- The Canadiens held an optional practice at Madison Square Garden on Thursday morning. With the exception of Brandon Prust, all players were on the ice. Michel Therrien confirmed Prust would be available to play on Thursday night, but wouldn’t tip his hat regarding his finalized Game 3 roster.
“It’s nice that you’re trying, but I’m only going to reveal my roster tonight. There could be some adjustments,” he said, hinting at the possibility of shaking things up for the first road game of the series.
- Wheeling Nailers goaltender Mike Condon made the trip to New York with the team but was not on the ice for practice. Carey Price (lower body) is also with the team, but for Therrien, the reasoning behind carrying four goalies in the postseason isn’t rocket science.
“It’s pretty simple: if something happens to our goalie, we need to put our third goalie on the bench,” he explained of bringing the ECHL netminder with him to the Big Apple. “We had the choice between Patrick Langlois, who is our assistant equipment manager, and Mike Condon, so…”
|Dustin Tokarski will once again get the start in Game 3.|
- As confirmed on Wednesday, Dustin Tokarski will get his second career NHL postseason start between the pipes on Thursday night, and will be looking to build on the 27-save performance from his playoff debut. While the 24-year-old is still getting his feet wet at the NHL level, this isn’t his first taste of high-stakes hockey, having won the Telus Cup in Midget, the Memorial Cup and World Junior Hockey Championships in Junior, and the Calder Cup in the AHL, helping inspire faith in the rookie netminder among his dressing room peers.
“We have a lot of confidence in him,” confirmed Max Pacioretty. “He’s a great goaltender. Recently I found out he’s had a lot of success at every level so that says a lot about his character and his personality. He didn’t look nervous at all in the last game, and in a situation like that you wouldn’t expect that. He looks confident to me and he played a great game. We need him to keep playing like that.”
- Having trailed the Boston Bruins before roaring back from a 3-2 series deficit to win the Conference semifinals in Game 7, the Canadiens have some experience with pulling off comeback wins this spring. While the storyline ahead of Game 3 may seem familiar to those who tuned in before Game 6 against the Bruins, Dale Weise insists there’s a big difference between facing elimination in Round 2 and facing an opportunity to make it a 2-1 series in Round 3.
|Weise endearing himself to opposing fans|
“This is a whole different ballpark than being down 3-2 in Boston, but we have to come out with that same urgency. When you’re down 3-2 in a series, you’re not panicking, but the urgency is there. We’re not there yet,” he stressed. “This is 2-0 and we’re a very capable team on the road.
“I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is, but we’re very comfortable playing on the road,” added Weise, whose team is 4-2-0 on road ice this postseason. “This is a great building to play in. The atmosphere is going to be amazing. We’re very confident and I really think we’re going to come out with a strong effort tonight.”
- Having scored just three goals in two games against the Rangers after potting 36 in 11 previous playoff games, the Canadiens will be looking to tip, jam and backdoor their way past Henrik Lundqvist in Game 3. Almost doubling their shot totals from 22 to 41 between Games 1 and 2, the Habs made sure the All-Star netminder was kept busy on Monday night, but Josh Gorges knows it will take more than just throwing extra rubber at the Rangers’ net to beat “King Henrik”.
“I said last game that if he sees it, he’s going to stop it. He’s that good,” stressed the veteran blue-liner. “We have to get in his face. We have to make him play deep in his net and make his life miserable and be there for second opportunities. It’s not easy to beat him one-on-one. We have to make his life more difficult.”
- Lighting the lamp more frequently will most likely coincide with the Canadiens rediscovering their previous power play magic. Going 10-for-38 with the man advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Habs entered the Conference finals riding a 26.3% power play efficiency, but have gone 0-for-7 so far against the Blueshirts. Getting his special teams back on track will be a big part of Therrien’s game plan heading into Game 3.
“We have to be better not just on our power play, but on our penalty kill, too,” said the Habs’ bench boss, whose PK unit has given up four goals on 10 Rangers’ power play opportunities after allowing just five power play markers in the first two series combined. “After the first two games, we know we need to be better to have success. We have to make some adjustments, but we also have to go back to basics and make better decisions. Our power play has to play with more intensity and on the penalty kill, we lost a lot of battles that let the Rangers take advantage of their opportunities.”
Puck drop at MSG is slated for 8:00 p.m. EDT.
Words from the room
Game 3 preview: MTL vs. NYR
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Rangers #3
A third edition for the Hockey de Rue – Together for the Kids Tournament
- After a day off on Tuesday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday morning before heading to New York where they’ll contest Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
- All players were present and accounted for at practice, hitting the ice well-ahead of the scheduled 11 a.m. start time.
- The Canadiens spent the early part of the practice session working on the power play under the watchful eye of head coach Michel Therrien, assistant coaches Clement Jodoin and Gerard Gallant, and goaltending coach Stephane Waite.
- Michel Therrien paired Alex Galchenyuk on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. For his part, Thomas Vanek skated alongside Brandon Prust and Daniel Briere, while Michael Bournival rotated on that line as well.
- Therrien confirmed that Dustin Tokarski will get the start in goal in Game 3 on Thursday night in New York.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- Daniel Briere, Dale Weise, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Carey Price were the only players not on the ice for the optional workout.
- Dustin Tokarski was in the net usually occupied by Carey Price at practice. Peter Budaj remained at his usual visiting side goal.
- After practice, coach Michel Therrien had some bad news to share with those present at the team training facility.
“Carey Price will not be available for Game 2, nor will he be able to play for the rest of the series against New York,” announced Therrien. Price had suffered a lower-body injury after being run into by the Rangers’ Chris Kreider in the second period of Game 1. “We are losing our best player, but we have faced adversity this year already.”
The Habs’ head coach did not announce who will start on Monday night, though he did say that his decision regarding the starter has already been made. In nets for the home team at the Bell Centre will either be dependable backup Peter Budaj, who is 10-8 on the season, or former AHL champion and World Junior gold medalist Dustin Tokarski.
- Assistant captain Josh Gorges gave his thoughts on what his team must do better in Game 2 against the Rangers.
“Systems are one thing. You have to be on the same page, but at this time of the year, it comes down to who wants it more in the battles in the corner and the battles in front of the net,” the defenseman added. “That’s what makes the difference. It’s a state of mind and we want to get back to that.”
- Like Gorges, veteran Mike Weaver believes that taking care of details can add up to a big swing in momentum in the series.
“I don’t think it was one thing which caused the Game 1 outcome. I think it was a lot of little things which added up to the final result,” offered the 36 year-old. “We’ve gone over it the last two days and focused on the things we’ve done right in the Boston series and the Tampa series. As long as we’re moving forward with that then we have a chance against New York.”
- Sniper Thomas Vanek figures to be a big part of the Habs’ offense going forward. The Austrian saw his team being outshot 28-22 in the series opener and will look to generate more scoring chances off the rush in Game 2.
“It’s an adjustment coming from the Bruins. The Rangers play a similar style as us, with a lot of quickness and puck movement. We didn’t do that in Game 1 and we have to get back to using our speed.”
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
Lars Eller, P.K. Subban, Tomas Plekanec, Josh Gorges and Carey Price did not participate, although Price was on earlier in the morning for a brief practice with goalie coach Stephane Waite. Michel Therrien warned journalists not to read into Price’s absence from the practice after he seemed to be hurt when Chris Kreider went barrelling into the netminder blades-first in Game 1, indicating that a few players took therapy days on Sunday and that the team would confirm on Monday if Price will start in Game 2.
Galchenyuk spent extra time on the ice after practice with Gerard Gallant working on his conditioning. He’s been cleared for contact, but as for whether or not he will be in the lineup in Game 2 against the Rangers, Therrien would only confirm that “there’s always a possibility.”
General manager Marc Bergevin met the media on Saturday afternoon ahead of Game 1 of the Eastern Conferece Finals between the Canadiens and Rangers at the Bell Centre.
Bergevin touched on a number of subjects during the media session, including several key player acquisitions over the course of the 2013-14 regular season campaign.
“There are players that get you in the playoffs, and players that get you through the playoffs,” offered Bergevin, noting the immediate impact that both Dale Weise and Mike Weaver had in the first two rounds of postseason play. “Dale and Mike are a big part of our success.”
As is head coach Michel Therrien, who Bergevin praised time and again for helping the Canadiens through several difficult stretches at different times during the year.
"Michel Therrien was a good coach six months ago, and he was good even when we lost five games in a row,” explained Bergevin, stressing that he has the utmost respect for the veteran bench boss’ body of work over the last two seasons in Montreal.
After praising his team for their unwavering work ethic and relentlessness in the face of adversity, Bergevin went on to express his admiration for the Canadiens fan base.
“I see a special team here, a team that when times are tough rolls up their sleeves and goes straight to work. I’m proud of this group,” indicated Bergevin, noting that he believes the turning point in the Canadiens’ season came on Mar. 15 when they staged a comeback for the ages over the Senators in Montreal. “The passion in this city and in the province of Quebec is off the charts. It’s incredible. The people live and breathe hockey.”
With a tough playoff series set to get underway against New York, the Habs GM also shared his thoughts on the Canadiens’ next opponent.
“We have a lot of respect for the Rangers. They want the same thing we do,” offered Bergevin. “I believe our guys are ready for this series because we’re aware of the challenge ahead of us.”
- After a well-deserved day off on Thursday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard in preparation for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Finals series against the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre.
- Alex Galchenyuk skated alongside his teammates once again on Friday. He took part in drills as a member of the fifth line with George Parros, Travis Moen and Ryan White. After practice, the 20-year-old confirmed that he had been cleared for contact by team doctors.
- Head coach Michel Therrien ran his troops through a fast-paced practice session, focusing a lot of time on breakouts and odd-man rush situations.
- For their part, the Rangers practiced in New York on Friday morning before flying to Montreal for the series-opener on Saturday.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at TD Garden ahead of Game 7 against the Bruins on Wednesday night. All players were on the ice, with the exception of Carey Price, Alexei Emelin and P.K. Subban.
- Alex Galchenyuk participated in his first full practice with the team since suffering a lower body injury on April 9 against the Blackhawks. He was wearing a blue non-contact jersey on Wednesday morning.
- Eight Habs could play in their first career Game 7s on Wednesday night, including Nathan Beaulieu, Michael Bournival, Rene Bourque, David Desharnais, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Dale Weise and Emelin. Captain Brian Gionta leads the Canadiens in the rubber match experience department, having racked up four points in six career Game 7s.
- After being forced to watch the team’s most recent Game 7 in Boston in 2011 from the sidelines while recovering from a knee injury, Josh Gorges has won all three Game 7s he’s taken part in during his career and he can’t wait to put that undefeated record on the line on Wednesday night.
|Rock the Sweater|
“Any time you get to a Game 7, the excitement of it never goes away. It’s a game you want to be in. You want to be playing this game. You want to be a guy that contributes and helps the team get this win,” shared Gorges, who helped lead the Habs to victory in Game 7 against the Bruins in 2008 and the Capitals and Penguins in 2010. “We’re excited as a group about the challenge tonight. It’s going to be a hard-fought game and it’s going to take everything we’ve got from every player we’ve got in this room.”
- Game 7s between the Bruins and Habs have become a regular occurrence in the springtime, with the two teams set to face off in a seventh game in a best-of-seven series for the ninth time in NHL history. Montreal has gotten the better of Boston in those games historically, carrying a 5-3 record into the 2014 edition of the postseason Game 7 matchup.
“This is what we play the game for. Both teams are in a do-or-die situation and you’ve got two teams that have been bitter rivals for years,” described the Canadiens’ assistant captain. “Neither team wants to go home and neither team wants their season to end, so you get the best of both teams. It’s going to be a tough game, but it’s going to be a lot of fun to be a part of.”
- Despite being hours away from taking part in his first Game 7 from behind the bench, Michel Therrien isn’t battling butterflies heading into Wednesday’s game. After watching his troops respond to adversity with a convincing 4-0 win in Game 6 to tie the series, the coach knows what to expect from his team heading into TD Garden.
“I’m excited and I’m looking forward to tonight’s game. We had the same mindset before the last game that we do now,” he confirmed. “We have a good attitude and I can see great chemistry with our players. I saw them yesterday and again this morning and they have a great attitude.”
- No one in the Habs dressing room stepped up his game on Monday night to help stave off elimination more than Carey Price, who recorded his first shutout of the 2014 postseason in Game 6. Carrying a 1-1 record in previous Game 7s – including a stellar 1.91 goals-against average and .932 save percentage – into Wednesday’s game, the All-Star netminder has been leading by example throughout the playoffs and his head coach expects that trend to continue on Wednesday night.
“He sent a message in the last game with the way he played. He’s a leader on this team and he was a leader for Team Canada when he won the gold medal,” stressed Therrien on the 2014 Olympic champ, who has a .922 save percentage through 10 games in the 2014 Playoffs. “When the players see that, it gives everyone confidence. I think the message he has to send has already been sent. For us, Monday was a Game 7 and we’ll carry that experience with us.”
- The Canadiens may be facing the Bruins in Game 7 nearly 500 km away from home, but they won’t be without the support of the Bell Centre faithful when the puck drops in Boston. Opening the doors for a special viewing party back home, the organization will welcome a full house to watch the game on the Bell Centre scoreboard after selling out tickets to the event a few hours after they went on sale on Tuesday afternoon, with all proceeds benefitting the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
“I guess it shouldn’t surprise me but it kind of does a little bit,” admitted Gallagher of the team’s ability to pack the building to watch the Habs play on TV. “That’s what you get with the Montreal Canadiens. You get the passion from the fans and it feeds us as players. Obviously we put a lot of importance on this game and so do they. Hopefully we can put on a good show. You have to really play like it’s your last shift and like there’s no tomorrow. You just have to work as hard as you can. It sounds simple, but if you go out and do that every shift you give yourself a good chance to win.”
BROSSARD – On Tuesday morning, a few Canadiens players took part in a morning practice at the Bell Sports Complex before flying to Boston.
- Alex Galchenyuk skated with his teammates for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury in the final month of the regular season. He wore a white non-contact jersey. After practice, coach Michel Therrien indicated that Galchenyuk is making progress toward a return but will not take part in Game 7.
- In addition to Carey Price and Peter Budaj, nine skaters took part in practice. Forwards on the ice were Galchenyuk, Ryan White, George Parros, Michael Bournival and Travis Moen. On defense were Douglas Murray, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi and Francis Bouillon. They were led in drills by assistant coach Gerard Gallant.
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday in preparation for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins at the Bell Centre.
- Alex Galchenyuk skated prior to the start of practice alongside Canadiens strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard.
- In his post-practice press conference on Monday morning, head coach Michel Therrien didn’t indicate whether or not he’d make any lineup changes heading into Game 6 against the Bruins. As per usual, the Canadiens bench boss kept that information close to the vest, stressing the fact that he felt no pressure whatsoever to tinker with a lineup that has responded well to adversity all season long, regardless of which players ultimately took to the ice come game time.
That being said, Therrien insists matching up against the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners in a do-or-die scenario offers up a fascinating test for coaches and players alike.
|RAW: Michel Therrien|
“I see it rather as a good challenge. We all understand the importance of tonight’s game. The fact that we’re playing Game 6 at home against one of the league’s powerhouse teams presents an interesting challenge for this group,” offered Therrien, who last coached in a Game 6 situation during the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals when he was behind the bench in Pittsburgh.
“That’s what I sense from my players, too,” added Therrien, whose Penguins squad ultimately lost that particular game by a 3-2 margin as the Red Wings hoisted the Stanley Cup at Mellon Arena in Western Pennsylvania. “We’re looking forward to tonight’s game. We have to have the right attitude heading into a game like this. After speaking with the guys yesterday and today, I sense that they’re right there.”
- Many players inside the Canadiens locker room aren’t strangers to the situation they find themselves in with Game 6 just hours away. Back in 2011, Tomas Plekanec was part of a squad that staved off elimination at the hands of the Bruins down 3-2 in the series with a must-win Game 6 at the Bell Centre.
With memories of the Canadiens’ 2-1 victory on that night in mind, the veteran centerman believes there’s a clear cut way to come out on top in these types of situations.
“There’s no secret but to have a good game. We have to go right at them from the start. We’ve got to play our game and use our speed,” underlined Plekanec, who has three goals and seven points in nine postseason games in 2014. “It was really close the last time that we played against them in the playoffs. We lost in overtime in Game 7 and we were right there. We just need to focus on tonight’s game. We can’t start thinking about Game 7 now. We have to focus on having a good start tonight and we’ll go from there.”
- Like Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher will draw on past experience when he takes to the ice against the Bruins on Monday night to contest the first Game 6 of his NHL career.
“I think back to similar experiences I’ve had back in Junior. I’ve been in the exact same situation where we’ve been down 3-2 and came back and won a series. It’s certainly not impossible,” offered the 22-year-old right-winger, who sits tied for the team lead with Rene Bourque and P.K. Subban with four goals this postseason. “It’s certainly a tough task as well, but at the same time you’re not worrying about two games, you’re worrying about one game. If you take care of one game, the whole situation is different. But, you’ve got to show up and make sure you play your best game tonight.
“We need to come out and we need to be the hungrier team,” added Gallagher. “We need to be desperate, but at the same time we need to focus in on all the little details that got us to this point.”
Words From The Room - May 12
Game 6 preview: MTL vs. BOS
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Bruins #6
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sunday afternoon in preparation for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins on Monday night at the Bell Centre.
- Alex Galchenyuk took to the ice prior to the start of practice, with his workout consisting primarily of skating, mobility and puck handling drills.
- Thirteen players hit the ice on Sunday afternoon under the watchful eyes of assistant coach Gerard Gallant and goaltending coach Stephane Waite, including forwards Daniel Briere, Travis Moen, Ryan White, Brandon Prust, Michael Bournival and George Parros. Defensemen Douglas Murray, Nathan Beaulieu, Mike Weaver, Francis Bouillon and Jarred Tinordi were also on the ice, as were goaltenders Carey Price and Peter Budaj.