two games for the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs. The 6’3” 200-pound center was a fourth round pick of the Canadiens in 2000.
Disguised in fatigue-like jerseys, looking very much like the Brampton Battalion, the Columbus Cottonmouths defeated the South Carolina Stingrays 6-2 on Armed Services Night on Saturday. Hockey’s Future spoke to Larrivee after the game.
HF: I’ve seen you five or six times this year and this is the best I’ve seen you play. Did you think it was one of your better games?
CL: Yeah. I was pretty tired too, we played last night against Pensacola. We had a tough game too, we lost. I don’t know why, but I’m always better after Christmas. Before Christmas I was good, the coach told me I was playing good, but I’ve been like that for my last five years. But I just keep it going, work harder and harder. But tonight I thought I played really good too, even though I was tired.
HF: If you play better and better after Christmas, would you say you peak in the playoffs?
CL: Yeah, I’m always better as the season goes. When the playoffs start, I’m just at my top. We’ll see, we have like five more games to play. We have to win those games to make the playoffs. It’s going to be pretty close. Hopefully we can make the playoffs.
HF: How did you feel the adjustment has been for you coming from junior?
CL: I think here it’s a pretty good skill of hockey, way better than junior. I would like to be in the AHL, but I’m not lucky this year, they split a team with Tampa Bay, they got some players from Tampa Bay. I’m not lucky because of that. But I try to work harder and harder. I got called up this year, just after Christmas. I played two games there and I think I played really good. So I’m happy about that and I just try to work harder and harder.
HF: One thing I’ve heard mentioned from guys coming from junior is no longer making circles, but rather starts and stops. Have you noticed that difference?
CL: Yeah, I think in junior you stop, but not like that. The hockey is so much stronger here. It’s faster. If you are curling you lose some speed. You have to have your guy, and you’re in trouble if you don’t start and stop.
HF: How would you describe your game?
CL: I’m more of a playmaker. I score some goals, but more of a playmaker. I need to finish my checks too. Some games I don’t, but I have to, every coach has told me that. I’m not the guy who is going to score 130 points per season. I’m going to score a lot of points, but I need to play on both sides of the ice, as good on defense as on offense.
HF: Do you feel you’ve improved this year, and in what way?
CL: Yes, definitely. I’m playing more intense. I have to work on that, every coach has told me that. I wasn’t before Christmas, like I said, but now I’m more intense and try to work harder and harder. I think I’m better now.
HF: What do you think you still need to work on?
CL: I need to work on my speed for sure. The first three steps, just my explosion. The NHL and AHL are pretty fast, so I need to work on it. And I need to shoot more, every coach has told me that. I have a good shot, so I need to shoot.
HF: How are you going to work on your speed, are you going to go to a camp in the summer?
CL: I have a trainer to work with me all summer. So I’ll work on it. We will do some extra legs to improve my speed.
HF: Is the trainer in your hometown? Is that where you’re going to go this summer?
CL: It’s where I was playing in Chicoutimi in junior. He’s with me every day.
HF: Do you think working with the trainer has already helped with your speed?
CL: Yeah, a lot. In my first year in junior I wasn’t that fast. Up to this year I see a lot of improvement, so I’m pretty happy about that.
HF: I didn’t notice your speed as something you need work on, it seems fine.
CL: Yeah, I’m fine but I need to be better if I want to go up.
HF: You are a –9 right now, do you feel like you need to work on your defensive game?
CL: I don’t think so. For two or three years in junior I was minus. I didn’t play very well on defense. But this year, I think I have played very well on defense. I don’t know why I’m still –9. I try to work on it.
HF: Are you just unlucky?
CL: Yeah, I think I’m unlucky a little bit (laughing). I don’t know. Maybe before Christmas I was worse than I am right now. I think I’m getting better on defense.
HF: Tonight you were with J-F Plourde and Colin Pepperall, have you been playing with them a lot lately?
CL: No, I think it’s my third game with them. I used to play with (Brad) Voth and (John) Morlang and that goes pretty well too, but I like to play with those guys. We can dangle the puck, make some plays and I like that. It’s my kind of game, I need to have the puck and give it to guys.
HF: Do you normally play both the power play and the penalty kill?
CL: Yes, I’m on the power play and penalty kill. I’ve played everywhere since I’ve been here. I play a lot and get a lot of ice time. I’m pretty happy about that.
HF: The ECHL doesn’t keep track of ice time, but do you have any idea how many minutes you play?
CL: A lot (laughing). I get a lot. I don’t worry about that, I’m fine.
HF: How did Montreal camp go for you this year?
CL: I think it was way better than last year. Last year I didn’t play very well. I played in Hull with the four other teams. But this year I played way better. In Hamilton we got like five preseason games and I played very well. The coach was pretty happy about me. It was the first time I was happy about my play and had a chance to say on the team. But they got some players from Tampa Bay, so that was unlucky.
HF: What is your goal for next season?
CL: I want to be in Hamilton for sure. It will be the second year of my contract and I want to be in the AHL. I want to get some points, play good and maybe in two or three years be in the show if I can. I want to be in Hamilton and I would be the happiest guy in the world (laughing).