The Canadiens and Bruins meet for the second time this season, this time for a classic Saturday night matchup at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Although the Bruins struggled out of the gates to start the 2015-2016 season, the team is currently firing on all cylinders. Winners of seven of their last nine games, Boston heads into Montreal looking for redemption after losing the first game of the season against the Habs at TD Garden on October 10, 2015.
As captain Max Pacioretty urged, this is not a team the Canadiens can afford to take lightly.
“I think they are a difficult team to play against, they’ve just had a tough start to the year. They are definitely a hungry team right now and they are playing their best hockey of the season. It seems like all of their top players are playing at the top of their games. Boston is a very dangerous team to play against, so we have to show up ready to play,” explained Pacioretty, who has collected 12 goals and 11 assists in 27 career games against the Bruins.
Although the 2015-2016 version of the Boston Bruins is noticeably different from the lineups seen in recent years, the rivalry between the two teams has remained unchanged.
“They are still a team we don’t like and they don’t like us. It doesn’t matter what style they play,” said Pacioretty, who recently modelled the Canadiens’ new 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic jersey during its unveiling Friday afternoon.” I think we will see a faster paced game than we’ve seen in the past. They are trying to create more offense and use their speed up front. That’s a different style than we’ve typically seen from Boston. Maybe that’s why it took them a little while to get going, but they have found their groove and they are playing with confidence.
Getting his first taste of playing in the historic Boston-Montreal rivalry is Needham, Massachusetts native Mike Condon. The Habs’ rookie netminder, who currently leads the league with a sparkling goals against average of just 1.50, was confirmed by coach Therrien as Saturday night’s starter.
Asked if he’d given his goaltender any advice about the Habs-Bruins rivalry, P.K. Subban explained that until you experience it for yourself, it is hard to put into perspective.
“You know what? You can explain all you want before the game, but once the puck drops and the game starts, you can feel the energy in the building. So part of it is just experiencing it. It is one of the biggest rivalries in professional sports. There will not be a lack of motivation on either side tonight. I think everybody is going to be pretty pumped up for the game,” clarified Subban, who has seen his fair share of the Montreal-Boston matchup having played in 25 regular season games against the Bruins.
“For Condon, being from the Boston area it’s going to be pretty special for him. It is exciting for everybody. I’ve played against them many times but it always seems extra special. It is not about the players, it’s about the uniform. It doesn’t matter who is wearing the uniform as long as it is Boston-Montreal there is still going to be a rivalry.”
Coach Michel Therrien also noted that the Massachusetts native needs little motivation to get ready for Saturday night’s rivalry game.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a special game for him. He’s from Boston, as a young kid he saw what this rivalry is all about. I won’t have to sit down with him to explain it to him.”
The Canadiens would be wise to try and avoid trips to the penalty box against Boston, as the Bruins lethal power play is presently clicking at a league leading 35% as Boston has converted on 14 of their 40 opportunities with the man advantage this season.
“Well their top players are on the power play, and a guy like [David] Krejci is off on a whole new level this year. We know they have one of the best power plays in the league. Best way to defend against that is to stay out of the box,” advised Pacioretty, who has evidently take notice of Bruins’ David Krejci’s hot start to the season which has the Czech forward tied for 6th place in the NHL’s scoring race.
In the visitor’s camp, backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson is expected to get the start against the Canadiens. The 6’4 goaltender has won all three games he’s appeared in as a member of the Boston Bruins since joining the team this year.
Following the Habs’ morning skate at the Bell Centre, coach Michel Therrien confirmed that he will not make any lineup changes ahead of Saturday night’s game against the Bruins.
- A day after the Canadiens’ 4-1 home defeat of the New York Islanders, the team held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard Friday morning ahead of Saturday’s clash against the Bruins.
- As the Canadiens, winners of 12 of their first 15 games this season, were given an optional practice, only six players skated on the ice in Brossard including goaltenders Mike Condon and Dustin Tokarski. Joining them for practice were Jarred Tinordi, Alexander Semin, Tomas Plekanec and Tomas Fleischmann. The six skaters practiced drills led by coaches Dan Lacroix and Stephane Waite.
- Players absent from the optional practice are expected to hit the ice for practice Saturday morning, as coach Michel Therrien gave players the option of choosing to attend either one of the two sessions.
- Michel Therrien also confirmed that Mike Condon will face the Bruins on Saturday. The 25-year-old netminder, who still remains undefeated in his NHL career, will make his seventh start of the season. In addition, the Needham, Massachusetts native’s stellar performance has him currently leading the league in goals against average. With regards to goaltender Carey Price, coach Therrien revealed that the team will have more details about his health on Monday.
- Due to a last minute schedule change, the Canadiens morning skate will be held at the Bell Centre and will therefore not be open to the public.
- The St. John’s IceCaps announced on Friday that the team has partnered with RDS to broadcast 12 home games during the 2015-16 season. The first game will air on RDS on Friday, November 13, when the IceCaps welcome the Toronto Marlies to town.
- The Canadiens returned to the Bell Sports Complex Thursday morning to prepare for their matchup against the New York Islanders at the Bell Centre. Michel Therrien’s squad will look to rebound after suffering a 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators in their most recent contest Tuesday night.
- The Canadiens’ bench boss is not expected to make any lineup changes for the game against the Islanders. That means that forward Alexander Semin and defensemen Jarred Tinordi will likely once again be healthy scratches.
- With Carey Price sidelined due to injury, Mike Condon will make his fourth straight start between the pipes for the Canadiens. As Brendan Gallagher testified, Condon has been a source of composure for the Habs this season.
“He’s been huge for us. Just the composure he’s had stepping in, it is pretty special to watch right now. He’s making some big saves, and timely saves, saves at times in the game where we really need him to step up and he’s done that for us, explained Gallagher, who also recognized Condon’s determination to take full advantage of his time as the Habs’ starter with Carey Price on the shelf. “When guys go down, it is an old cliché in hockey, but it is really just an opportunity for guys to step up and I think he has really taken advantage of that. He’s played very well for us.”
Canadiens forward Paul Byron also chimed in, noting the similarities between the Canadiens’ technically sound goaltenders. “He kind of looks like Carey Price in there. If you take off the #9 and put in the #1 and you probably wouldn't even know the difference the last few games.”
- Expected to make his fifth appearance in a Habs’ uniform, Paul Byron spoke about the challenge that lies ahead against the Islanders.
“It’s going to be a test for us for sure. We know they have a good team. They play hard and they have lots of skill, so we are going to have to put our work boots on tonight and go to work,” offered Byron, who led the Canadiens with a team high 5 hits in Tuesday night’s overtime loss to the Senators.
- Having lost three of their previous four games, the Islanders will receive a much needed boost from the return of their captain John Tavares to the lineup. As Brendan Gallagher explains, the Canadiens will have to keep a close eye on the former first overall draft pick.
“He’s obviously one of the best players in the world, so we have to pay attention when he is on the ice and make it as tough as we can. You know he is going to make his plays but you have to make him work for everything. We can’t give him any easy shifts. But like I said he is one of the best players in the world so it is always a challenge, noted Gallagher, who is looking to add his name to the scoresheet against the Islanders after being held pointless in his last three games. “He’s their leader, and they will be excited to get him back. He is one of the best players in the world. Like I said earlier, we just have to play him hard. Make sure he has to work for everything. We just have to make it as difficult as possible.”
The hard-hitting Islanders - who currently lead the NHL with 36.5 hits a game - set a new NHL record registering 65 hits in their previous game against the Devils. Presently leading the charge is forward Matt Martin, who leads the NHL in hits with 65, which is eleven more than any other player in the league.
- Canadiens mobile defenseman Nathan Beaulieu noted that the Canadiens will have to rely on their speed to take the physical Islanders out their comfort zone.
“Speed is going to be the biggest thing. If a team is hitting too much, they might over hit and you just have to counter on offense. We’re a great skating team, so if we move our feet we should be fine. If they try to throw too many hits, there are going to be a lot odd man chances. That is basically our game, we will find a way to counter.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and CITYM
Probable lineup against the Islanders:
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Eller – Galchenyuk – Smith-Pelly
Fleischmann – Desharnais – Weise
Byron – Mitchell – Flynn
Emelin - Petry
Markov – Subban
Gilbert - Beaulieu
BROSSARD -- Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk has hooked up with Bauer and the Canadian Tire JumpStart Foundation to help kids in the Montreal community start playing hockey. By donating $50,000 worth of hockey equipment, Galchenyuk has helped create a bank of gear that children in the Montreal North, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and the Plateau-Mont-Royal neighborhoods can borrow in order to try out the sport and get into the game. Galchenyuk made the announcement on Wednesday surrounded by 40 local kids, who also had a chance to get a few autographs from the young sniper after watching the team practice in Brossard.
- After suffering a 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens got right back to work at practice in Brossard Wednesday morning.
- There were no changes made to the Canadiens lines at practice, as coach Michel Therrrien kept the formations from Tuesday night’s game against the Senators intact.
- Coach Therrien is not expected to make any lineup changes for Thursday night’s game against the Islanders at the Bell Centre. Mike Condon, who started the Canadiens’ two previous games, is confirmed to start against the Islanders.
Lines at practice:
- After a day off on Monday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex on Tuesday morning in preparation for their tilt against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre. Michel Therrien’s troops will be looking to remain undefeated on home ice, coming out on top in their five previous outings in front of the Bell Centre faithful.
- The Canadiens’ bench boss won’t be featuring any lineup changes on Tuesday night against Ottawa. That means that forward Alexander Semin and defensemen Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn will once again be healthy scratches.
- While Therrien announced that his lineup will remain unchanged, he did make several notable modifications to his lines during Sunday night’s tilt against Winnipeg that will carry over into Tuesday night’s contest.
“At the start of the second period on Sunday, we put Devo [Devante Smith-Pelly] with [Alex] Galchenyuk and [Lars] Eller. We’ll keep that going again tonight,” offered Therrien, before expanding upon the situation Semin now finds himself in as a healthy scratch for a fourth straight game. “It’s a long year. We like our line combinations right now. We like the speed and the chemistry. He’s a good player. I know it. The next time he’ll have a chance to play he’ll be able to follow the pace.”
- Ottawa native Paul Byron will be making his fourth straight appearance for the CH on Tuesday night. It will be particularly special for the 26-year-old winger who will not only be going up against his hometown team, but experiencing one of the Canadiens’ newest rivalries, too.
“This is kind of the rivalry right now. That’s what happens when you play each other a few times in the playoffs. You get those heated battles,” offered Byron, who boasts two short-handed goals on his resume in three previous outings with the Canadiens. “I’ve got a lot of friends and family back home that are Senators fans. I know they’ll be watching tonight, so I’ve got to have a good one.”
While some players might be disappointed with taking in the action from upstairs, that certainly wasn’t the case for Byron. The QMJHL grad made the most of his time as a healthy scratch through the first 10 games of the year, and he’s making it perfectly clear that it was nothing short of a positive experience, especially with a new team.
“I think the best thing that happened to me was sitting in the press box and letting myself get familiar with the team and get familiar with the players on the ice. I think if I maybe would have been thrown in right away, it would have been a little bit more difficult to adjust,” stressed Byron, who was claimed off waivers from the Calgary Flames on October 6. “Having that time to practice and really get a good feel for how this team does things, it certainly benefited me, for sure.”
Head coach Michel Therrien did everything conceivably possible to make Byron feel comfortable in his new hockey home, and the results simply speak for themselves.
“He was a part of all the team meetings. I wanted him to be there to learn the structure of our team. He also got to know his teammates,” mentioned Therrien. “When he hit the ice, he was in a better position to understand our structure. Eventually, it will become second nature for him.”
- Canadiens assigned defenseman Greg Pateryn to the AHL St. John's IceCaps for conditioning purposes.
- With Carey Price sidelined due to injury, Mike Condon will make his third straight start in goal on Tuesday night. Up to this point, Condon has given up just six goals in four starts while picking up four wins along the way. Still, Tuesday night’s outing will mark Condon’s second start against Ottawa, having paced the Canadiens to a 3-1 victory on October 11 at the Canadian Tire Centre.
“The guys feel really comfortable with Mike in goal. He’s aggressive and calm at the same time. He’s been playing well,” explained Therrien, referencing his goaltender’s impressive 1.50 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. “Carey is practically the best player in the NHL, so we definitely want him in goal. But, with the way Mike is playing, we still have confidence that we have a chance to win every game.”
- The Senators will be without the services of their leading point-getter, Mark Stone, on Tuesday night. He will be serving the first of a two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Detroit Red Wings forward Landon Ferraro during Ottawa's 5-3 loss on Saturday. Dave Cameron’s squad will, however, be welcoming back both Curtis Lazar and Mike Hoffman. The pair have been sidelined as of late due to injury.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS, Rogers Sportsnet and City Montreal.
Probable lineup against Ottawa:
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Eller – Galchenyuk – Smith-Pelly
Weise – Desharnais – Fleischmann
Byron – Mitchell – Flynn
Emelin - Petry
Markov – Subban
Gilbert - Beaulieu
Pateryn – Tinordi
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- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sunday morning, ahead of a rare Sunday night game against the visiting Winnipeg Jets. As the first team to reach double-digit wins this season, the Habs will already be looking to secure their 11th victory of 2015-16 when they end the weekend at the Bell Centre.
|The Canadiens skated in special purple practice jerseys as part of the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative.|
- Carey Price was absent from the morning practice. Currently suffering from a lower-body injury, the team announced on Sunday morning that Dustin Tokarski was recalled from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. Head coach Michel Therrien also announced following practice that Price will be sidelined for at least the team’s entire four-game homestand.
“It happened on Thursday, but it’s nothing major. He underwent treatment, and let us know on Friday morning that he was still feeling a bit of pain,” explained Therrien. “We didn’t want to take any chances, and our medical staff recommended yesterday that he takes a week off.”
- Rookie goaltender Mike Condon will therefore make his fourth start of the season, and first at the Bell Centre on Sunday. With three wins in as many starts and a 0.944 save percentage with a 1.67 goals against average to start his NHL career following Friday’s most recent win in Calgary, the Habs have every reason to believe the 25-year-old netminder keep that streak going, beginning against Winnipeg.
“You don’t have to say how important Price is to our team. He’s been our backbone game after game, but looking at the way Condo’s played this season we’ve got that same confidence playing in front of him,” admitted Brendan Gallagher, who has 10 points in 12 games so far this season, third-most among his teammates. “He’s going to come in and do the job. He’s a hard-working and very talented kid.”
The Habs have also been getting the job when Condon has been in goal, scoring a combined 16 goals over his three starts to date, to help ease the Needham, MA native into his new role.
“It’s a tough position to play. He has a lot of pressure on him, but he’s been flawless in every start so far. He’s made big saves for us, allowed us to get the lead, and given us the chance to play a comfortable style of hockey from there on out,” continued Gallagher. “He’s been great, and we expect nothing less from him tonight.”
- The Jets are off to a fast 7-3-1 start following the franchise’s first playoff appearance last spring since returning to the Manitoban capital in 2011.
Winnipeg native Dale Weise, who scored his first career NHL hat trick on Friday in Calgary, is expecting a tough test from his hometown team.
“I’ve watched a lot of their games, being from there obviously, and they’re a fast team. Their top line is on fire -- I know Wheeler had an eight-game point streak or something crazy like that -- so they’ve got some good offense, they’re a big team, they’re physical, they skate well, and they do a lot of good things,” underlined the 27-year-old. “We’re coming back from a road trip where we didn’t play very well to a team like Winnipeg that’s playing extremely well. We’ve got to get back to playing the right way. Calgary was a good first step for us and we’ll try to right the ship here tonight.”
- The Canadiens skated in special purple practice jerseys as part of the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. The cause is one Gallagher, whose grandfather Matt passed away with prostate cancer, holds close to heart.
“My grandpa is someone who meant a lot to me and my family growing up. Ever since his passing, I’m reminded of when this month comes along. It’s a time to remember what he meant to us, everything he taught us, and we’ll honor him, and others like him the best we can. It means a lot to myself and many others as well."
- Puck drop is scheduled is for 7:00 p.m. at the Bell Centre, on RDS and Sportsnet.
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|Goaltender Mike Condon gets the start in goal on Friday night against the Flames.
- Following the Canadiens' 4-3 loss to the Oilers on Thursday night, only some of the (extra) players practiced at 11:30 this morning at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary ahead of Friday night's Canadiens-Flames matchup.
- The team has confirmed that the only change to tonight's lineup will be in goal: Mike Condon will start his third career game in the NHL. In his first two starts, against the Senators and the Sabres, the backup goalie has maintained a record of 2-0-0, allowing 1.50 GAA with a save percentage of .947.
- After a day off on Wednesday, the Canadiens hit the ice on Thursday morning at Rexall Place in Edmonton in preparation for their tilt against the Oilers.
“I’m really excited to play. The team has been winning, and it’s been a lot of fun around here. You want to see your team win as much as you want to play. You just have to continue working hard. When your time comes, you have to be ready,” shared Byron, who boasts two goals and seven points in nine career games against Edmonton, the highest point-total he’s amassed against any NHL team. “I just want to help the team win another hockey game tonight. I think one off my skills and strengths has always been that I’m the kind of guy who can just jump in anywhere and anytime. For me, it’s just a mental challenge and I have to be smart and pay attention to the small details.”
Head coach Michel Therrien believes Byron will ultimately bring some good attributes to the table.
“The situation we’ve been in lately made it difficult to make lineup changes. Even if sometimes you might be a little less satisfied with certain guys, the time was right to get Paul in there,” explained Therrien, who will feature the 26-year-old winger on a line with Torrey Mitchell and Devante Smith-Pelly, while Brian Flynn will ply his trade alongside Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller. “I’m excited to see Paul play. There are a lot of things that I like about him. I’ve seen a lot of good things at practice. He’s very fast, good on the forecheck, and I think he’ll cause our opponents to make mistakes. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to get him in there.”
- Defenseman Jeff Petry will be playing his first game against his former team since joining the Canadiens at the trade deadline last March. Petry, who began his NHL career in Edmonton in 2010-11 and played 295 regular season games with the Oilers, is excited to be back in his old stomping groups. But, things are a little bit different this time around, of course.
“It’s definitely different coming in and going left to the visitors' room. I had a chance to catch up with some of the guys this morning and get that out of the way just to be ready to play here,” offered Petry, who put up 17 goals, 74 points and 139 penalty minutes during his time in Alberta. “Somebody brought it to my attention that not only is it the first time I’ll be playing against them, but it’s the last time I’ll be playing here in this building. It’s going to be a special night.”
- Thursday night’s contest will give the Canadiens a first-hand look at rookie sensation Connor McDavid, who has been lighting opponents up as of late. McDavid has five goals and 10 points in 10 games this season, and Therrien’s troops are well aware that keeping the Oilers’ No.97 in check will be a tall task.
“I’ve skated with him a couple of times this summer, so I know a little bit about him. He doesn’t know, but I’ve been taking notes during summer skates, so I’ve got a notepad on him. I’m going to sit with the D-men and share what I know,” cracked P.K. Subban, who has one goal and 10 points in 10 games during the 2015-16 campaign. “He’s dynamic. You can see it when you watch the highlights. He can make plays at top speed. Only a few players in the world can do that. You have to be prepared, as a defenseman, to transition and move your feet to keep up with him and to take away his options. To take away time and space from a guy who can make plays at top speed isn’t easy. It can be done, though. He has to continue to gain experience, so we’ve got to take advantage of that.”
- Coming off a tough outing in Vancouver, Carey Price will once again get the start in goal on Thursday night in Edmonton. Following the morning skate, Therrien confirmed that Mike Condon would be between the pipes on Friday night in Calgary against the Flames.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 9 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Rogers Sportsnet.
Probable lineup against Edmonton:
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