- 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.”
The Canadiens called up Jacob De La Rose from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Monday afternoon. The 19-year-old forward should join the team at practice in Brossard on Tuesday.
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.
Head coach Michel Therrien has not confirmed whether De La Rose will suit up opposite the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
- After blanking the New York Rangers 1-0 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, the Canadiens were back at practice on Friday afternoon at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard in preparation for a set of back-to-back tilts against the Washington Capitals and the Arizona Coyotes over the weekend at the Bell Centre. Michel Therrien’s troops have won four straight games.
- All players were present and accounted for at practice, except for Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau who remains sidelined with an upper-body injury.
- Therrien confirmed that Carey Price would get the start in goal against the Capitals on Saturday afternoon. It will be his 39th start of the season. The Canadiens' bench boss did not confirm which goaltender would get the call on Sunday.
- The Canadiens confirmed that defenseman Magnus Nygren will return to Sweden to continue recovering from a concussion he suffered back on November 29. Nygren, who is currently a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs, has missed the last 23 games due to injury.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Defenseman Magnus Nygren will return to Sweden to continue his recovery from a concussion he suffered back on November 29.
“Following discussions with Magnus and his agent, we made the decision to give him the opportunity to return to his native Sweden to recover from his injury,” offered Hamilton Bulldogs general manager, Marc Bergevin. “Aware that his concussion symptoms have persisted, the organization and our medical personnel believe that the best option for his recovery is to get away from the game and rest at home in Sweden surrounded by his family and friends. We will continue to monitor his condition.”
Nygren has missed Hamilton’s last 23 games.
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at Madison Square Garden on Thursday in preparation for the evening’s game against the New York Rangers.
- Gabriel Dumont, called up from Hamilton on Tuesday, was on the ice with his teammates in New York but will be a healthy scratch against the Rangers.
- Defenseman Mike Weaver will also sit out a third game in a row, as head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Tuesday’s lineup against the Stars will remain intact on Thursday at MSG.
- Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau did not make the trip to New York. The 31-year-old winger has been sidelined with a concussion over the last three games.
- Having now scored eight power play goals in the last five games, the Canadiens are currently enjoying success from a power play unit which continues to click following a slow start to the season.
“We needed the power play to be better and lately it has been,” admitted Brendan Gallagher, who capitalized on the man advantage on Tuesday against Dallas to score his 12th goal of the season. “It’s been a big reason why we’re winning games – we’ve been getting big power play goals, timely power play goals – but we know it can go the other way just as quickly. It’s going to be important for us to continue doing what we’re doing which is keeping it simple and getting traffic and pucks at the net.”
Despite the recent success for a team which at one point went without a power play goal over a ten game stretch from October 21 to November 11, the Habs aren’t about to put all their pucks in one basket, preferring to still keep in mind the importance of a balanced attack.
“It’s always just a matter of time before things finally click, and right now we’re hot,” explained forward David Desharnais, who has racked up 17 special teams points this season. “We might not be able to maintain a 30 or 40% power play efficiency forever, but the important thing is to find a way to stay productive every game regardless.”
- Winners of a 3-1 decision over the Rangers at the Bell Centre in October, the Habs have nevertheless struggled when on the road in the Big Apple recently, having seen their season end at MSG last spring before later being blanked 5-0 during their first trip back this November.
“Last time we came in here on the moms trip we put up a poor showing, and we also weren’t happy with the result that we had in this building at the end of the playoffs last year,” acknowledged Max Pacioretty, a native of New Canaan, CT, located just over an hour outside of Manhattan. “Sometimes as a player you want to feel comfortable in certain buildings and this is one where we feel like we might have to turn the page and start over. Tonight’s a good chance for that because going down the road we’re going to see this team a lot being in the same conference and potentially meeting again in the playoffs in the future, so it’s important for us to feel comfortable here.”
- Goaltender Carey Price will get the the start against the Rangers and the Habs will be hoping to lessen Price’s workload in New York after allowing 42 shots on goal against the Stars on Tuesday. With an average of 30.2 shots per game this season, the Rangers are currently ranked 12th league-wide when it comes to putting pucks on net, while also coming off a 41-shot performance against the rival Islanders on Tuesday.
“We can’t keep counting on Carey to bail us out. We know he’s a big part of our success this season, be we can’t keep giving up 40 shots per game,” offered Therrien in regards to his all-star netminder who has allowed just three goals over the last 79 shots he’s faced. “We’re playing against a team that gets a lot of shots, so it’s going to be a challenge for us tonight. Even though they didn’t win their last game, they were still able to put up 40-plus shots against a good Islanders team. They’re aggressive with the puck and a tough team to play against.”
- Thursday’s game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. star on RDS and Sportsnet.
- After registering their third straight victory – a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night – the Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday morning before departing for New York where they’ll battle the Rangers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.
- Head coach Michel Therrien gave goaltender Carey Price the day off from practice. Price registered his 25th win of the season on Tuesday night in a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars at the Bell Centre. His 40-save performance earned him first-star honours once again.
- All other players were present and accounted for at practice, except for Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau who remains sidelined with an upper-body injury. Forward Gabriel Dumont, who was recalled from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs on Tuesday night, took part in the on-ice session ahead of the trip to New York.
- Dumont practiced on the Canadiens’ fourth line, alternating with Christian Thomas. Michel Therrien indicated that he has yet to decide whether or not the 24-year-old will be in the lineup against the Rangers.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- The Canadiens held a full game day skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday. Michel Therrien’s troops will be looking for a third straight win in their first game back from the All-Star break, while the visiting Dallas Stars will be hoping to bounce back from a 3-1 loss to the Bruins a week ago.
- Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, currently sidelined with a concussion, was the only player absent from practice. The 31-year-old forward suffered the initial injury back on January 2 in New Jersey, but returned to the lineup on January 14-15 in Columbus and Ottawa, respectively. Most recently, however, he has missed a pair of games against the Islanders and Predators.
- Goaltender Carey Price was back on the ice on Tuesday morning after missing practice on Monday due to a delayed flight back from All-Star Weekend in Columbus. Price will make his ninth career start against the Stars.
- While the Canadiens had trouble finding the back of the net with the man advantage over the first half of the season, the struggling special teams unit has turned its fortunes around more recently, scoring seven power play goals over the last four games for a power play efficiency of 33%.
“I don’t know if we’re doing things differently. Sometimes it’s really just about confidence and luck. We’ve always been able to score timely goals on the power play when we’ve had to,” explained Subban, who nevertheless praised the recent work of his partner on the blue line, Andrei Markov.
“He makes a big difference when he’s on the ice, especially with all the experience he has on the power play. He knows where to put the puck and how quickly to pass it,” added Subban, who’s seen Markov rack up five power play assists over the last four games. “He can often be the difference between getting a scoring chance and scoring a goal.”
- One of the stingiest teams on defense this season, allowing just 2.33 goals per game, the Canadiens will be put to the test against one of the NHL’s top-scoring teams as the Stars arrive in Montreal with an average of 3.09 goals scored per game.
“The entire league is extremely competitive right now and the standings are tight. One game can change your season. They’re going to come in fighting and we’re ready for that. They’re a team that scores a lot of goals, so we’re expecting a challenge,” acknowledged defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, who will take on a familiar face in Tyler Seguin on Tuesday.
“I played against him a bit when we were younger. He was playing in Toronto which wasn’t very far from me. He’s a great player who’s enjoying a career season,” underlined Beaulieu of the league’s top scorer with 28 goals so far this season. “He’s fast and he's got a good shot. We’ll need to take his time and space away from him tonight.”
- Rookie Jiri Sekac was also back at practice for the first time this week following his participation in Saturday’s NHL Skills Competition in Columbus. Although he arrived back in Montreal later than expected, the 22-year-old winger was still soaking in his All-Star experience.
“It was a lot of fun. It was a great experience for me and I really enjoyed being around those guys. I’m happy that I was able to be there,” admitted Sekac, who finished sixth overall in the Fastest Skater race.
“The mood there, both on and off the ice, was amazing. Everyone there has a bright future and they know it. When you see how they prepare for games and what they can do on the ice, it’s amazing. It’s not the kind of stuff you see every day,” added the six-foot-two, 195-pound forward who has registered seven goals and eight assists over 38 games so far this season.
While Sekac’s road to the All-Star Weekend may have taken him all the way to Ohio and back, it was a player from closer to home who impressed the Kladno, CZ native most at the league event.
“My friend Jay [Jakub Voracek] has become really good over the last couple of months. He’s an amazing player,” praised Sekac of his Czech countryman. “He’s big, he’s strong on the puck, and he's a great skater – he was one of the best players there.”
The biggest takeaway for Sekac, however, comes in the form of the added boost of confidence the former KHLer now returns to Montreal with just in time for the second half of the season.
“It was huge for me. If someone told me last summer that I would be an NHL All-Star I would have laughed. It was a great feeling for me because a couple of months ago I didn’t even know if I would make the team, so having success this season has been a huge thing for me.”
Forward lines at practice
Bournival – Malhotra - Thomas
Weise – Plekanec – Pacioretty
Galchenyuk – Desharnais – Gallagher
Prust – Eller – Sekac
Canadiens prospect Charles Hudon registered a hat trick and added an assist to lead the Western Conference to a 14-12 win over the Eastern Conference on Monday night at the AHL All-Star Game in Utica, NY. Hudon was the Hamilton Bulldogs’ lone representative at the event.
Hudon’s four-point night earned him co-MVP honours with goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who surrendered just two goals on 18 shots during the first period.
The Alma, QC native was a fifth-round selection of the Canadiens in 2012. He leads all AHL rookies with 36 points (11G-25A) in 42 games. Hudon also leads the Bulldogs in points.
- The Canadiens returned to work from the All-Star break on Monday, practicing at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard for the first time since preparing for the Predators last Tuesday.
- Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau was not at practice on Monday. The 31-year-old forward is currently sidelined with a concussion. The veteran winger suffered the initial injury back on January 2 in New Jersey, but returned to the lineup on January 14-15 in Columbus and Ottawa. Most recently, however, he has missed a pair of games against the Islanders and Preds.
- Goaltender Carey Price and forward Jiri Sekac were also absent from practice. The Habs’ two representatives at the NHL’s All-Star Weekend in Columbus were en route to Montreal on Monday afternoon after their scheduled morning flight was delayed due to the weather situation in the Northeastern U.S.
- Current McGill Redmen goaltender Jacob Gervais-Chouinard took part in the Canadiens practice for a second time this season in place of Price, having previously donned the Habs jersey in Brossard just over a month ago on December 19.
- Although Price missed the week’s first practice in Brossard, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that the 27-year-old netminder should nevertheless be back in goal on Tuesday against the visiting Dallas Stars.
- A significant portion of practice was dedicated to special teams on Monday. Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher, P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov were on the first wave, while Lars Eller, David Desharnais, Alex Galchenyuk, Sergei Gonchar, and Nathan Beaulieu were on the second wave of the unit which has gone 7-for-18 over the last four games.
- The Sherbrooke Phoenix announced via Twitter on Monday that Habs prospect Daniel Audette is currently sidelined with pneumonia and will miss Wednesday’s game in the QMJHL. The 18-year-old center is also questionable heading into the weekend.
Forward lines and defensive pairings at practice: