- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday morning in preparation for their tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre.
- Prior to the start of practice, forward Alexander Semin hit the ice for a brief skating session. Semin, who remains on injured reserve, suffered a lower-body injury on November 25 against the New York Rangers.
- Head coach Michel Therrien – who will be behind the bench for his 700th career NHL game – confirmed only one lineup change for Tuesday night’s contest against Columbus. Alexei Emelin returns to active duty after missing the last two games. He will take Greg Pateryn’s spot on the back end.
- Life without Carey Price in goal begins for real on Tuesday night. Deprived of the All-World netminder’s services for at least the next six weeks, the Canadiens are well aware of the challenge that lies ahead. It’s a test they’re prepared to handle head on, coming to work with the same approach that has helped them reach the top of the NHL standings through seven weeks of play early on this season.
“We’re handling this like professionals. For young guys or inexperienced guys who’ve never gone through this before, where you have injury problems and guys need to step up, this is where we get to see what we’re made of as a team,” explained defenseman P.K. Subban, who currently sits tied for third among all NHL rearguards with 20 points on the year. “I think that any team in this league, when they lose their No. 1 goaltender – or a couple of their top players, like with Gally and Mitchy that we’re missing, too – the onus is on us to respond the right way as a group. If we have the right attitude, we’ll be fine.”
In fact, the 2013 Norris Trophy winner believes a little hardship isn’t necessarily a bad thing right about now.
“Quite frankly, I’m happy that our team is going through some adversity at this point in the year. It’s good for us. Come playoff time, there are going to be things that happen, too. It’s better for us to face it now and learn how to deal with it the right way,” admitted Subban. “We have the right leadership in this room that’s going to hold this group accountable. Everybody’s got to step up and contribute.”
- After being called up from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps on Monday afternoon, goaltender Zachary Fucale took part in Tuesday’s morning skate on the South Shore. The Rosemere native has performed brilliantly in the early stages of his professional career, posting a 7-2-1 record, a 3.12 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage in 12 appearances so far this year.
“After getting the call, I had an instant smile on my face. I smiled pretty much the entire day. It’s very exciting, but at the same, it’s just another step forward. Like management said, I just need to stay ready. I’m not here on vacation. I need to work hard,” offered Fucale, who will serve as Mike Condon’s back-up on Tuesday night with Dustin Tokarski having been reassigned to the IceCaps on Monday. “This is a good opportunity for me to be around the pros. It will be beneficial both now and when I head back to St. John’s. My goal right now is just to learn and absorb as much knowledge as I can.”
Following the morning skate, Therrien expanded upon the Canadiens’ decision to send Tokarski back to St. John’s and bring Fucale up to the big club for the first time.
“Tokarski hasn’t played much in the last month. He needs to play before we’re going to use him. It wouldn’t be fair to throw him out there if he hasn’t played for almost a month. We want to make sure he’s going to play,” shared Therrien, referencing the fact that Tokarski will tend goal for the next three games with Sylvain Lefebvre’s squad, seeing game action on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. “For his part, Zach has done a wonderful job in St. John’s. I talked to him this morning. He has to be a sponge. He needs experience, but he’s also got to be ready [to play]. That’s his job. He’s a good kid with a good attitude.”
- Speaking of attitude, the Canadiens will surely be looking to avoid any sort of letdown once the puck drops on Tuesday night against John Tortorella’s contingent – even if 19 points currently separate the two teams in the standings.
“I don’t think you can look at the standings when you’re playing teams. They don’t reflect how tough this league is, especially with teams at the bottom of the league. The way this league is designed is any team can beat any other team on any given night if you’re not prepared or not playing the right way,” offered Subban, who has two goals and seven points in eight career games against Columbus. “Hockey is that type of game. If we don’t come out with the right attitude or the right performance, they’re going to beat us. It’s that simple.”
Therrien’s assessment of the Blue Jackets, meanwhile, is a good indicator that he isn’t taking the likes of Ryan Johnasen, Brandon Saad, Nick Foligno or Brandon Dubinsky, among others, lightly either.
“This is a team that a lot of people put in the playoffs. They had a bad start. They’ve played some good hockey lately, though, and they’re tough to play against,” offered Therrien. “They’ve been taking more chances and having some success. It’s going to be a hell of a challenge for us again tonight.”
- Mike Condon will make his 14th start of the year for the Canadiens. Sergei Bobrovsky will be between the pipes for the Blue Jackets.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
Words From The Room: December 1
Game Preview: Canadiens vs Blue Jackets
This Holiday Season, the Montreal Canadiens reach out to the community with different initiatives
Following practice Monday afternoon in Brossard, the Canadiens announced they had recalled goaltender Zachary Fucale from the St. John's IceCaps, while Dustin Tokarski has been reassigned back to the Habs’ AHL affiliate.
In 12 outings this season with St. John's, Fucale has a 7-2-1 record with a goals against average of 3.12 and a save percentage of .907. Fucale, who is in his first season of professional hockey in the AHL, earns his first call up to the NHL.
Tokarski has not seen action since being recalled by the Canadiens on Thursday November 26. He last made an appearance in relief of Mike Condon on November 14, allowing two goals on 13 shots. The IceCaps will play three games in the next few days, hitting the ice on December 2, 4 and 5.
- After a day off on Sunday, the Canadiens returned to practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday morning. Michel Therrien’s troops will be back in action on Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre.
- The Canadiens announced that goaltender Carey Price would be sidelined for at least six weeks with a lower-body injury. He will not require surgery, though. Following practice, general manager Marc Bergevin confirmed the news. He mentioned that he is totally confident in his goaltenders, especially Mike Condon who performed brilliantly during Price’s first absence earlier in the year.
|Michael Bournival was back at practice on Monday.|
- Absent from practice since the start of the season, Michael Bournival finally skated alongside his teammates on Monday. He had been sidelined with concussion-like symptoms, but was working out at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard every day with the help of athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine.
“I’ve been working hard to come back ready to go since September. I’m happy where I’m at today,” offered Bournival after practice. “When I failed the medicals at training camp, I was really disappointed. I played hockey all my life and being on the sidelines was tough. It’s been a long process. I’ve worked hard, almost three hours a day. I’m happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish with my treatment and finally to be able to skate with the guys.”
- Recalled from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps late Sunday afternoon, forward Daniel Carr took part in Monday’s on-ice session on the South Shore. Carr has put up eight goals, 17 points and a plus-7 differential in 21 games with Sylvain Lefebvre’s squad so far this year. He skated with Michael Bournival and Brian Flynn on a “fifth” line.
“I got the call after the game on Sunday. It’s an honour to be here and I’m really happy about it,” mentioned Carr. “I’ve been working hard with the coaches in St. John’s and I think things are going in the right direction for me.”
- Defenseman Tom Gilbert took part in Monday's practice session up until he came into contact with David Desharnais at center ice. Gilbert left the ice for about 10 minutes before returning and continuing on with regular drills. He skated alongside Greg Pateryn.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Eller – Galchenyuk – Andrighetto
Byron – Flynn - Thomas
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Smith-Pelly
Weise – Desharnais – Fleischmann
Carr – Flynn – Bournival
Pateryn – Gilbert
Beaulieu/Emelin – Petry
Markov – Subban
The Canadiens announced Monday morning that Carey Price would miss a minimum of six weeks due to a lower-body injury.
The Canadiens organization alos confirmed that last season's most valuable player will not have surgery.
Price returned on November 20th, after missing close to three weeks of action. He won all three of his starts since then, but did not complete the last one, Wednesday night against the New York Rangers.
Since the beginning of the season, Price has a record of 10-2-0, a goals-against average of 2.06 and a save percentage of .934.
David Desharnais earns Molson Cup honour for November
A tale of two cities
The Canadiens recalled forward Daniel Carr from St. John's on Sunday afternoon. The left winger has racked up nine goals and 19 points and posted a plus-7 differential through 21 AHL games this season. Carr had a goal and an assist against the Toronto Marlies prior to being called up on Sunday.
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Prudential Center on Friday ahead of their game against the Devils. Fifteen players took part in the practice, including Dustin Tokarski and Christian Thomas, who met the team in New Jersey on Thursday night after being recalled from St. John’s.
- Tokarski will back up Mike Condon against the Devils, as Carey Price was placed on the injured reserve list with a lower body injury on Thursday. Despite being without his starting netminder for at least the next few games, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that his game plan remains the same no matter who he has between the pipes.
“We had a really good start and we faced adversity early in the season when Carey got hurt. We lost another warrior in Brendan Gallagher, but for us, it’s business as usual,” explained Therrien. “We have to make sure we’re solid and that we give ourselves a chance to win hockey games by playing the right way. Credit goes to the players and the leadership, because they approach every game the right way. Absolutely nothing changes. We want to play the same way, we want to play the right way, we want to play within our structure. We believe our structure is what brings us success.
- Therrien also confirmed on Thursday that Bud Holloway will make his NHL debut on Friday night at the age of 27. He’ll skate alongside Paul Byron and Brian Flynn, who are looking forward to seeing what the rookie winger can bring to their line.
“He’s played a lot of professional hockey. He’s worked hard to get to this point and he’s definitely earned it, especially with the really good start he had in St. John’s this year,” said Flynn on his new linemate, who was first on the IceCaps and third in the AHL with 20 points in 18 games when he was called up. “From what I’ve seen, he sees the ice really well. He’s a smart player and he’s good offensively. Hopefully we’ll be able to contribute a little more offensively tonight.”
“We decided before we left for the trip that Alexei would come back into the lineup. He was feeling good, but we’ll continue to work with him and he’ll probably be back in the lineup on Saturday,” shared Therrien, whose team will head back to Montreal after the game to face the Devils on home ice on Saturday. “We have depth and we like to use that as much as possible. In Emelin’s case, he missed a lot of time and we’re playing three games in four nights. We have to manage his ice time.”
- Devils netminder Cory Schneider will get his second career start against the Canadiens on Friday night. He’ll be looking to add to New Jersey’s impressive start to the campaign, having racked up 23 points to date under rookie head coach John Hynes.
“This is a team that plays with a lot of energy and they’ll be one of the teams battling right to the end to earn a playoff spot,” said Therrien. “Games against teams like that are always difficult.”
- Puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m. at the Prudential Center. The game will be broadcast on RDS, Sportsnet East, 98.5FM, and TSN 690.
Game Preview: Canadiens vs Devils
The long game
Answering the call
- In Carey Price's absence, goaltender Dustin Tokarski was recalled from the AHL's St. John's IceCaps. It will mark the 26-year-old's second stint in Montreal this season. He didn't make any starts with the Canadiens while Price was previously sidelined with a lower-body injury, as Mike Condon was a mainstay between the pipes. Tokarski did come on in relief, though, as he was called into action to replace Condon in the game against the Colorado Avalanche on November 14. He gave up two goals on 13 shots against.
- The Canadiens also placed Alexander Semin on injured reserve, and recalled forward Christian Thomas from the IceCaps. In 18 games wtih Sylvain Lefebvre's squad this season, Thomas amassed seven goals and 14 points in 18 games. The 23-year-old left-winger ranks fourth in points on the IceCaps. He played 18 games with the Canadiens in 2014-15.
- Therrien confirmed that Mike Condon will get the start against the Devils. It will mark Condon’s 12th start of the season. The rookie netminders is now 7-2-2 in his NHL career, with a .916 save percentage and 2.16 goals-against average.
- Condon was the only goaltender on the ice on Thursday as the team has not yet called up a netminder from St. John’s.
Lines and defense pairings at practice
- Defenseman Jarred Tinordi was reassigned to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps for conditioning purposes on Thursday. He will join the team in Rochester where he should suit up to battle the Americans on November 27. The IceCaps will also be in action against the Toronto Marlies on November 28 and 29.
Tinordi still hasn't played a game with the Canadiens during the 2015-16 campaign as of yet. Last year, he split his time between the NHL and the AHL, playing 44 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs and 13 with Montreal, where he amassed two assists with the big club. Tinordi also registered seven points in 44 games with Hamilton, while putting up a minus-9 differential.
NEW YORK – The Habs will look to grab sole possession of the top spot in the East when they face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
- It’s been nearly a month and a half since the Habs and Rangers last met during the Canadiens’ 3-0 home opening win at the Bell Centre. In that span, both teams have continued their respective ascents to the top of the standings, now sitting tied at 24 points apiece with the potential to become the No. 1 team in the NHL with a crucial two points up for grabs at MSG. It may only be November hockey, but Max Pacioretty expects a playoff atmosphere when the teams hit the ice in Manhattan.
“Both teams have had a lot of success the last couple of years, this year especially, so this is set up to be a very entertaining game. They have a pretty similar system to us. They don’t give up much defensively while they have speed on the transition,” explained the Habs captain, whose team is facing a red-hot Rangers squad that has gone 9-1-0 in its last 10 games. “The two similar styles are going to clash and hopefully it’ll make for some good hockey tonight
“In the past couple of years with the playoff series between the two teams and a couple of great games, I do see it as a rivalry,” he added. “It’s maybe not one that’s recognized as much as Toronto or Boston, but I see it that way. It’s going to be a tight-checking, hard-nosed game.”
- In addition to the similar systems employed by the two Eastern powerhouses, both teams can also count on some equally elite netminding in the match up. With the reigning Vezina, Jennings, Ted Lindsay, and Hart Trophy winner between the pipes at one end of the ice, and the league’s current save percentage, goals-against, and wins leader at the other, Pacioretty has a few ideas when it comes to solving Henrik Lundqvist in the pending goaltending duel.
“Take away his eyes – the only way to beat him is if he doesn’t see it,” shared the 27-year-old sniper, who leads the team with 11 goals so far this season. “It seems like everything he’s seeing these days, he’s stopping. You have to get second and third chances against a goalie like that and just hope for the best.”
- After missing the last five games with a lower-body injury, Alexei Emelin will be making his return to action on Wednesday night in place of Greg Pateryn, who dished out 18 hits and finished with a plus-1 differential in those five games.
“Pateryn played really well in Emelin’s absence. I spoke to him this morning to explain my decision and he understood,” said Michel Therrien, who did not confirm if Emelin would slide back into his spot next to Jeff Petry or join Tom Gilbert on the blue line against the Rangers. “Emelin plays an important role on our back end. We have a lot of depth on defense so someone will always have to sit. Pateryn is a young defenseman who wants to establish himself in the NHL. When he got his opportunity, he did a great job.”
- Having been called up on Saturday in time to suit up for the Canadiens’ 4-2 win over the Islanders on Sunday, Sven Andrighetto will get his first taste of the Madison Square Garden crowd when he hits the ice for his second NHL game of the campaign. Impressed with the rookie winger’s performance in his 2015-16 debut, linemate Lars Eller is hoping to see more of the same from Andrighetto against the high-flying Rangers squad.
“It’s two teams who don’t give up a ton of scoring chances or a ton of goals. I expect it to be a difficult game, but I expect Sven to play the same way. We’re going to need his skating and his work ethic and his skill. We’re going to need to play the same way we did last game as a line,” stressed Eller of the trio that also includes Alex Galchenyuk. “He’s got a lot of skill and he’s a very smart player and he’s willing to work hard and compete. When you have that, it usually goes well.”
- Puck drop between the Habs and Rangers is slated for 7:00 p.m. EDT at Madison Square Garden. The game is available on RDS, SNO, SNE, 98.5FM, and TSN 690.
- Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Words from the room
General manager Marc Bergevin signs a multi-year contract extension
Game Preview: Canadiens @ Rangers