- After a day off on Thursday, the Canadiens returned to practice on Friday morning in preparation for back-to-back tilts over the weekend against both the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre.
- Prior to the start of practice, both Carey Price and Paul Byron hit the ice to continue rehabbing their respective injuries. Price was sporting a tracksuit and his blocker and glove. He did some work around his goal crease on lateral movement, and worked on clearing the puck, too, from behind the net. For his part, Byron skated with head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend.
- The Canadiens confirmed on Friday that forward Lucas Lessio will be out 2-3 weeks with a lower-body injury sustained on Feb. 2 against the Flyers in Philadelphia.
- Following practice, the Canadiens confirmed that Ben Scrivens would get the start in goal against the Oilers on Saturday afternoon. It will mark Scrivens’ fourth start as a member of the CH since coming on board in late December.
- On Friday, the Canadiens also acknowledged the on-ice achievement and academic distinction of 28 young hockey players as part of the bursary program of the Foundation for Athletic Excellence (QFAE). It marks the ninth consecutive year the CH has done so. Created in 2008, this initiative aims to provide the most promising young student-athletes in men and women’s hockey with financial support.
In a ceremony at the Bell Sports Complex, scholarships valued at $1,500 were presented to the most deserving young hockey players between 15 and 18 years of age. Eight of the scholarships were handed out to female hockey players from Quebec’s provincial team hoping to earn a spot on the Canadian National Team, while 20 more scholarships were awarded to hockey players from the Midget AAA league.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- The Canadiens hit the ice at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday morning, ahead of tonight’s game against the Flyers.
- Mike Condon will get the nod between the pipes for the Canadiens. The rookie netminder has yet to face the Flyers in his career, as Ben Scrivens started the Habs previous matchup against Philadelphia earlier this year. Condon heads into Tuesday night’s contest with a 13-13-4 record complimented by a goals against average of 2.45 and a save percentage of .904
- In addition, coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Tom Gilbert will make his return to the lineup since suffering a lower-body injury on December 22 against the Minnesota Wild.
“Since the playoffs start soon, every single game from now on is extremely important. We just have to take it game by game. I just have to try and contribute as much as I can. Be a positive factor for this team moving forward and help make a good push before the playoffs,” proposed Gilbert, who lined-up alongside Mark Barberio at morning skate, and could potentially be paired together on Tuesday night. “It’s nice to be back, it’s tough watching. It’s never fun when you’re hurt, especially when the team isn’t doing well. If I’m playing tonight, it’s because I am at 100%. Just to get away from the rink and get a bit of rest and work hard on making a comeback was good for my confidence.”
- Lucas Lessio, recently called up to the Habs for the first time on January 31, will suit up for his first career game in a Canadiens uniform. At morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center, Lessio rotated on a line with Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn while sporting his new number '53'.
“I’m excited for sure. Pulling on the Canadiens jersey for the first time is going to be very special. Given the history and the number of Stanley Cups the team has, it’s going to be a pretty cool feeling,” acknowledged Lessio, who has 29 games of NHL experience with the Arizona Coyotes to his credit. “Coach said to keep it simple and just play my game. It’s not my first time in the league, so it is another opportunity for me and I am just looking to put my best foot forward and help the team win tonight. My mentality tonight is to be a reliable two-way forward and use my speed to create some offensive chances. I may have some people come up from Toronto but it’s pretty short notice. But my friends and family will be watching on TV tonight.”
- Coach Therrien added that he expects Lessio to help energize the team by sticking to the style of play that earned him his first call up to the Canadiens.
"I am sure he will be nervous. It will be his first game with his new team, and that’s normal. In his case, he just has to keep it simple. This is a guy who can bring energy to our team through his strong work ethic, his quick speed, and by being strong on the fore-check.”
- Defenseman Alexei Emelin, who missed Monday afternoon’s practice due to a flight cancellation, was back at practice on Tuesday morning where he patrolled the blue-line alongside Greg Pateryn. Michel Therrien however confirmed that the 29-year-old defenseman will not suit up against the Flyers as the physical blue-liner requires a bit more ice time to be game-ready after the break.
“It’s a bit of wishful thinking to have someone play a game after only touching the ice for morning skate after a six-day break. In Alexei’s case, he is a big body that needs time to warm up,” explained Michel Therrien, who will use the opportunity to reinsert Gilbert back into the lineup. “The game on December 26 was difficult for him because it was after a three-day break during the holidays. It’s unfortunate but these events are beyond our control.”
- Since the onset of December, Michel Therrien’s troops have scored a grand total of 48 goals, resulting in an average of 1.92 goals per game, which is in sharp contrast to the 3.52 average goals per game prior to December.
"Since the beginning of December, our biggest problem has been scoring goals. Winning games is the ultimate goal, but there were many games where we weren’t able to convert on our scoring opportunities. That's what matters. Both sides of the puck can be improved, but there is no doubt we need to find a way to score more goals,” explained coach Therrien, who formed the trio of Lars Eller, Tomas Fleischmann and Devante Smith-Pelly in an attempt to reinvigorate the Canadiens offense. “We also need to focus on winning the special teams battle, but to me it is vital that we play well in five-on-five situations. This is where the majority of the game will be played and we have to be at our best.
Lines from Practice
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Weise
Lessio - Mitchell - Flynn
Pateryn - Emelin
Quotes from the room: Feb 2.
Back to work
Scott, Atkinson, Eichel named stars of week
Soaking it all in
Following a short break for All-Star Weekend, the Canadiens hit the ice for practice at the Wells Fargo Center ahead of Tuesday night’s contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.
All players were accounted for with the exception of P.K. Subban, who was given the day off after participating in the All-Star Game in Nashville and Alexei Emelin who was absent from practice due to a flight cancellation but is expected to meet the team in Philadelphia ahead of Tuesday night’s game.
Forwards Sven Andrighetto and Lucas Lessio joined teammates for practice in Philadelphia after being called up to the Canadiens on Sunday. At Monday’s practice, the two wingers rotated on a line with Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn. In his first practice in a Canadiens uniform, Lessio sported the number 53.
Captain Max Pacioretty, who was forced to leave the Canadiens most recent contest against the Blue Jackets on February 26, was also back at practice where he skated alongside David Desharnais and Dale Weise.
In addition, coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Tom Gilbert is ready to make his return to the lineup, but has yet to announce whether he will suit up against the Flyers.
Back in Brossard, Carey Price skated without equipment, prompting coach Therrien to joke that he is “looking forward to when he starts to look more like a goalie than Gaétan Boucher.” While the Habs bench boss also noted that he does not have an update on Price’s return date.
Lines from practiceGalchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Weise
Fleischmann – Eller – Smith-Pelly
Andrighetto/Lessio – Mitchell – Flynn
Andrighetto has 10 goals and 23 points in 26 games with Sylvain Lefebvre’s squad this season. He’s also put up four goals and five points in 17 games with the CH during the 2015-16 campaign.
Lessio, meanwhile, has earned his first call-up with the Canadiens since being acquired on Dec. 15 from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Christian Thomas. The 23-year-old Maple, ON native has amassed three goals and nine points in 18 games with the IceCaps. He has 29 games of NHL experience with the Coyotes.
MONTREAL -- The Canadiens announced during Tuesday’s game that Daniel Carr will be out for three months.
Carr suffered a right knee injury against the Blue Jackets on Monday in Columbus.
In 19 games with the Canadiens this season, the 24-year-old forward has registered five goals and three assists, in addition to another 21 points over 24 games with the St. John’s IceCaps in the AHL.
- The Canadiens hit the ice at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Monday morning ahead of their game against the Blue Jackets.
- P.K. Subban was the only Hab not on the ice for practice, missing Monday’s skate with a virus. He will be a game-time decision in Columbus. If Subban does miss Monday’s game, it will mark the first time he’s been out of the lineup for illness or injury reasons since he made his NHL debut on Feb. 12, 2010, making the 26-year-old assistant captain the team’s current Iron Man, with 254 consecutive games played.
“We’ll see how he feels tonight. He didn’t feel good yesterday, but he felt a little bit better this morning,” confirmed head coach Michel Therrien. “He’s started eating, which is a good sign. But we’ll see how he feels tonight and we’ll take a decision from there.”
- After skating with the group for the last few practices, Tom Gilbert continues to inch closer to returning from his lower-body injury. Therrien confirmed that if Subban is not able to play in Columbus, Gilbert or Greg Pateryn would replace him in the lineup.
- After turning the page on a tough stretch that saw the team go 5-16-1 dating back to Dec. 1, the Habs will be looking to build on Saturday’s shootout win in Toronto with a second-straight road victory – something the team hasn’t been able to accomplish since posting back-to-back wins in New York and New Jersey on Nov. 27 and 28, respectively.
“Before the Toronto game, our focus was that we wanted a total reset. It’s the same thing tonight,” said Brendan Gallagher, who has five points in nine games since returning from surgery to repair two broken fingers. “You can’t really pay attention to the standings or what’s going on around the league. We can only take care of ourselves. It’s an important game – a road game – and we only have a couple of games left before the break so we want to get some points here. It starts tonight with a good effort so we can go into the break feeling good about ourselves.”
- With just three goals on their last 34 power play opportunities and currently sitting 24th in the league with a 17.2 percent power play efficiency, it was no surprise to see the Habs making some tweaks on the man advantage on Monday morning.
“If there’s an aspect of our game where I believe we have to be better, it’s the power play. We’re going to try different things tonight, but we need better reads and better execution. We’re going to go with a different format to give ourselves a chance to have more success, but definitely we need to attack the zone with a lot more speed,” explained Therrien, who had David Desharnais and Tomas Plekenac taking turns on the point during the morning skate. “We’re standing still too much. We’re going to make some adjustments there, but at the end of the day, it’s good reads and good execution.”
- Both teams will be without their Vezina Trophy-winning starting netminders on Monday night, with Carey Price and Sergei Bobrovsky both sidelined with lower body injuries. Mike Condon will start for the Habs, while fellow rookie Joonas Korpisalo will be between the pipes for the Blue Jackets.
“It’s never easy to lose your No. 1 goalie, there’s no doubt about that,” admitted Therrien, who has been forced to play without his All-Star starter in the lineup for 25 games already this season. “But if you look at the Blue Jackets, they’re still fighting. Forget about their first 10 games – they had a really tough start – but since then, they’ve been in the middle of the pack with everyone. They work hard. They have forwards who can score goals, they’ve got talented, young defensemen, and it’s a challenge to miss their goalie like it is for us, but this is a team that works very hard.”
- In addition to their starting goalie, the Blue Jackets will also be without the services of head coach John Tortorella on Monday and Tuesday night after the Columbus bench boss was accidently taken out by one of his players during an outdoor practice and suffered a pair of broken ribs – something Therrien understands all too well.
“It happened to me twice in my career where I had broken ribs,” recalled Therrien, who was accidently knocked over from behind by Ryan White in Brossard on Feb. 4, 2014, after breaking three ribs on a similar accidental spill during a practice while coaching the Penguins a few years earlier. “I don’t know how Torts feels, but if he’s not there, he must be in a lot of pain. I was behind the bench and it was not easy. I’m sure he’s really well surrounded and the coaches will prepare their team well.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST at Nationwide Arena and will be broadcast on Sportsnet East, RDS, 98,5 FM, and TSN 690.
LINES AND DEFENSE PAIRINGS AT PRACTICEPacioretty-Plekanec-Gallagher
Flynn-Mitchell-De La Rose/Smith-Pelly
Words from the room
Game Preview: Canadiens vs Blue Jackets
- After a late arrival in Columbus following the team’s shootout win in Toronto, the Canadiens held an optional practice at Nationwide Arena on Sunday afternoon. Nine players took part, including Daniel Carr, Greg Pateryn, Tomas Plekanec, Brian Flynn, Jacob De La Rose, Devante Smith-Pelly, Mark Barberio, Tom Gilbert, and Ben Scrivens.
- Michel Therrien indicated that while Gilbert is inching closer to returning from the lower body injury that has kept him out of the lineup since Dec. 22.
- Therrien also confirmed that Mike Condon would be between the pipes on Monday night in Columbus. He won his only other career start against the Blue Jackets earlier this season, a 2-1 victory on Dec. 1 at the Bell Centre.
Boxscore vs. Toronto
TORONTO – The Canadiens skated at the Air Canada Centre ahead of Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. All players took part in the morning skate.
- Daniel Carr will be back in action on Saturday after being recalled from St. John’s on Thursday afternoon. One of the team’s most consistent goal scorers over the month of December with four in 12 games, the 24-year-old forward will skate on a line with Lars Eller and Tomas Fleischmann against the Leafs.
“He’s small, but he’s gritty. This is all part of the process for a young player. We lost Paul Byron who was playing really well before he was injured and he was playing probably some of the best hockey of his career up to that point,” said head coach Michel Therrien. “When a guy gets injured, it opens the door for someone else. In the case of Carr, he’s coming back up with a level of confidence he might not have had early on because he was new to the NHL. He knows what to expect now.”
- Despite having gone 4-16-1 since December 3, the Habs are heading into Saturday’s game feeling optimistic about their ability to turn things around in Toronto. Coming off a team meeting that included general manager Marc Bergevin, the Canadiens are ready to put the past behind them and look to the future, beginning with a rivalry tilt in the Ontario capital.
“We’ve come to terms with what’s happened and we’re ready to turn the page. We’re only looking ahead; we’re not looking at the past at all,” stressed captain Max Pacioretty. “Obviously we didn’t want any of that to happen, but our goal now it to focus on the present and not get caught up in what’s happened. Hopefully individuals can start gaining some confidence here as games go on in the future.
“It’s always emotional playing Toronto,” he added. “It’s a great rivalry. And playing in this building on a Saturday night, you know everyone is watching and all eyes are on this game. Guys tend to step up when the spotlight is on. It’s going to be a fun, exciting game.”
- The league’s highest scoring team at the beginning of the campaign, the Habs have had troubles finding the back of the net of late. About to face Leafs goalie James Reimer, who has allowed just three goals on 74 shots in the last two games, the team’s snipers know they’ll have their work cut out for them when it comes to lighting the lamp at the ACC. Luckily, they’ve had some practice scoring on elite netminders over the years.
“We’ve been struggling to score goals and we know they have a hot goaltender over there, but at the end of the day, we can only worry about our own game. We need to take away his eyes and get second and third chances,” prescribed Pacioretty, who leads the Habs with 19 goals in 2015-16. “We’ve seen it over the years when the only way to beat Carey is to take away his eyes – he can’t stop what he can’t see. We have to do that tonight and make sure we get dirty. That team plays with a lot of pride, so we have to make sure we match their intensity from the puck drop.”
- While he agrees that starting a scoring streak begins by going back to basics, P.K. Subban also knows the prep work for success has to come long before the team hits the ice for the 7:00 p.m. puck drop in Toronto.
“A big part of success in this league is how much confidence you have,” explained Subban. “I feel that the more confident you are, the more you start to see bounces go your way. We have to find ways to feel confident. Sometimes that’s just your preparation as a pro and that’s individual. That has nothing to do with the coach or your teammates; it’s you. We know how to do it and we just have to get back to doing those little things.”
-After leaving Tuesday’s game against the Bruins having played just 4:43 before being sidelined with a lower body injury, Nathan Beaulieu will be back in action on Saturday night alongside Mark Barberio.
-Mike Condon will get his 32nd start of the campaign on Saturday night, facing the Leafs for the first time in the regular season after shutting out Toronto 1-0 in a preseason win this September.
LINES AND DEFENSE PAIRINGSPacioretty-Plekanec-Gallagher
Words from the room
Game Preview: Canadiens vs Maple Leafs
A true believer
- The Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday morning before boarding a charter flight to Toronto where they’ll battle the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
- Prior to the start of practice, Carey Price hit the ice once again with head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend. The Canadiens’ No. 31 wasn’t sporting any equipment, though. On Thursday, general manager Marc Bergevin confirmed that the Anahim Lake, BC native would continue to be sidelined for at least the next three to four weeks.
- After missing Thursday’s on-ice session, Nathan Beaulieu and Jacob De La Rose both skated on Friday morning. Beaulieu missed practice due to an upper-body injury, while De La Rose was sidelined with the flu.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Mike Condon would get the start in goal against the Maple Leafs.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – Desharnais – Weise
Fleischmann – Eller – Carr
Flynn – Mitchell – Smith-Pelly
De La Rose
Markov – Subban
Emelin – Petry
Beaulieu – Barberio
Pateryn – Gilbert
The Canadiens announced late Thursday afternoon that forward Daniel Carr has been recalled from the St. John’s IceCaps. Carr will join the team for Friday morning’s practice before the team departs for Toronto.
In his first call-up to the NHL, Carr registered five goals and seven points in 17 games prior to being assigned to the American Hockey League on Jan. 14. The 24-year-old played three games with the IceCaps last week, where he scored two goals and added two assists.