- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday, ahead of hosting the visiting San Jose Sharks at the Bell Centre.
- Carey Price will be back in goal for the Habs on Saturday, making his 59th start of the season against the Sharks. On Thursday, Price set a new personal best, winning his career-high 39th game of the season against the Hurricanes.
- Jeff Petry will be back in the lineup after missing Thursday’s game with the flu. The 27-year-old defenseman will be paired with Alexei Emelin on the blue line, while Nathan Beaulieu should be a healthy scratch.
“I’m feeling a lot better than yesterday, and yesterday was a lot better than the day before, so I’m taking steps in the right direction,” confirmed Petry following practice.
- The Canadiens have scored seven goals in their last two games, but now face a tough task in keeping that offensive output alive against a Sharks team which has shut them out in each of their three previous meetings.
“There are some teams that get into your head,” admitted forward David Desharnais, who has nevertheless registered three points in four career games opposite the Sharks. “Obviously we didn’t play well in San Jose this year, but we’ve got 10 games left this season to show what we’re made of, including five at home. We want to be at our best in front of our fans and scoring a couple of goals against the Sharks tonight would be a good boost for our confidence.”
- Arriving in Montreal in the thick of a battle for one of the West’s final two wild card spots, the Sharks aren’t a team the Habs can take lightly heading down the stretch.
“It’s going to be a good test for us,” continued Desharnais. “We want to prepare ourselves for the playoffs by facing teams who are hungry for points. They might be big and strong, but we’re fast, so it should be a good matchup.”
Despite their spot in the standings, Devante Smith-Pelly knows better than most that this year’s point totals don’t tell the entire story regarding the perennial Pacific Division powerhouse.
“You look at their team on paper and it’s strange. They’ve always been big and fast every time I’ve played them, so it’s a little odd to see them so low in the standings,” acknowledged the former Anaheim Duck who will face the Sharks for the 11th time in his career on Saturday. “But if we just play the game we’re supposed to and stick to our systems we should be alright. You see where we are in the standings, so obviously that’s something we’ve been able to do for most of the season.”
Another recent Western Conference transplant echoed similar sentiments.
“They’re going to be hungry and desperate, and they’re going to be throwing everything they have at us,” added Petry. “We’re going to have to match their intensity and elevate our game in order to suppress theirs.”
- After securing a 4-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night in Montreal, the Canadiens were back at practice on Friday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. Michel Therrien’s troops will go in search of a third straight victory when they play host to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
- Prior to the start of practice, Torrey Mitchell hit the ice for a light workout with athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine. Mitchell is still sidelined with an upper-body injury he suffered on March 14 against the New York Islanders.
- After missing Thursday’s practice/game with the flu, defenseman Jeff Petry was back at practice on Friday morning. Both Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais didn’t skate. Plekanec was given a therapy day, while Desharnais was out with the flu.
- After a day off on Wednesday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of their tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre.
- All players were present and accounted for at the morning skate, except for Torrey Mitchell (upper-body injury) and Jeff Petry, who didn’t hit the ice after coming down with the flu. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Petry is doubtful for Thursday night’s game, and that if the American rearguard is unable to play, Nathan Beaulieu will take his spot in the lineup. Beaulieu skated alongside Tom Gilbert during the on-ice session.
- The Canadiens’ bench boss made a minor tweak to his forward lines, featuring Brendan Gallagher back on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty, while Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau skated with David Desharnais and Alex Galchenyuk.
“I want there to be as much balance as possible when it comes to our lines. It’s crucial to spread the offense around,” offered Therrien, whose squad will be looking to complete the season sweep of the Hurricanes on Thursday night, outscoring Carolina by a 7-2 margin in their two previous meetings combined back in December. “We want and we need contributions from everybody to have success, even if it’s guys on the third and fourth lines or our defensemen.”
- Fresh off their win in Sunrise, the Canadiens are well aware that being outshot 21-4 in the third period – like they were in South Florida – isn’t necessarily a recipe for success. Michel Therrien’s troops appeared somewhat fatigued in the final frame at the BB&T Center, and they understand the need to avoid a similar letdown this time around.
“Sometimes, it’s just a matter of playing smarter. You can work hard, but you also have to work smart, making sure you’re putting the puck in good positions and retrieving it so you’re not always on defense and you’re not always chasing the game,” explained P.K. Subban, who is averaging a team-leading 26:11 of ice time per game. “I think we need to remember that we need to make smart decisions with the puck. We don’t want to turn the puck over. That doesn’t mean we want to take anything away from a player’s creativity. We want to make plays at the right time. If you don’t have the time or space to make a play, you want to chip the puck where you can get it back. I think we have to pay attention to those types of details to have success at this point in the season.”
Gallagher believes keeping the energy level up in the final frame is also a matter of playing smart with and without the puck, too.
“You just have to understand that we’re at our best when we’re rolling four lines and six defensemen. Everyone keeps their shifts short and line after line we’re coming at teams and wearing them down and making sure that as the games go on they’re getting tired,” offered Gallagher, who is one goal shy of reaching the 20-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career. “You try to avoid tough-minute shifts where you get caught out there too long and spend some time in your own end. You’ve just got to be smart and efficient with your ice time. If you do that, by the third period you should be fine.”
- Thirty-four points separate the Canadiens and the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference standings. That doesn’t mean anything to the CH, who aren’t about to take any opponent lightly this time of year.
“Regardless of what team we’ve played this year, we’ve just kept doing the same thing. We try to play the same way. We’re at our best when we’re playing a very specific style of hockey. It’s chipping pucks in and forechecking, using our speed and trying to work teams down that way. That’s how we create our offense. If we can stick to that game plan, I think we’ll be fine,” explained Gallagher, who has one goal and five points in five career regular season games against the Hurricanes. “They’ve got some really good players on that side, too, some world-class players. They’ve got guys who can hurt you. You’ve got to be aware of them. Whatever has happened with that team this year has happened. That’s not for us to worry about. We know that they’re still a very dangerous team.”
- Carey Price will make his 58th start of the season for the Canadiens. He boasts a 10-5-2 record, a 2.35 goals against average and a .928 save percentage in 17 career regular season appearances against Carolina. Anton Khudobin will be between the pipes for the Hurricanes.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
Projected lineup vs. Carolina:
Pacioretty - Plekanec - Gallagher
Galchenyuk - Desharnais - Parenteau
De La Rose - Eller - Smith-Pelly
Prust - Malhotra - Weise
Markov - Subban
Beaulieu - Gilbert
Emelin - Pateryn
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Monday morning ahead of their tilt against the Lightning.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that defenseman Alexei Emelin will make his return to the lineup on Monday night. He hasn’t played since February 18, when he was injured early on in a game in Ottawa.
“You need depth on the blue line. Right now, everyone’s healthy, which is a good thing. In Alexei’s case, he’s an important player in our defense corps because of his ability to be a physical presence,” offered Therrien, referencing Emelin’s team-leading 157 hits during the 2014-15 campaign. “Unfortunately, at the time of his injury, he was probably playing his best hockey of the season. We hope that he’ll be able to showcase the good things that he was doing before he was injured. We really liked what he was contributing to the team in terms of his physicality and the way he moved the puck. It was a big loss for our team when he went down. That’s why we’re happy to see him back.”
- The Canadiens’ bench boss was not prepared to discuss who would sit in place of Emelin, but he did indicate that he would not be using seven defensemen against the Lightning.
- With Torrey Mitchell sidelined with an upper-body injury, Brian Flynn returns to the Canadiens’ lineup on Monday night. He’s been a healthy scratch for the last two games, suiting up most recently on March 10 in the 1-0 overtime loss to the Lightning.
“It helps watching, but obviously I wanted to play. Hopefully, I can play well tonight and keep staying in there,” offered Flynn, who has played four games with the Canadiens since coming on board at the trade deadline earlier in the month. “I just need to skate well. If I’m playing center, I need to do a good job on my side on faceoffs and just be reliable defensively.”
- Solving Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop has proven difficult for the Canadiens so far this season. Having conceded just three goals against in three games against the CH, Bishop has been a real thorn in their side. That’s something Michel Therrien’s troops will undoubtedly have to change tonight if they have any hope of besting a Lightning squad that has certainly proven what they’re capable of on offense.
“For starters, he covers up a lot of the net. He’s rarely off his angles, so it’s certainly tough to beat him with a shot. Like any goalie, though, there are ways to beat him, traffic and rebounds and just getting to the net,” offered Brendan Gallagher, who has three goals and five points in 10 career regular season games against Tampa Bay. “Their defensemen do a good job of blocking you out and making it difficult to get in there, but if you want to beat this team, you’re going to have to find ways to do that. Last game, I think they won the battles around the blue paint. I think tonight we’ve got to do a better job there."
- Price will make his 57th start of the season for the Canadiens on Monday night. He boasts a 10-9-5 record, a 2.44 goals-against average, and a .917 save percentage in 24 career regular season outings against the Lightning.
- The Canadiens hit the ice at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Sunday afternoon for a practice session ahead of their Monday night tilt against the Lightning.
- After leaving Saturday night’s game against the Islanders with an upper-body injury, Torrey Mitchell did not take part in Sunday afternoon’s practice. Head coach Michel Therrien indicated that Mitchell would not be in the lineup on Monday and that Brian Flynn would take his spot.
- The Canadiens’ bench boss also confirmed that Carey Price will get the start in goal on Monday night. It will be his 57th start of the season.
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday ahead of their tilt against the New York Islanders. Following the game, the team will travel to Florida to battle the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, before wrapping up their three-game road swing against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
- While head coach Michel Therrien wasn’t about to discuss his lineup for Saturday night’s contest following the morning skate, we do know that defenseman Greg Pateryn will sport the CH for the first time since February 28. The Sterling Heights, MI native, who was recalled from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday, played six games with the Canadiens in mid-to-late February, and his focus this time around is squarely on offering up the style of game that earned him another stint with the big club.
“I don’t feel any added pressure. I’m excited to be a part of this, to know that they have the faith to put me in there at this point in the season. I think it’s huge for me. My game’s pretty simple. I’m not going to try to change anything out there. I know what I need to do. As long as I stick to that, I think I’ll be o.k.,” offered Pateryn, who dished out 18 hits in his six outings with the Canadiens during the 2014-15 campaign. “I went down to Hamilton and I kept playing the way I was up here. I think it will be an easier transition back here because of that.”
- The question now is who will be the odd man out on the Canadiens’ back end. It might be Nathan Beaulieu, but that is still uncertain. The young rearguard is aware, however, that consistency is the key ingredient to ensuring he’ll be lacing up his skates every night going forward.
“Michel and I had a good conversation. The biggest thing is execution and taking responsibility for the minutes I play. If I’m playing 12 minutes, they’ve got to be a solid 12 minutes. You earn your ice time here, and I just felt from a personal standpoint that I can be better,” confided Beaulieu, who finished Thursday night’s game against Ottawa with a minus-3 differential. “It’s all about results and performance, so it’s in my hands.”
- There’s nothing the Canadiens would like more than to get back on track and kick off their current road trip in style on Saturday night. They’ve already bested the Islanders twice this season, so there’s no reason to think that they can’t make it three in a row and complete the season sweep.
“We know we have to turn it around quickly. We haven’t been playing good hockey lately. We haven’t been getting the results we wanted. Those two things kind of go hand in hand. We need to start getting some wins and some points on the board. We need to get back to the way that’s always made us successful,” stressed Brendan Gallagher, whose squad has just one win in its last six outings and boasts a 5-3-2 record in its last 10 games. “We’re still confident in this locker room. I don’t think anyone’s worried, but we have to have an understanding that it can’t go on too much longer. We’ve got to turn this around and get back to the things that we always talk about doing.”
- Saturday night’s game will mark the final regular season meeting between the Canadiens and the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. With their opponents set to depart for Brooklyn come next year, head coach Michel Therrien took a moment to reflect on what it has meant to coach at one of the oldest buildings in the League over the years.
“Who knows if it’s going to be our last time? Yes, it’s our last time during the regular season. The thing I remember about the Islanders is the history of the franchise and the building. They won Stanley Cups here. It’s always special to play in an old barn like this,” confirmed Therrien. “But, who knows? I think it’s still early to say that this is going to be our last time.”
- Carey Price will make his 56th start of the season on Saturday night. He boasts an 8-3-3 record, a 2.62 goals-against average, and a .906 save percentage in 14 career regular season outings against New York. The Islanders will counter with Michal Neuvirth between the pipes.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on TVA Sports and City TV.
- The Canadiens held a morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday before flying to New York ahead of Saturday’s game against the Islanders. The Habs now play their next three on the road, also facing the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Monday and the Panthers in Sunrise on Tuesday before returning home to Montreal.
- The entire team was on the ice at the Canadiens’ south shore practice facility, including defenseman Greg Pateryn, who was called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs earlier in the morning. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed following practice that Pateryn will be in the lineup on Saturday.
- Therrien also confirmed that defenseman Alexei Emelin will not dress against the Islanders, but could return to the lineup either in Tampa or Sunrise.
- Carey Price will be back in goal on Saturday, making his 56th start of the season on Long Island. The last time the Habs visited the Isles, Price made 37 saves en route to a 3-1 win in December.
OFFENSIVE LINES AND DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS AT PRACTICE
Eller-De La Rose-Smith-Pelly
The Canadiens recalled Greg Pateryn from the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday morning.
The 24-year-old defenseman played six games with the Canadiens this season during a call-up earlier in the year. Pateryn has registered three goals and 15 points in 53 games with the Bulldogs this season, in addition to amassing 56 penalty minutes.
Pateryn will join the Canadiens at practice on Friday in Brossard before accompanying the team on their three-game road trip to Long Island, Tampa Bay and Miami.
- After a day off on Wednesday, the Canadiens held a morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard ahead of Thursday night’s tilt against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre.
- All players were present and accounted for at practice. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau was featured on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk. He will return to the Canadiens’ lineup on Thursday night after being a healthy scratch for the last four games. Manny Malhotra and Brian Flynn will likely be the healthy scratches up front, while Alexei Emelin and Mike Weaver likely won’t suit up on the back end.
- Sergei Gonchar will play his 1,300th career NHL game on Thursday night. Gonchar ranks second in League history for the most games played by any Russian-born player, 16 games back of Alexei Kovalev.
- It’s safe to say that Parenteau’s return was the big story at Thursday’s morning skate. The 31-year-old, who last saw game action last week in San Jose, has clearly been chomping at the bit to play in front of the Bell Centre faithful, something he hasn’t done since December 20 against these same Ottawa Senators.
“I think it’s been about three months since I’ve played a game at the Bell Centre, so I’m excited to get back into the lineup and to help my teammates,” offered Parenteau, who has been limited to playing just 41 games this season after suffering multiple concussions back in January. “I’m motivated to get back to playing. I’ve definitely been looking forward to it. It will be fun to get back to work at the Bell Centre. The team is playing well at home. I’m excited for the opportunity.”
It certainly hasn’t been easy for the Canadiens’ No. 15 to watch from the sidelines as of late, particularly after being given the green light to return to active duty prior to the team’s most recent road trip out to California and Arizona.
“You get your confidence back when you play good minutes and you make good plays. Right now, my confidence isn’t at its highest point, but I think it will come back pretty quickly,” confided Parenteau, who is dead set on making every single outing count as the regular season winds down. “Fifteen games isn’t a lot, but it’s a good chance to prove myself, get back on track and win my spot back. I haven’t had the season I wanted to date. Before I got hurt, I don’t think I was necessarily playing up to the level that I could. There are 15 games left to prove what I can do. I fully intend to do that.”
- The decision to give Parenteau a shot against Ottawa wasn’t a difficult one for head coach Michel Therrien, who spoke with the veteran forward prior to Thursday’s on-ice session.
“You always have to find the right time to bring a player back into the lineup. Tonight is the right time to get him back in there,” offered Therrien. “I had a good conversation with him this morning about the expectations that we have for him. You don’t always judge a player in terms of goals, assists and offensive production. You also have to look at the smaller details and his work ethic. He’s very excited to play again and that’s the way it should be. I wanted to be clear with him. I want him to be intense and to be involved in the game. When a player does that, usually good things happen.”
- Winners of eight of their last 10 games, Dave Cameron’s contingent has been cruising in recent weeks. They’ve also bested Michel Therrien’s troops in their last two meetings, outscoring the Canadiens by an 8-3 margin during that span. That’s a streak the CH will be looking to snap on Thursday night, and they’ll have to solve Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond to do it.
“It’s all a question of execution with the puck and putting pressure on the opposition. Those are the basic principles that you have to apply in a game to have success,” stressed Therrien. “You have to get back to basics. You need to see the situation as a whole. We did good things in our last game and in the game in Arizona. If it wasn’t for their goalie, we would’ve scored more goals. In Los Angeles, we were just 45 seconds away from the win and we played a good game in Anaheim, too. When I take a step back, I can see that the guys are competing.”
- Carey Price will make his 55th start of the season on Thursday night. He boasts a 17-6-4 record, a .922 save percentage and a 2.30 goals-against average in 29 career regular season outings against Ottawa.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS, Sportsnet East and TSN5.
Projected lineup vs. Ottawa:
Gallagher – Desharnais – Pacioretty
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Parenteau
Smith-Pelly – De La Rose – Eller
Prust – Mitchell – Weise
Malhotra – Flynn
Subban – Markov
Gonchar – Beaulieu
Petry – Gilbert
Emelin – Weaver
- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday in preparation for their tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre. Jon Cooper’s contingent is two points back of the Canadiens, who currently sit atop the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference standings with 90 points. The Lightning have won three straight games.
- Defenseman Alexei Emelin took part in Tuesday’s on-ice session alongside his teammates. He will not, however, suit up against the Lightning. That was confirmed by head coach Michel Therrien at practice on Monday.
- The Lightning enter Tuesday night’s contest as the League’s highest scoring team with 222 goals in 68 games. For their part, the Canadiens sit atop the League on the defensive side of things, allowing just 146 goals thus far during the 2014-15 campaign. That has everything to do with the outstanding play of Carey Price, who has been a veritable wall all season long. With that in mind, what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We’ll find out come 7:30 p.m. EST. The Lightning have been the better of the two squads through two games, lighting the lamp 11 times, while conceding just three markers. But, P.K. Subban insists the Canadiens’ defense corps is up to the challenge that awaits them at the Bell Centre.
“We have to be solid defensively every game,” offered Subban, who, along with partner Andrei Markov, have blocked a combined 252 shots this season. “When you look around the League, you see that not a lot of goals are being scored these days. Take a look at how the League is developing right now, the focus is on the defensive side of things. You need to be solid defensively to give yourself a chance to win. Games are too close and the teams are too good, regardless of where they sit in the standings. This will be a good defensive test for us, especially against a team that scores as much as the Lightning do.”
With four 20-plus goal scorers on the roster, the Canadiens will have their hands full trying to slow down a Lightning squad with players like Steven Stamkos in the fold. Stamkos registered a hat trick in the first meeting of the year between the two clubs on October 13. The Lightning captain aside, the Canadiens will also have to key in on several other offensive threats both up front and on the back end.
“Whether it’s Steven or guys like Crosby, Malkin or Ovechkin, it’s a challenge every night. This League is really good and you can’t focus on just one player on every team. Even fourth line guys can make you pay if you’re not ready. But, it’s definitely a challenge playing a guy like that,” stressed Subban. “It’s my job to make sure that he doesn’t have a good night.”
- While the Canadiens and the Lightning haven’t seen one another often during the 2014-15 campaign, you get the sense that these two Eastern Conference powerhouses don’t necessarily enjoy each other’s company. That likely stems from last year’s opening-round playoff matchup, and it clearly carried over into the regular season.
“It’s not a physical matchup like we have with Boston. Definitely the teams are starting to build a hatred for each other,” confirmed Dale Weise, who has one goal and two points in five career regular season games against the Lightning. “We haven’t played each other in a while. They’ve embarrassed us twice. We’ve got a hatred for them now.”
The Canadiens will have to keep that so called “hatred” under control, however, as penalty trouble ultimately burned the CH the last time the two teams met in early January. Fortunately, Weise believes his squad has demonstrated significant improvement in that department over the last eight weeks.
“I think the biggest thing, if you look at that game, is our discipline. We were playing a good game there. We took a couple of penalties. That kind of gave them the game there. So, it’s our discipline and our consistency that’s different,” confided Weise, who ranks third on the team with 124 hits in 63 games. “I think we know what to expect from our club every night. It’s not about which Montreal Canadiens team is going to show up. I think we know what kind of team is going to show up against Tampa. We’ll see which team wins.”
- Carey Price will make his 54th start of the season for the Canadiens. He boasts a 10-9-4 record, a 2.51 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 23 career regular season outings against the Lightning. Ben Bishop should get the start for Tampa Bay.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
Projected lineup against the Lightning:
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Weise
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Eller – De La Rose – Smith-Pelly
Prust – Mitchell – Flynn