- After a well-deserved two-day break, the Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday. Michel Therrien’s troops will hit the road on Thursday, traveling to Buffalo where they’ll take on the Sabres at the First Niagara Center on Friday night. The Habs will go up against the Sabres again on Saturday night in Montreal.
- Michael Bournival hit the ice with athletic therapist Vincent-Roof Racine prior to the start of practice. The 22-year-old took part in light contact drills as he continued rehabbing his shoulder injury.
- Forward Eric Tangradi, who was called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Tuesday evening, took part in practice alongside his teammates on Wednesday.
- A total of 1,023 units of blood were collected on Tuesday at the Canadiens-evenko Blood Drive. That surpassed the objective of 750 units. Players and members of the coaching staff were on site at the Bell Centre to meet and interact with donors. The blood drive is the largest of its kind in Canada in 2014.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Sekac – Eller – Prust
Parenteau – Desharnais – Pacioretty
Gallagher – Plekanec – Galchenyuk
Weise – Malhotra – Tangradi
Gonchar – Emelin
Subban – Markov
Weaver – Allen
- The Canadiens had a day off on Monday after returning home late from New York.
- The Canadiens won't practice on Tuesday, with the players scheduled to attend the team's annual blood drive which takes place at the Bell Centre between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Click here for more information.
Charles Hudon has adjusted quickly to life in the American Hockey League. By registering three assists during the Hamilton Bulldogs’ tilt against the Toronto Marlies on November 23, the young centerman moved up the scoring chart to lead all AHL rookies in points. He boasts six goals and 12 assists on the year, in addition to a plus-11 differential. Hudon is playing stellar hockey in November, having picked up points in eight of 10 games played this month.
- Allen was skating with Mike Weaver on a defence pairing at practice. Michel Therrien confirmed Allen will play against Boston on Saturday night, and there is a possibility he will go with a lineup of seven defensemen.
|Mother & Son Family Photo|
“It’s a lot of fun. Last night we had a dinner with the guys and their moms and the staff. It was good to see how much it means to everyone and how important everyone’s moms were for them being in the position we’re in,” shared Gallagher, whose mother, Della, made the trip with him to Boston. “We got to enjoy seeing them seeing the behind the scenes of what we go through as players. We’ll be able to focus, though, because we know the importance of this game tonight. With them watching, it adds a little more excitement for them, but for us it doesn’t change the way we play.”
- Carey Price will get his 18th start of the season on Saturday night against the Bruins. Dustin Tokarski will be between the pipes on Sunday in New York.
- After registering a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues, the Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday morning before boarding a charter flight to Boston where they’ll battle the Bruins on Saturday night before taking on the Rangers in New York on Sunday.
- Prior to the start of practice, Michael Bournival skated alongside strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard to continue the rehab work on his injured shoulder.
- Eight players took to the ice on Friday, including forwards Manny Malhotra, Brandon Prust, Jiri Sekac, Drayson Bowman, Alex Galchenyuk and Dale Weise. Defenseman Tom Gilbert also took part in the on-ice session, as did goaltender Dustin Tokarski.
- Canadiens players and staff members will be making the trip to New York and Boston accompanied by their mothers and other family members as part of the team's Mother & Son Road Trip.
- The Canadiens bench boss also indicated that he will meet with newly acquired defenseman Bryan Allen on Friday evening in Boston, and a decision on his playing status will be made after that.
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex on Thursday morning.
|Drafted by the Blues in 2007, Lars Eller will face his former team for the fifth time on Thursday.|
- Any changes to the Canadiens roster will be game-time decisions, including the possible return of Mike Weaver, who hinted he may be back in time to face the Blues.
“It’s going day by day and I’ll be a game time decision tonight,” acknowledged Weaver, who missed Tuesday’s game against the Penguins with an upper body injury. “I’m getting close and obviously no one wants to be sitting out and watching. I’m trying to get back as soon as possible and we’ll see what happens tonight.”
Fortunately the Habs are in good hands according to the veteran blue liner, should his return to action be delayed.
“It’s great to have depth, especially with D-men. There’s a lot of bumping and grinding in the corners and blocking shots and stuff like that so obviously from time to time guys will get beat up and bruised. Having a guy who can go in there and run with seven D-men is nice. Everybody is ready to go.”
- Both the Habs and the Blues are coming off shutout losses heading into Thursday’s tilt, as the Canadiens saw a six-game winning streak snapped by the Penguins 4-0 on Tuesday while St. Louis was blanked 2-0 by Boston after rattling off a trio of consecutive wins against the Sabres, Predators and Capitals.
Nevertheless, the Habs already have their sights set on stringing together a couple more, starting on Thursday.
“[The key tonight] first of all, is putting Tuesday’s game behind us and moving on right away. We’ve got another great matchup ahead of us. This is a good team and a great test for us. I think we’ve just got to be better with the puck. We’ve got to get the puck moving north and get behind their D. I think that’s when we play our best; when we keep it as simple as possible and gets puck deep,” offered defenseman Tom Gilbert. “We put together a good streak of games but it always hurts after a loss, so we’ve got to start a new streak tonight.”
- Ranked first in the league for giveaways, the Blues will be a tough test for the Habs, who are ranked 28th after 20 games this season.
“It’s going to be a patient game. They’ll be waiting for turnovers so we’ll have to be good in the neutral zone and at getting pucks deep,” continued Gilbert, who is a +6 so far this year. “Turnovers will be huge tonight because they can capitalize on everything. Turnovers in this league usually end up in the back of the net so we’ve got to be better at that.”
Speaking firsthand from experience, former Blues draft pick Lars Eller agrees staying composed will be key against St. Louis.
“Obviously we’ve got to take their time and space away from them. The best way to play them is by keeping the puck amongst ourselves as much as we can and keeping it away from them as much as possible,” explained the 25-year-old center, who faces his former team for the fifth time on Thursday. “We’ve got to stay tight on them while also staying out of the box ourselves.”
- Receiving a Blues team which has allowed an average of just 1.89 goals against per game, the Canadiens will look to rediscover the scoring touch from the team’s most recent six-game winning streak, during which the Habs outscored their opponents 23-7.
“Playing for Hitchcock is definitely a system where you’re not going to allow too many chances against,” affirmed Max Pacioretty, whose five-game point streak was snapped against the Penguins. “They obviously have talent up front as well so if we let them get off to a good start it’s going to be tough to dig ourselves out of that hole.”
Making the most of every inch the Blues give up will be tantamount then for the Canadiens against a team which has allowed just 35 goals this season, tied for first in that category with Pittsburgh.
“I think over the last couple of years they’ve been a very tight defensive team,” noted Eller. “They’ve got a good system, they skate a lot, and they’re strong. There are a lot of good things you can say about them so we better capitalize on the opportunities we get tonight. They play simple and they’re just a really good overall team. They’re definitely a team we want to measure ourselves with.”
From the room
2015 NHL All-Star Fan Vote presented by SiriusXM opens today
Game Preview: Blues @ Canadiens
United in song
The next test
Learning in defeat
- After dropping a 4-0 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday ahead of their tilt against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night in Montreal.
- Michael Bournival skated on his own a few hours before practice got underway. He did not take part in the formal practice session.
- As players began taking to the ice, Mike Weaver headed for the secondary ice rink accompanied by strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard. Weaver sat out Tuesday night’s game against Pittsburgh with an upper-body injury. He is listed as day-to-day. Head coach Michel Therrien indicated that the Canadiens would not be making any call-ups as of yet.
- Therrien wasted little time putting his troops to work, engaging them in one-on-one passing drills to start the on-ice session. The Canadiens bench boss also put his troops through drills focused on pressuring the puck carrier to kick things off.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Zachary Fucale stopped 40 shots, including 22 in the third period alone, and Daniel Audette led his team on offense, to help the QMJHL squad best Russia in the fifth game of the Subway Super Series by a score of 3-1 in Bathurst.
Outshot by a 22-1 margin in the final frame, the QMJHL contingent stood tall courtesy of Fucale who didn’t allow a goal after Dmitry Yudin lit the lamp in the second period. The Canadiens prospect was named the player of the game for Team QMJHL.
The other Canadiens hopeful taking part in the tilt, Daniel Audette, scored the game-winning goal in the opening frame, in addition to adding an assist on his team’s first tally.
The Russians now lead the series 3-2. The final game will be played on Thursday night in Rimouski.
- After a day off on Monday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday morning ahead of their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre.
- Prior to the start of the morning skate, forward Michael Bournival hit the ice with athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine to continue his rehab work on a shoulder injury he sustained on November 5th in Buffalo against the Sabres.
- On Tuesday night, the Canadiens are going in search of a seventh straight victory. The last time the Habs registered a similar streak was back in 2006 when they picked up eight consecutive wins between March 23rd and April 6th.
“It’s a good challenge. We’re starting with the Penguins, and then we go up against the Blues on Thursday. They’re both quality teams. It gives us the opportunity to see where we stand in relation to them,” mentioned head coach Michel Therrien, who is pleased to see his group remain grounded amidst their current winning streak. “I don’t think our guys are getting too high. I get the sense that they want to keep improving and they know that there’s room for improvement, too. Every game presents a different challenge. What we’ve accomplished so far gives us a measure of added confidence heading into a game like this one. But, we want to keep getting better. It’s just so hard to win games in this league.”
- Therrien did not expand on any possible lineup changes on Tuesday morning, indicating that any and all changes would come around game time. Having fielded a lineup featuring seven defensemen over the last three games, the Canadiens bench boss insists his troops are perfectly at ease with the concept.
“Jean-Jacques [Daigneault] is doing excellent work when it comes to distributing ice time evenly. Certain defensemen are seeing their ice time go down, and we’re trying to share it as much as possible. That’s not a bad thing given the schedule we have right now,” offered Therrien, whose squad is averaging about one game every second day in the month of November. “We’re in a tough stretch and it’s important to distribute the workload amongst everybody.”
- Veteran rearguard Sergei Gonchar spent five seasons in a Penguins uniform over the course of his storied hockey career. The 20-year NHL veteran won his one and only Stanley Cup title with Pittsburgh back in 2009, so suiting up against his former club always brings back good memories. Nevertheless, Gonchar is adamant that when the puck drops, it’s all business.
“Playing against them is always special. I still have a lot of friends there. We won a Cup together, so it’s always going to be in my memory,” offered Gonchar, who has two assists in three games since donning the CH for the first time last Thursday night against Boston. “But, at the same time, it’s just a game when you step on the ice. You’re not really thinking about it. You’re just reacting to the game. It makes it special on one side, but on the other side, when you’re playing the game, you’re not really thinking about it.”
So, how does Gonchar suggest the Canadiens go about downing a Penguins club that has come out on top in nine of their last 10 games?
“They have the best power play in the league, so we have to be smart about penalties. I took a couple last game. I think I’m guilty of that,” explained Gonchar, referencing a Pittsburgh man advantage that has clicked 32.8 percent of the time on the season. “At the same time, we realize what we’re facing. They are so good, so we have to make sure that we’re skating out there, that there’s no hooking and grabbing and we’re playing up to the tempo of the game to make sure that we’re not taking any penalties.”
- The Canadiens’ current winning streak – and the manner in which Michel Therrien’s players have been securing those victories – is a good indication that the group, as a whole, has come together nicely since the start of the year. P.K. Subban believes a combination of things is ultimately responsible for the team’s success through 19 games.
“You have to understand that over the course of a season there are going to be ups and downs, both individually as players and as a team. You have to realize that and prepare for it. I think we’ve already had some downs and some ups. What you have to learn as a player in this league is to make sure that you’re staying at an even level and you’re not getting too high or too low,” confided Subban, who boasts five goals and 12 points on the year. “I think right now we’ve benefitted from our power play being great and a lot of attention is on that, but when I look at our team defense, I think we’ve done a great job on the penalty kill and at even-strength at clogging up the neutral zone. We’ve played some good teams, and our schedule really doesn’t get that much easier moving forward, but I think we’ve done a good job of playing sound defensive hockey. You don’t have that much success without playing good defense. We have to be prepared for whatever happens next, just to stick together as a team.”
- Two of the hottest goalies in the NHL should go head-to-head on Tuesday night. Carey Price, who was named the NHL’s second star of the week on Monday, should get the start in goal for the Canadiens. Price currently sits tied for league lead in wins with 11 on the year. The Penguins will likely counter with Marc-Andre Fleury, who is 7-1 in his last eight starts, registering a 1.71 goals-against average, a .937 save percentage and three shutouts during that span.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
Forward lines at the morning skate:
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Game Preview: Penguins @ Canadiens
Lehtera, Price and Forsberg named stars of the week
BROSSARD – The Canadiens held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex on Saturday, ahead of hosting the Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre in the first of a pair of back-to-back weekend games.
|Dale Weise addresses the media prior to Saturday`s game against the Flyers.
- Tomas Plekanec, Manny Malhotra, Alexei Emelin and P.K. Subban were absent from the morning skate, while Michael Bournival, currently sidelined with an injury, worked out alone with the team’s athletic therapists prior to the start of practice.
- Winners of a 4-3 shootout decision in Philadelphia the last time the two teams met – rallying back from a 3-0 deficit late in the third – the Canadiens nevertheless stressed the importance of quick start this time around.
“We’re a fast team, but so are they, and we didn’t like our start to the last game in Philly,” admitted Nathan Beaulieu, who could dress as a seventh defenseman against the Flyers. “It was 3-0 when we came back in the third, and we don’t want to have to do that again. We want to get out to a better start this time.”
While the Canadiens will play in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, the Flyers will wrap up a two-game set of their own in Montreal, providing the Habs with an additional opportunity to the usual home-ice advantage.
“It’s obviously huge and we know they played last night, so we’ve got to try to do what we can to jump on them early,” insisted Max Pacioretty, who scored a pair of goals against the Bruins on Thursday. “Obviously it’s a different game when we play in their building. A lot of teams struggle to dig themselves out of holes in our building, so we’ve got to jump on them early and hopefully take away some of their confidence, especially on the power play and on special teams right now.”
- Head coach Michel Therrien hasn’t revealed his roster against the Flyers yet, but Beaulieu is ready to pitch in in more ways than one should he get the call on Saturday.
“It’s not my bread and butter, but I’m not afaid to get physical,” added the burgeoning blue liner, who dropped the gloves with Matt Fraser during the second period on Thursday night to give his team a spark opposite the Bruins. “The game was on the line, so I picked my spot and luckily we gained momentum out of it. It’s not the main part of my game but hockey is a physical sport and you’ve got to be involved.”
Having also played as a forward against Boston, Beaulieu isn’t shy to chip in on offense, either.
“It’s something I hadn’t done before, but being in the course of the game, I was able to get into it. I was able to learn the system up front a little bit before the game, so getting a couple shifts out there was different, but it was also fun. When they threw me back there again, I knew what I was doing a little better, so it was a bit easier for me, but I’ll play any position they want me to.”
- With one of the highest scoring lines in the NHL in the building on Saturday, shutting down Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds could be a key to the game for the Canadiens. Voracek has registered seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points so far this season, while linemates Giroux and Simmonds have racked up 20 and 12 points, respectively.
“Simmonds is one of the best guys around the net in the league, Voracek has been hot recently, and Giroux is a superstar,” admitted Beaulieu. “That line is special and we’ll have to shut them down, but they’ve got a lot of depth, so it’s going to be a team effort.”
Fortunately, the Habs should be able to count on netminder Carey Price to handle one half of the workload.
“They’re going to get their chances no matter what so the best you can do is try to get rid of the second chances, since those are the ones that normally hurt you.” noted Dale Weise, who was the team’s first star on Thursday with a goal and an assist against the Bruins. “Price is going to stop the first one, so we’ve got to do a good job of clearing pucks and bodies for the second chances.
From the room
Game Preview: Flyers @ Canadiens
Owning the night
The Numbers Game - November 13, 2014