- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sunday morning ahead of hosting Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre.
- Twenty-three players elected to hit the ice for the game day skate which lasted just under 45 minutes.
- Michel Therrien confirmed following practice that no changes will be made to the lineup for Game 2.
- Despite dropping Game 1 in double-OT, the was a lot to like about the Habs’ effort on Friday. Out-shooting, out-hitting, and even out-drawing the Lightning in the face-off circle, the Habs’ bench boss insists that staying the course will be the key to getting back on track on Sunday.
“It was a close game, but we still generated a lot of offense in Game 1. We had 29 scoring chances, which is excellent, but we’re facing goaltenders who are playing at the top of their games,” underlined Therrien, who saw just one of his team’s 44 shots beat Ben Bishop on Friday. “The players executed the game plan well, generating offense while limiting the number of chances against us.”
Backed by their own hot goaltender, Carey Price made 33 saves to start the Round 2 series, while his teammates in front of him blocked another 34 shots from ever reaching the net.
“I thought we did a lot of good things offensively and defensively. We’re playing against a high-powered offense and we did a good job of clogging up the middle of the ice, especially in the neutral zone,” agreed defenseman Tom Gilbert, who absorbed three shots over 25:35 of ice time. “If one or two of those shots [which hit the post] went in it would have been a different game for us, so we’re just going to stick with what we’re doing.”
- Although winning Game 1 has historically given teams an edge in going on to win a best-of-seven series, the Canadiens insist now’s not the time to panic.
“We’re taking things one game at a time, and I mean that,” confirmed Therrien. “We know it’s an important game – there’s no doubt about that – but that doesn’t change our philosophy in the room.”
In the 44 times the Habs have dropped the opening game of the series, they’ve come back to tie things up in Game 2 exactly 50% of the time, an encouraging sign heading into Sunday’s matchup.
“That’s playoffs. I think every game is huge no matter what the scenario is,” added Dale Weise, who nearly scored the Game-1-winner in double-OT. “We’re going into this one like it’s Game 1. We played well on Friday and we want to come out with the same start, get a win, and tie the series.”
- The Canadiens are facing a dangerous Lightning squad which lit the lamp 21 times against Montreal over five games during the regular season, but nevertheless limited Tampa to just two goals on Friday.
“If we’re going to keep them to just two goals every game, then I think we’re doing a good job and are going to have a chance to win,” acknowledged Weise. “We’re going to score some goals soon, […] so we’re feeling good about tonight.”
While the Canadiens were able to keep Steven Stamkos off the scoreboard in Game 1, Tyler Johnson has been the Bolts’ hot hand this postseason, leading the NHL with seven playoff goals, including one on Friday.
“He’s been a hot player for them. We just have to take his time and space away. He sees the ice well, he’s fast, and he’s skilled,” concluded Gilbert. “We’ve got to be aware when he’s on the ice.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. EST in Montreal. The game will be broadcast on CBC and TVA Sports.
- The Canadiens held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday afternoon.
- Thirteen players elected to hit the ice for the on-ice session, including forwards Tomas Plekanec, Jacob De La Rose, Alex Galchenyuk, Devante Smith-Pelly, Brian Flynn and Manny Malhotra. Defensemen Mike Weaver, Greg Pateryn, Sergei Gonchar, Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban were also present, as were goaltenders Dustin Tokarski and Mike Condon.
- Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu skated with strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard prior to the start of practice. Beaulieu continues to recover from an upper-body injury sustained against the Ottawa Senators in Round 1.
- In his post-practice press conference, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that defenseman Jeff Petry is doing just fine after blocking a shot and returning to the locker room for a period of time in Game 1 on Friday night. He’ll be good to go for Game 2 on Sunday evening at the Bell Centre.
- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday morning ahead of contesting Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre.
- Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu hit the ice prior to the morning skate. He was accompanied by strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard and athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine. Beaulieu will miss at least the first four games against Tampa Bay as he continues to recover from an upper-body injury sustained in the series against Ottawa.
- After wrapping up their opening-round series against the Ottawa Senators in six games, Michel Therrien’s troops enjoyed some time off before getting back to work on the South Shore. It’s been four-plus days since the Canadiens went toe-to-toe with a playoff opponent, and it’s safe to say they’re chomping at the bit to resume their postseason run in front of the Bell Centre faithful.
“It took us a while to find out who we were going to play. Once we knew, we just wanted to drop the puck. On the other hand, I’m sure the Lightning are saying the same thing. It’s going to be an emotional series, a hard-fought series,” offered Brendan Gallagher, who scored the game-winning goal in the Canadiens’ series-clinching victory against Ottawa last Sunday night. “We’ll be doing the same things we’ve talked about all year long. If we don’t do it, we’ll probably end up on the losing side. If we do, I feel like we give ourselves a good chance to win.”
Committing to playing a sound game without the puck will be a top priority. The Canadiens paid close attention to the way in which the Detroit Red Wings went about their business in Round 1, making every effort to slow down a Lightning attack that is predicated on speed and hustle.
“I think Detroit showed how [to slow them down]. They did a good job. They were very, very tight on them. They didn’t give them a lot of space. Their defense gapped-up really ice,” explained Dale Weise, who sits tied for second on the team alongside Tomas Plekanec and Torrey Mitchell with a plus-3 differential through six playoff games. “The Lightning do have a lot of skill. They enter the zone with a lot of speed. I thought Detroit kind of took away their speed by gapping up, so we’ve got to find a way to do that.”
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau shared similar thoughts following the morning skate.
“Everyone will have to be good defensively. We know what kind of depth they’ve got up front. They’ve got three solid scoring lines and four lines that are capable of scoring goals. They’re a team that’s been dangerous all season,” mentioned Parenteau. “It will be up to us to play well defensively, just like we did all year. We’ll have to wait for our chances.”
- In addition to playing well defensively, the Canadiens are also going to have to find a way to get their power play going in Round 2. Therrien & Co. have spent the last couple of days tweaking the team’s power play units, making several personnel changes along the way. At Friday’s morning skate, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher formed one power play trio, while Lars Eller, David Desharnais and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau formed another.
“For one thing, I’d like to see us read the play better [on the power play]. You’ve got to accept what the other team gives you. You can’t force things. When you force plays, you put yourself in a tough spot. It starts with reading the play better and when you’ve got a good opportunity, you need to make good decisions,” mentioned Therrien, who paired P.K. Subban with Jeff Petry and Andrei Markov with Tom Gilbert during Friday’s power play practice session. “That increases your chances for success. Right now, our guys are forcing things. You get the sense that they’re a little bit tight, which is normal. They just have to avoid forcing things out there.”
For his part, Eller didn’t see much power play time in Round 1, hitting the ice for just 91 seconds while the Canadiens were up a man. He’ll likely see more responsibility in that department on Friday night, which suits the Dane just fine.
“I think I can bring a little bit of everything. I can play different positions. Tonight, my role is mostly going to be in front of the net. It’s going to be about trying to get in front of Bishop,” offered Eller, who scored a goal and added an assist in Round 1. “But, you’ve got to ready for anything. You’ve got to be ready to win puck battles along the boards. You’ve got to be able to make plays. But, I think I can contribute in many areas.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on CBC and TVA Sports.
Forward lines and D pairings at the morning skate:
De La Rose–Mitchell–Smith–Pelly
Words From The Room - May 1
Game Preview: Lightning @ Canadiens – Game 1
Round 2 playoff superstitions
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Lightning #1
- The Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning in preparation for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The series gets underway on Friday night at the Bell Centre.
- After missing Wednesday’s practice due to family reasons, defenseman Sergei Gonchar was back for Thursday’s on-ice session.
- Prior to the start of practice, the Canadiens worked on both the power play and penalty kill. The Habs struggled on special teams in Round 1, particularly with the man advantage, going 1-for-20 over the course of the six games they played against the Ottawa Senators. Therrien tweaked his power play somewhat, featuring P.K. Subban alongside Jeff Petry and Andrei Markov with Tom Gilbert at the blue line.
- Following practice, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu hit the ice with strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard and athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine. You'll recall that Beaulieu will miss the first four games of the series against Tampa Bay with an upper-body injury.
- For their part, the Lightning will arrive in Montreal later in the day after securing their series-clinching victory on Wednesday night in Tampa.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
De La Rose–Mitchell–Smith-Pelly
- After a two-day break, the Canadiens returned to practice on Wednesday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard to begin preparing for Round 2 of the playoffs, which will get underway on Friday night at the Bell Centre. The Habs’ opponent will be determined on Wednesday night as the Tampa Bay Lightning play host to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series at Amalie Arena.
- Prior to the start of practice, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu hit the ice with athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine. Beaulieu skated for approximately 30 minutes. The Strathroy, ON native hasn’t played since Game 3 against Ottawa on April 19. He has been sidelined with an upper-body injury.
- In his post-practice press conference, general manager Marc Bergevin confirmed that Beaulieu will miss at least the first four games in Round 2. He will then be re-evaluated to determine when he’ll be able to return to active duty. Bergevin also discussed his team’s performance in Round 1, in addition to addressing the play of his team’s defense corps.
- Defenseman Sergei Gonchar did not take part in Wednesday’s on-ice session. He missed practice due to family reasons.
- Zachary Fucale and the Quebec Remparts advanced to the QMJHL Finals on Tuesday night, downing the Moncton Wildcats 7-0 to sweep the series. The Remparts await the winner of the series between Rimouski and Val d’Or. You’ll recall that Fucale is assured of participating in the Memorial Cup as Quebec plays host to the tournament from May 21-31 at the Colisee Pepsi.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
De La Rose-Mitchell-Smith-Pelly
- The Canadiens held an earlier morning skate than usual at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata on Sunday ahead of their 6:00 p.m. game against the Senators. Dale Weise was the only player not on the ice for practice (therapy day).
- P-A Parenteau will return to action on Sunday night after missing the last four games. He sustained an upper body injury in Game 1 of the series and was a healthy scratch for Games 4 and 5. Michel Therrien did not confirm who Parenteau would be replacing in the lineup, but the 32-year-old winger knows no matter who he’s skating with, he’ll be counted on to bolster an offense that has managed just 10 goals through five playoff games thus far.
|Parenteau will be back in action on Sunday night.|
“I was patient and just wanted to be positive and stay with my teammates. I did that, and now it’s my chance to hop into the lineup tonight to help close the series,” explained Parenteau, who has three points in eight career postseason games. “I’m really excited for that. I think I’m known for my offense so I can help the team in that area. The team has been playing really well in these playoffs, so I was just waiting for my turn.”
While he refused to reveal his final lineup ahead of Game 6, Therrien was clear on what he expects to see from Parenteau on Sunday night.
“When he’s on the top of his game he’s got poise and he can help on the power play,” said Therrien, whose powerplay has connected just once on 19 opportunities so far in the postseason. “He can make good plays and he’s responsible at both ends of the ice.”
- In the three games he’s played since coming in to relieve Andrew Hammond between the pipes, Craig Anderson has stopped 120 of the 123 shots he’s faced, giving him an NHL-leading .976 save percentage in the first round. No stranger to staking himself out in the blue paint to help light the lamp, Brendan Gallagher doesn’t expect to be the only Hab finding himself inside Anderson’s personal space when the puck drops on Sunday night.
“Pucks haven’t been going in and it hasn’t been for a lack of effort or scoring chances, but we have to find ways to beat him,” described Gallagher, who is still searching for his first goal of the 2015 postseason. “He’s an experienced guy, he’s been around a lot, he’s feeling pretty confident and he’s feeling pretty good about himself right now, so it’s just getting as many pucks around him as possible and playing the odds. They’re doing a good job of pushing the rules and trying to box us out as early as possible, but it’s going to be important for us to get inside and continue to battle. It’s playoff hockey; it’s not going to be easy.”
Words from the room
Game preview: Canadiens @ Senators – Game 6
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #6
The Canadiens did not practice on Saturday. A few players and head coach Michel Therrien were made available to the media before the team left for Ottawa.
Therrien did not confirm any lineup changes ahead of Game 6.
The Habs will practice on Sunday morning at the Canadian Tire Centre in preparation for their game later that night. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. in the nation’s capital.
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday in preparation for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre. Michel Therrien’s troops lead the best-of-seven series 3-1.
- The Canadiens’ bench boss confirmed that the lineup featured in Game 4 would remain intact for Game 5.
- There’s been a trend in this series that the Canadiens would very much like to end on Friday night, especially with a spot in Round 2 just one victory away. During the first four games of the series, the Senators have scored first every time, forcing the CH to fight for an equalizer. While the Habs are clearly comfortable playing catch-up, it’s something they’d like to avoid in Game 5.
“Obviously, a good start is important. We’d rather score the first goal than be chasing. That being said, we’ve show in the past that we can play from behind as well. Whatever happens, happens, but we’d like to come out hard and set the tone in our own building,” offered Lars Eller, who has one goal in the series. “The only thing that exists in our mind is the game tonight. We’re in a good position. We’re where we want to be right now. We have another game to end it, and we want to end it tonight.”
In an effort to score that all-important opening goal, the Canadiens can certainly count on the support of the Bell Centre faithful, who will surely be fired up to give the home team their unwavering support in an effort to break things open early. Lighting the lamp first would be the perfect way to create a hostile environment for the opposition.
“It’s definitely a tough building to play in. I think our job now is to get the fans in the game and try and get Ottawa to lose some momentum that way. It’s obviously an advantage playing in front of our home crowd, but it’s only that way if we get them involved in the game,” stressed Max Pacioretty. “It’s important to play with energy early on. That’s one way we can do that.”
- Since Craig Anderson took over in goal for the Senators in Game 3, goals have been hard to come by on both sides. Both teams have combined to score just four goals over the last two games. While Anderson boasts a 0.93 goals-against average, Carey Price checks in at 1.67. It’s safe to say we’re likely in for another goaltending duel on Friday night.
“Both goaltenders have played excellent hockey. When you look at the last two games, we’ve managed to score two goals and the Senators have done the same. There haven’t been a lot of goals scored. When scoring chances have come up, the goalies have been good and they’ve made the saves. It’s been really tight hockey,” mentioned Therrien, who will give Price his eighth straight start between the pipes. “You have to give credit to both teams for their defensive play, particularly over the last two games. We have one win and so do they. It’s tight hockey.”
- The NHL released its list of finalists for the Selke Trophy on Wednesday night. While many people believed that Max Pacioretty or Tomas Plekanec might get the nod, that turned out not to be the case. Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Toews will ultimately vie for the award, which is presented to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
“Every team would like to see their players nominated. Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec are two players who take a lot of pride in their defensive play. They deserved to be there, but it’s the same thing for most teams,” explained Therrien. “We can’t criticize the selection of those three guys, but there could have been others nominated, too.”
In addition to scoring 37 goals during the regular season, Pacioretty was equally strong on defense, registering a plus-38 differential. That tied him for top spot in the League in that particular category. The 26-year-old has one goal during the current playoff run, finding the back of the net in his first outing of the postseason back in Game 2.
“All of our players have similar responsibilities. You have to be responsible on the ice, whether you’re on offense or defense, whether you have the puck or you don’t. You know that Max wants to score goals. He feels good when he scores,” offered Therrien, who has featured Pacioretty on a line with David Desharnais and Devante Smith-Pelly. “When he isn’t having success, he fights for it. The only pressure he should be feeling is making sure that he plays solid hockey, that he’s skating well and that he’s playing hard. Eventually, pucks are going to go in for him.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on CBC and TVA Sports.
Words From The Room - April 24
Game Preview: Senators @ Canadiens - Game 5
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #5
- After dropping a 1-0 decision to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night, the Canadiens held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday afternoon. Michel Therrien’s troops lead their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series 3-1. Game 5 will be played on Friday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
- Daniel Carr, Christian Thomas and Mike Condon, all of whom were recalled from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday, took part in Thursday’s on-ice session on the South Shore. They were among 14 players to hit the ice in preparation for Game 5.
- During his post-practice press conference, Therrien mentioned that he's been satisfied with his lineup as of late, suggesting that the Canadiens could field the same lineup for Game 5 that took to the ice for Game 4.
- Greg Pateryn, who left the ice during the third period on Wednesday night after colliding with Andrei Markov, was back at practice on Thursday. Pateryn sported a few stitches above his eye, but indicated that he'd be good to go for Game 5.
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata on Wednesday, ahead of Game 4 against the Sens.
- For a second year in a row, the Habs have the opportunity to sweep their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal opponents in four-straight, and they’ll be banking on that experience when the puck drops in the nation’s capital.
“We’re confident and loose in here, but we know how important this game is. When you have a team facing elimination, it’s the hardest one to win – we learned that last year,” described Dale Weise, who scored both Habs goals during Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win. “We wanted to close out Tampa last year and we want to get it done again tonight.”
Facing a team which has thrived under pressure during the final stretch of the season, recent history also highlights the importance of a quick finish on Wednesday.
“We saw what L.A. was able to do last year, and we don’t want to fall into a similar scenario,” continued the 26-year-old forward, who now sits second among his teammates for career game-winning goals in the playoffs with three. “It’s very important to get this win tonight.”
- Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will miss Game 4, and the rest of the first round series against Senators with an upper body injury. As first confimed by head coach Michel Therrien on Tuesday, Greg Pateryn will return to the lineup in Beaulieu’s place.
“Pateryn played well when we first called him up. He deserves to be there, and he deserves this chance,” acknowledged the Habs bench boss of the 24-year-old rearguard who played a career-high 17 games with the big club during the 2014-15 regular season. “We have confidence in him because he’s a powerful defenseman who skates well and is capable of making a good first pass.”
In the NHL’s most physical series this postseason – Montreal and Ottawa have combined to dish out a league-high 277 hits through three games so far – it’s no secret why Pateryn got the nod from his coach.
“I think I bring the physical element that we need,” confirmed the Sterling Heights, MI native. “Both teams have been battling physically, and I think that’s a pretty big aspect of my game that I pride myself on – being physical, but not taking stupid penalties. I’m looking forward to it tonight.”
- Joining Pateryn in the physicality department is Devante Smith-Pelly, who in his first postseason with the Habs, already leads the team with 14 hits.
“We need to match their energy and desperation. We don’t want to let them back into this series. They came out strong on Sunday, and should be even tougher tonight with the season on the line,” predicted the former Anaheim Duck, who scored five goals during the 2014 playoffs. “A physical game suits me well, because that’s how I play regardless. These are the types of games that are fun to be a part of.”
- Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron confirmed on Wednesday morning that Craig Anderson will get the start in goal opposite Carey Price for Game 4. Anderson made 47 saves for the Sens most recently in Sunday’s overtime loss.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET on TVA Sports and CBC.