- After a day off on Sunday following a four-game road swing, the Canadiens were back at practice on Monday afternoon at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. The Habs will be back in action on Tuesday night when they take on the Vancouver Canucks at the Bell Centre.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Weaver suffered a concussion in Saturday night’s loss in Dallas, and that the veteran rearguard will not suit up against the Canucks on Tuesday night. He also confirmed that Eller underwent tests for his injury on Monday.
- The Canadiens bench boss made some moves up front on Monday, featuring Alex Galchenyuk at center on a line with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, while David Desharnais centered a line with Michael Bournival and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau. For his part, young gun Sven Andrighetto, who scored his first NHL goal on Saturday night in Dallas, skated with Tomas Plekanec and Jiri Sekac.
- Mr. Jean Beliveau lay in wake for a second straight day at the Bell Centre on Monday. Those wishing to pay their respects to the Hall-of-Famer and his family can do so until 6 p.m. EST. Mr. Beliveau’s funeral will be held on Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Forward lines at practice:
- The Canadiens practiced at the United Center ahead of their game against the Blackhawks on Friday.
- Drayson Bowman joined his teammates on the ice on Friday morning in Chicago after being called up by the Canadiens on Thursday night.
- Carey Price will get his 22nd start of the season on Friday night, looking for his first win on United Center ice, having dropped his lone appearance against the Blackhawks in Chicago on October 30, 2009.
- Coming off a disappointing loss to the Wild, the Habs will look to reverse their fortunes against one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Owning an 8-2-0 record in their last 10 games, the Hawks have been playing their best hockey of the season, especially the line of Patrick Kane, Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg, who have combined for 39 points (16 G, 23 A) in that span.
“It’s going to be tough. They have some great players on that team and they’re playing well. That line of Kane, Richards and Versteeg has been hot of late,” admitted P.K. Subban, who will be joined by Andrei Markov in looking to keep that trio off the scoresheet on Friday, “For us, it’s not so much focusing on key players as much as it is focusing on our team system and how we want to play. It’s going to come down to execution and paying attention to detail. The small things are going to make the difference in the game: getting pucks out of the zone, making sure we’re not turning it over at key times and making sure we’re getting bodies in front of the net. Whether they have the best goalie in the league in net or not, it’s hard to score goals in the NHL without traffic in front. We have to focus on doing those little things tonight. That will make the difference.”
- Looking to spark some offense of his own on Friday, Michel Therrien will reunite Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais with Dale Weise against the Blackhawks. In their 46:35 ice time together as a unit this season, the line has a plus-4 differential, and enjoys the best goals-for per 60 minutes of ice time on the team, with 7.7.
“He’s patient with the puck, he’s a great skater, and he’s a funny guy so he keeps things loose,” explained Desharnais on what Weise brings to their threesome. “Usually when he moves to our line it’s because we haven’t been producing, and we’re gripping the sticks a little tight and he lightens the mood. It seems every time he’s with us, it pays off.”
- In addition to the Blackhawks’ offensive prowess of late, the team has also proved to be stingy defensively in 2014-15, currently leading the NHL in goals-against per game at 1.96 while also owning the best penalty kill efficiency in the league at a stellar 92%.
“They have a lot of skill back there and their defensemen like to join the rush," described Pacioretty. "I think the reason why they’re so good defensively is that they’re always playing on offense. We need to find a way to counter-attack them and use our speed.”
- After a tough start against Minnesota that saw the Canadiens get outshot 30-10 through the first 40 minutes, Therrien wasn’t shy about what he’s hoping to see from his players against Chicago.
“That their skates are done up from the start, not just in the third period,” he joked.
- Therrien also confirmed that Mike Weaver would be back in the lineup on Friday after being a healthy scratch against the Wild on Wednesday.
“We want him to be better, and that’s one of the reasons he wasn’t in the lineup [in Minnesota]. We want to see him respond,” shared the Habs bench boss, whose 36-year-old blue-liner leads all Canadiens players with 51 blocked shots and 3:18 shorthanded ice time per game. “We expect more from Mike than the way he’s played recently because we know what he can bring to the lineup. Sometimes, sitting out can help a player. We hope he bounces back strong.”
Lines and defense pairings at practice
Words from the room
Game Preview: Canadiens @ Blackhawks
The Canadiens recalled forward Drayson Bowman from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Thursday evening. He is scheduled to join the team in Chicago ahead of the tilt against the Blackhawks on Friday night at the United Center. Bowman, who has suited up for three games with the Canadiens thus far this season, has put up three goals and seven points in 14 games with the Bulldogs on the year.
- The Canadiens were given the day off on Thursday, the day after a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild. The team will battle the Blackhawks on Friday in Chicago.
- The team assigned Michaël Bournival to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Thursday morning, allowing him to play three games over the weekend.
- For a second month in a row, Carey Price was named the team’s Molson Cup winner for November, narrowly edging out Max Pacioretty for the honor with nine points (2 first star, 1 second star and 1 third star nod).
- Michael Bournival participated in his first full practice (non-game day skate), and Michel Therrien confirmed that while Bournival is inching closer to his return, he won’t be in the lineup against Minnesota.
Lines at practiceGalchenyuk-Plekanec-Gallagher
MONTREAL – It wasn’t even close.
That’s the best way to describe just how big a margin of victory the Canadiens managed to string together over the Vancouver Canucks in their friendly Movember competition this time around.
The Canadiens’ “Group of 4” consisting of Brendan Gallagher, Carey Price, P.K. Subban, and Mike Weaver, collected just under $2,900 during the month of November in support of the fight against prostate and testicular cancer, and mental health concerns. For their part, the Canucks’ contingent of Nick Bonino, Shawn Matthias, Eddie Lack and Ryan Miller, collected about $1,550.
The Canucks paid their debt to the winners on Monday, posting a “Go Habs Go” photograph on their social media accounts.
As it stands, the Montreal Canadiens raised over $47,000 as a group for the very worthy cause.
- Forward Michael McCarron is one of 30 players that will take part in Team USA's final selection camp ahead of the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championships that will take place in Montreal and Toronto at the end of December. Team USA's final roster will be announced on December 24. The Canadiens' first-round selection in 2013 has scored 13 goals and picked up 26 points in 17 games with the OHL's London Knights this season.
- The Canadiens hit the ice at the Pepsi Center in Denver for morning skate on Monday ahead of their game against the Avalanche. All players were present for practice.
- Carey Price will get his 20th start of the season on Monday night, looking to build on his 2-2-1 career record against the Avs.
- Michel Therrien confirmed that Tom Gilbert would be back in the lineup on Monday after having been a healthy scratch in the last two games against Buffalo. The team will once again play with a lineup of 12 forwards and six defensemen, meaning Bryan Allen will be the odd-man out on the back end.
- Although he already had the chance to face – and beat – his former team twice this season in the preseason and regular season, P-A Parenteau won’t be any less motivated in his Denver homecoming. Set to face the Avs in Colorado for the first time since being traded to Montreal this summer, the 31-year-old Hull native is looking forward to making his return to the Pepsi Center on Monday night.
“I had some great years here, especially my first year here. I don’t want to lose this one, for sure,” cracked Parenteau, who had 76 points in 103 games over two seasons in Colorado. “Every time you play against your ex-team, especially coming back home, it’s special. It’s going to be special tonight. We have a good team, I’m playing for the Montreal Canadiens and I live in my home town. It’s tough to ask for a better scenario than that. We’re playing some good hockey this year on our side and we’re having a good time playing. I’m looking forward to this challenge. They’re a really good team up front especially so we’re going to have to be ready.”
- Set to kick off a busy December with a stretch of four games in six nights over a few different time zones, the Canadiens will look to snap a current three-game losing streak by starting a brand new win streak on road ice on Monday night. Hoping to maintain the team’s spot tied atop the NHL standings, Therrien isn’t thinking about picking up eight points on the trip out west, instead choosing to focus on the two points up for grabs in Denver.
“It’s a big challenge for us when you look at the number of games we have in a short period of time,” mentioned Therrien, whose team also played back-to-back games against the Sabres on Friday and Saturday night. “We have to take it one game at a time. It’s an old cliché, but that’s the attitude we need to have to make sure we have a good trip from the start.”
- Home ice advantage really takes on a new meaning in the Mile High City, where the thin air can cause golf balls to travel up to 10% farther and the increased elevation can cause finely-tuned athletes to struggle to adapt. Used to playing and training at an elevation of 712’ back home in Montreal, the Habs will have to adjust quickly to the Rocky Mountain air all the way up at 5,280’. Owning a 460-270-55-39 on home ice since moving from Quebec City to Denver, the Avalanche have clearly learned to use the altitude to their advantage, although Brendan Gallagher has a few simple plans in place to help negate the Mile High Effect.
“I think you do feel it, but I don’t think it’s something you can worry about,” explained Gallagher, who has only played in Colorado once in his career to date. “It is what it is and you just have to deal with it. I think it is an issue, so on the ice you have to keep your shifts short and try not to extend yourself too much because it’s a bit tougher to breathe.”
Canadiens fans will spot a familiar face on the ice this month when the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship gets underway at home in two of hockey's biggest markets.
On Monday morning during a press conference at the Bell Centre, Habs prospect Zachary Fucale was among the 29 players invited to Team Canada’s pre-tournament selection camp.
CLICK HERE FOR CANADA’S NATIONAL JUNIOR TEAM SELECTION CAMP ROSTER
“I’m looking forward to what should be a great preparation [for the tournament],” acknowledged the fourth-year Halifax Mooseheads netminder, who joins Winnipeg Jets goaltending prospect and fellow 2013 NHL Draft pick Eric Comrie at the camp which kicks off on December 11 in Toronto. “We’re going to win. That’s the goal. That’s the ultimate goal. Every country wants to win and Canada is no different. That’s what we want to do and that’s what we’re heading towards.”
While there are typically few guarantees in the world of international hockey, with just two goaltenders on Hockey Canada’s list of invitees -- and thus no further cuts to make at the position -- Fucale and Comrie are nevertheless locks to be among the 22 young men hitting the ice when the home team opens its preliminary round play on December 26 in Montreal.
“We’re heading into our selection camp with just two goaltenders on our roster,” noted Team Canada head coach Benoit Groulx. “Our choice to do so is the result of a process which started two years ago. The goaltenders were scouted by our goaltending coach as well as by [Hockey Canada scout] Ryan Jankowski. Together we came to the conclusion that over the last two years, Fucale and Comrie have been the two most consistent, competitive and successful goalies in the country. We truly believe they represent the best goaltending tandem in Canada.”
With roster spots already wrapped up and just the de facto starter left to be determined, Fucale meanwhile insists there won't be any controversy between the pipes.
"Coms and I have known each other for a long time and we're going to be good teammates through all of this," affirmed the six-foot-one QMJHL product of his WHL counterpart. "All either of us wants to do is help the team win. Ultimately that's our job and whoever is in there needs to give the team a chance to win every night."
Even so, as a 19-year-old native of Laval, QC, Fucale now has the opportunity to finish his under-20 World Junior career in front of friends and family after previously representing Canada in Sweden a year ago.
“It’s going to be a great experience. I’m excited to play here at the Bell Centre as well as in Toronto. These are two unbelievable buildings to play in,” concluded the Canadiens' 36th overall pick from a season ago, whose last Bell Centre appearance came in a 2013 preseason start opposite the Buffalo Sabres. “It’s something that will help me in the future. Having all of our fans behind us will give us a lot of energy to build off of. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.”
The 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship runs from December 26, 2014 to January 5, 2015 at the Bell Centre in Montreal and at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Tickets for the tournament can be purchased here.
Elise Robillard is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Steven Nechay.
Roster announced for Canada's National Junior team selection camp
Game Preview: Canadiens @ Avalanche
All in a day's work
The Numbers Game - November 29, 2014
Here is the complete broadcast schedule for the eighth episode of the third season of 24CH.CANAL D
Saturday, November 29 - 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 30 - 12:00 a.m.
Sunday, November 30 - 9:00 a.m.
Saturday, November 29 - 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 30 - 12:30 p.m.
Friday, December 5 - 11:30 p.m.
Monday, December 1st - 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 6 - 3:30 p.m.
24CH Premiere, including extra footage, will be available every Friday night on the Bell TV app. 24CH The Quiz will be available on demand on Bell Local (channel 1217) for Fibe TV customers, with a new episode every Saturday.