- After dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens were back at practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday afteroon. Michel Therrien’s troops will battle the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night in Montreal.
- The Canadiens’ bench boss featured a few changes on his forward lines at practice. Jacob De La Rose centered a line with Lars Eller and Christian Thomas, while Manny Malhotra lined up between Michael Bournival and Brandon Prust. For his part, Jiri Sekac took reps on the fourth line.
- Therrien ran his players through a rather intense workout on Friday. Battle drills along the boards were on the menu, as was plenty of skating.
- Canadiens prospect Zachary Fucale and the entire Quebec Remparts squad took in Friday’s practice session from the Bell Sports Complex stands.
- Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau skated on his own prior to the start of the formal practice session as he continues to recover from a concussion.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Eller-De La Rose-Thomas
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday ahead of their tilt against the Edmonton Oilers. Michel Therrien’s troops will be looking to pick up their fourth straight victory, while Todd Nelson’s contingent is coming off a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
- Prior to the start of practice, Sergei Gonchar hit the ice on his own along with a bucket of pucks. The 40-year-old rearguard worked on his slapshot and got his legs warmed up for about 15 minutes before returning to the locker room. Max Pacioretty did the same thing. Like Gonchar, he did not take part in the practice session.
- Sixteen players participated in the morning skate, including forwards Alex Galchenyuk, Jiri Sekac, Jacob De La Rose, Michaël Bournival, Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher, Brandon Prust, David Desharnais, Christian Thomas and Manny Malhotra. Defensemen Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, Mike Weaver, Nathan Beaulieu were also present, as were Carey Price and Dustin Tokarski.
- No lineup changes are expected for Thursday night’s game. That means that Manny Malhotra and Mike Weaver will likely be healthy scratches once again. Dustin Tokarski will make his 11th start of the season for the Canadiens. It will be the Watson, SK native’s second start of the year against the Oilers. Tokarski surrendered two goals on 18 shots in the Habs’ 3-0 loss to Edmonton on October 27 in Alberta.
- The Oilers enter Thursday night’s contest ranked 29th in the league with just 35 points in 55 games, four points clear of the last-place Buffalo Sabres. That doesn’t mean anything to the Canadiens, who aren’t about to take the likes of perennial scoring threats Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins lightly when the two teams meet for the second and final time during the regular season.
“We’ve got to remember that they’re a good hockey team. A record doesn’t always speak for how a team is. They’ve got a lot of skill and a lot of speed. They know what they’re doing and they’re doing it well as of late. It’s going to be a tough game. They’ve had our number, so it’s not going to be easy,” offered Nathan Beaulieu, referencing the Oilers’ convincing victory over the Canadiens earlier in the year.
The Canadiens haven’t forgotten about their back-to-back losses to a pair of sub-par squads earlier in the month, so coming out flat against Edmonton simply isn’t an option.
“Sometimes you can do that, but every team in the league is good,” mentioned Brandon Prust. “They’re going to be coming out and competing. We lost a couple last week [to Arizona and Buffalo], and maybe took our foot off the gas. I thought we did some good things in those games, but didn’t get the breaks. We need to create our own bounces against the Oilers.”
- It’s easy to forget that Alex Galchenyuk is just 21 years old today. He’s already accomplished so much at such a young age, racking up 93 points in 166 career games to date.
“I’m happy where I’m at right now. It’s my third year in the NHL and I’m just 21. I couldn’t have hoped for a better start. I know there’s still a lot to accomplish, but I like where I am,” stressed Galchenyuk, who is the top point-getter from the 2012 NHL Draft class with 23 more points than Oilers standout Nail Yakupov, who was selected first overall. “There’s always pressure when you’re a high pick. It was a great thing to be selected by Montreal. I’m really enjoying myself. ”
While Galchenyuk will undoubtedly be looking to light the lamp against the Oilers to celebrate his birthday, the Milwaukee, WI native will also be keeping an eye out for any pranks that his teammates might have in store prior to puck drop.
“I don’t know if the guys have something special planned like a cream pie or something like that. I’m not in on it,” offered Galchenyuk following the morning skate. “We’ll see what happens. The day is still pretty young.”
- After besting the Phiadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens returned to practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday morning. Michel Therrien’s troops will go in search of a fourth straight victory when they play host to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night in Montreal.
- Dustin Tokarski will get the start in goal for the Canadiens on Thursday night against Edmonton. It will be his 11th start of the season.
- In his post-practice press conference, Therrien indicated that Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau is making progress in his recovery from a concussion, but that the 31-year-old isn’t ready to return to practice as of yet.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Bournival-De La Rose-Thomas
- The Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday ahead of hosting the visiting Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre.
- Prior to the start of practice, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau skated with athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine. The 31-year-old forward, who has been sidelined with a concussion since January 16, also participated in some light contact drills. A timeline for Parenteau’s return however, remains unknown.
- Called up from Hamilton on February 5 for a second stint in Montreal, rookie forward Jacob De La Rose continues to make a case for a spot on the Canadiens roster. The 19-year-old Swede could play his fourth straight game with the big club on Tuesday, and head coach Michel Therrien has liked what he’s seen so far.
“He skates well. He’s always in position and his vision is good. Despite his young age he plays responsibly, which is rare,” praised the Habs’ bench boss. “It’s an encouraging sign for the future.”
“It’s getting better and better for me up here. I’m getting to know the guys, and getting comfortable with my linemates. I feel good,” underlined the six-foot-two, 190-pounder who has averaged 11:09 of ice time thus far into his burgeoning NHL career. “The players are a lot better than the minors. I need to stay focused every shift because anything can happen.”
- Defenseman Mike Weaver and forward Manny Malhotra remained on the ice with assistant coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault following practice, suggesting the two will sit out Tuesday’s game as scratches and leave Sunday’s lineup from Boston intact.
- Although 17 points separate Montreal and Philadelphia in the standings, the Canadiens are approaching Tuesday’s game like any other.
“Tonight’s game is an interesting one. The Flyers are in the middle of a late-season playoff push. They’ve got a lot of talented forwards and an excellent power play. We’ve got a tough test ahead of us versus a team which has been playing well as of late,” acknowledged Therrien of the Flyers, who despite being nine points out of the East’s final playoff spot, have won five of their last six.
Discipline will be key against a Philadelphia team which arrives in Montreal with a 23.7% power play efficiency, ranked third in the NHL. Fortunately, recently history suggests that shouldn’t be a problem for the Habs, who have taken just four penalties over their last four games, while staying out of the box entirely during a hard-fought win in Boston on Sunday.
“We need to stay disciplined and that’s something that we try to do. We always want to be aggressive, but there’s a fine line that exists between also being undisciplined. I think the guys have gone a good job of respecting that so far,” continued Therrien.
- Named the NHL’s third star of the week on the strength of a six-point haul over his past three games, David Desharnais addressed the news for the first time on Tuesday, crediting his teammates for the honor.
“It’s cool to be recognized, but a season is made up of highs and lows. We’re riding high right now,” explained the 28-year-old forward, whose nomination also earned him a collective team-wide stick tap prior to the start of practice.
“It’s a nice honor, and I’m happy for him,” added Therrien. “He’s a guy with a good attitude who always works hard. We’re all proud of him. He deserves it.”
- The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at the Bell Centre, live on Sportsnet East and RDS.
Offensive lines at practice
Weise – Desharnais – Pacioretty
Gallagher – Plekanec – Galchenyuk
Sekac – Eller – Prust
Bournival – Jacob De La Rose – Thomas
Forward Gabriel Dumont was reassigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Monday afternoon.
Dumont played three games with the Canadiens during his most recent stint in Montreal, registering four shots on goal before sitting out Sunday’s game in Boston as a healthy scratch in place of Michael Bournival.
In 40 games with the Bulldogs this season, the 24-year-old winger has registered 12 goals and 15 assists totaling 27 points, as well as 54 penalty minutes.
- The Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday ahead of hosting the visiting New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre.
- Absent from practice on Friday, Brandon Prust was back on the ice with his teammates on Saturday and should be in uniform against the Devils.
- Inactive since Tuesday, the Habs will have fresh legs opposite a Devils team which arrives in Montreal having hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs the night prior -- a fact the home team would like to take advantage of to snap a two-game slide.
“Obviously whenever you’re playing a back-to-back you’re going to be a little more tired, so it’s up to us to come out strong and make their night a long one. We lost our last two, so we want to get back on the right track to start our own two-game set this weekend,” underlined David Desharnais, who heads into Saturday's contest reunited with former linemate Max Pacioretty and Dale Weise.
Having seen his team score just six goals over the last four games, the personnel change comes as head coach Michel Therrien searches for a spark on offense.
“We had success in the past but eventually we became predictable,” admitted Pacioretty, who had been playing with Tomas Plekanec since mid-January. “Since we’ve been separated, Davey’s started taking more shots at net, which should make us less predictable. Plus Weise is a guy who can play on any line with success. He’s a guy everyone likes playing with, so Davey and I are looking forward to it tonight.”
- Despite the most recent pair of 3-2 losses to the Coyotes and Sabres, the Habs have only dropped three in a row in regulation time once this season, during the team’s early-December western American road trip. Keeping that stat intact will be a focal point for the team on Saturday.
“As soon as you lose you want to bounce back and that desire doubles when you lose two in a row. You don’t want to get into a streak because you can start developing some bad habits and the longer it goes on the harder it is to get out of. Snapping out of it tonight is all we’re focusing on,” assured forward Brendan Gallagher, who picked up an assist last Sunday against Arizona. “We’re not worrying about the past or how we played. We know that we can do better so it’s just a matter of going out there, playing one good game and coming away with points."
- Carey Price will face Keith Kinkaid in goal for a second time this season on Saturday. The two netminders went head-to-head previously on January 2 at the Prudential Center, a game Montreal won 4-2.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on TVA Sports and City Montreal.
Offensive lines and defensive pairings at practice:
De La Rose-Eller-Thomas
- The Canadiens were back at practice on Friday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard in preparation for their upcoming set of back-to-back games against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday and the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
- Brandon Prust did not take part in Friday’s on-ice session. The 30-year-old is out with the flu. In his post-practice press conference, head coach Michel Therrien indicated that Prust’s playing status remains uncertain.
- After being recalled from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs on Thursday night, forward Jacob De La Rose was at practice on Friday. He was featured on a line with Lars Eller and Christian Thomas.
- Therrien confirmed that Carey Price would get the start in goal against Devils on Saturday night.
- Following the practice session, the Canadiens skated and played a short game with the Conquérants des Basses Laurentides Pee Wee AAA squad, which will represent them at the upcoming Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
De La Rose-Eller-Dumont/Thomas
The Canadiens' 34th overall pick from the 2013 NHL Entry Draft has registered 11 points (6G-5A-11PTS) in 37 games with the Bulldogs this season. The Arvika, SE native also picked up four points in seven games while captaining Team Sweden at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
- After a day off on Wednesday, the Canadiens returned to practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning. Michel Therrien’s troops will be in action on Saturday night when they play host to the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre. Then, the squad will travel to Boston to battle the Bruins on Sunday night at TD Garden.
- The Canadiens announced that they’ve signed goaltender Mike Condon to a two-year contract extension for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. In 26 games with Hamilton this season, Condon has a record of 14-9-3 with a 2.10 goals-against average, a .931 save percentage and two shutouts.
- Desfenseman Tom Gilbert was the lone player who did not take part in Thursday’s on-ice session. The 32-year-old and his wife, Larissa, welcomed their first child, Henley Thomas Gilbert, earlier in the day.
- Players closed out practice working on battle drills in front of Carey Price.Lines and D pairings at practice:
- The Canadiens held a morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex on Tuesday ahead hosting the visiting Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre.
|Jacob De La Rose will make his NHL debut opposite the Sabres on Tuesday.|
- Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau skated alone in Brossard prior to the start of practice. The 31-year-old forward, who is currently sidelined with a concussion, worked out with team therapist Vincent Roof-Racine for a second day in a row before heading off the ice.
- Lars Eller, who left Sunday’s game during the second intermission with a lower body injury was back at practice on Tuesday after enjoying a day off on Monday.
Head coach Michel Therrien hinted during his pre-game press conference that if everything continues to go well this afternoon, Eller will dress against Buffalo. The Habs bench boss also confirmed that Gabriel Dumont would play a second game with the big club, but did not identify Tuesday’s scratches. Mike Weaver and Manny Malhotra, who stayed on the ice long after the end of practice, could however be in the press gallery opposite the Sabres.
- Called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Monday, Jacob De La Rose was at practice on Tuesday. The 19-year-old forward has played 37 games with the Bulldogs this season, registering six goals and five assists while going plus-7 over that span.
De La Rose, who also captained Sweden at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship will make his NHL debut on Tuesday, after skating with linemates Eller and Jiri Sekac at practice.
“I’m happy to be here,” acknowledged the Swedish center who arrived in North America this year. “There was a bit of an adjustment period at first, but I’m really happy with where my game is at now. I’m playing with a lot of confidence since the World Juniors. I had a good tournament and returned to Hamilton with a lot of confidence, which has paid off.”
The decision to start De La Rose on Tuesday isn’t a short-term one for Therrien.
“We like the way he’s progressed this season. He’s got the attributes of an NHL player. We want to see him continue to develop, and playing a game up here is part of that,” admitted the 51-year-old coach. “He’s had a pretty incredible year so far. First he went pro in the AHL, then he represented his country at the World Juniors, and now he’s going to play in the NHL.”
- A familiar face will be at the Bell Centre on Tuesday, as former Hab Josh Gorges is set to make his on-ice return in Montreal after missing the two teams’ previous meeting on November 28 with an injury.
“It was good to see Josh yesterday. We went out for steak in Old Montreal and we’re excited to play against each other. He’s a competitive guy and I’m eager to go up against him,” described Brendan Gallagher of his former teammate and housemate.
There’s no question Gorges meanwhile, just like Sabres teammate Brian Gionta, will have a little extra motivation when stepping back onto the Bell Centre ice.
“To not be racking up wins this season must be tough for a competitor like him. But he’s a professional, and I know he’ll give 100% no matter what the circumstances are,” continued Gallagher. “Every shift will be a battle against him. It’s going to be tough.”
- Coming off a surprise loss to the 27th-place Arizona Coyotes on Sunday, the Habs now prepare for another team looking to play spoiler for a third time this season.
Despite owning just a 14-33-3 record in 2014-15, the Sabres enter Tuesday’s game with a 2-0-1 advantage over the Habs – their last road win notably coming in a 4-3 shootout decision on November 29 at the Bell Centre.
With one final game between the two Atlantic Division rivals set to get underway, Montreal will have the opportunity to prove that Buffalo has not, in fact, had their number this season.
“That’s news to me,” offered Max Pacioretty, who is a plus-1 with one goal and 18 shots in three games against the Sabres this year. “But we just focus on ourselves – that’s what makes us successful for 60 minutes and that’s the only way we’ll win games. We can’t worry about outside noise or what team we’re playing.”
Although the Sabres hold just 31 points in the standings – 36 less than the Habs and 29 less than eighth-place Washington – Buffalo nevertheless arrives in Montreal with lots on the line.
“They have a lot to prove. Everyone over there is playing for contracts – playing to keep their jobs – so they’re definitely a hungry bunch,” added the 26-year-old forward. “When you’re playing a team like that, they’re going to be intense and if we don’t match that intensity we’re going to end up not winning the game. We’ve got to find a way to play a full 60 minutes and tonight’s a good opportunity to do that.”
With a division rival in the building, Tuesday will also be a good opportunity to gain some ground on the Eastern Conference leading Lightning while also separating from the rest of the pack.
“We can’t control what Tampa or Boston or anyone else does, but we can control what we do and hopefully we play well enough to get the two points at the end of the day.”