- The Canadiens held an optional skate on Saturday morning at the Pepsi Center in Denver ahead of their game against the Avalanche. Seven Habs players took part in the skate, including Max Pacioretty, Ryan White, Michael Blunden, Greg Pateryn, George Parros and goaltenders Peter Budaj and Carey Price. Goaltending coach Stephane Waite was on the ice as well for the duration of the on-ice session.
- Budaj will be making his third start of the season for the Canadiens on Saturday night against the Avs. The Slovakian netminder holds a 54-37-13 lifetime record at the Pepsi Center with a 2.63 GAA. Saturday night’s tilt will mark Budaj’s first career start in the building as a member of the Canadiens. He called the Pepsi Center home as a member of the Avalanche for six seasons.
- Max Pacioretty will return to the Canadiens lineup on Saturday night for the first time since suffering a left hamstring strain on Oct. 15 in a game against the Jets in Winnipeg. Absent for the last nine games, the power forward, who has amassed two goals and three points in five games thus far this season, has been chomping at the bit to return to action.
"A few days ago, they made a plan for me that I would play one of the two games on the trip. Obviously, I wanted to play them both. I have to do everything I can to help the team win tonight," affirmed Pacioretty, who as of the morning skate hadn't been made aware of his linemates for the tilt against head coach Patrick Roy's squad. "I felt bad for about a week after the injury. I’ve been feeling 100 percent for around a week now. I’m ready to play my game."
- Prior to the start of Saturday night’s game, the Avalanche will raise defenseman Adam Foote’s number 52 to the rafters at the Pepsi Center. Foote spent 17 of his 19 NHL seasons in the Nordiques/Avalanche organization. The ceremony will be held at 6:55 p.m. MT.
Game preview: Canadiens @ Avalanche
Top - Patrick Roy
24CH: Flash #15
Onward and upward
- The Canadiens skated at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday morning ahead of their tilt against the Minnesota Wild.
- Prior to the start of practice, players lined up for a group photo alongside their guests who accompanied them on the Father & Son Roadtrip to Minnesota and Colorado. Twenty fathers were on site at the rink on Friday morning, along with countless sons, friends and relatives of Canadiens players and staffers.
For Brendan Gallagher, any opportunity to play in front of his father, Ian, is something the 21-year-old looks forward to. The Edmonton, AB native believes that having family and friends in attendance at the Xcel Energy Center provides added incentive for the players to put on a good show and pick up an all-important victory.
“You always want to play well, but when you have people that are very important to you and special to you and that meant a lot to your career, you want to bring your best. You want to show up, you want to play hard,” acknowledged Gallagher, who has five goals and eight points in 13 games thus far this season. “I know the guys in here will do that because each and every one has talked how much our dads gave up so much for us to be where we are today. So, tonight hopefully we can go out there and pay a little bit back to them and reward them with a win.”
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Carey Price will make his 12th start of the season for the Canadiens on Friday night. The Habs bench boss also confirmed that Peter Budaj will be between the pipes against the Avalanche to close out the road trip on Saturday night in Colorado. He also indicated that Max Pacioretty will likely make his return to the lineup against the Avalanche. The New Canaan, CT native had been sidelined since suffering a left hamstring injury in a tilt on Oct. 15 in Winnipeg.
- George Parros will make his much-anticipated return to the Canadiens lineup on Friday night against the Wild. Parros suffered a concussion on Oct. 1 in the season-opener against the Maple Leafs.
Back on the ice in the Twin Cities sans his trademark mustache, the 33-year-old is prepared to return to active duty.
“I feel lighter and quicker [without the mustache], but less manly,” joked Parros, who shaved off his mustache in honor of Movember prior to the team’s departure on Thursday. “I feel good. I’m at the point where I can get back to playing with confidence. I’m not going to rush it. That’s important when it comes to this type of injury. I’m ready to play.”
- Michel Therrien will be coaching across from a familiar face on Friday night in Wild bench boss, Mike Yeo. The pair spent seven years together in the Pittsburgh organization. Therrien has the utmost respect for his coaching counterpart, who also just happens to be the youngest coach in the NHL.
“We worked together in Wilkes-Barre. When I got to Pittsburgh, we moved up together. I really enjoyed my time with Mike Yeo. He’s got great work ethic. He’s a smart hockey mind. He’s really well-respected by his players,” offered Therrien. “I really enjoyed my time with him. I tried to help him and he certainly helped me, too. I’m really pleased with the success he’s had with the Wild. I knew that down the road he would eventually get a shot to be a head coach in the NHL.”
Game Preview: Canadiens @ Wild
Words from the room - Nov. 1
Max Pacioretty and George Parros both practiced with their teammates in white full-contact jerseys. Pacioretty had been out due to a lower-body injury, while Parros’ recovery is on schedule after suffering a concussion during the season-opening game against Toronto.
George Parros will be in the lineup against Minnesota on Friday, while Pacioretty is also close to making a return, as per head coach Michel Therrien.
Alexei Emelin participated in a full practice session for the first time wearing a blue non-contact jersey.
After the practice, the Canadiens announced that they have agreed on a four-year deal with Emelin.
Carey Price will start against the Wild.
Lines at practice:
Galchenyuk – Eller - Gallagher
Bournival – Plekanec – Gionta
Bourque – Desharnais – Leblanc
Blunden – White - Pacioretty
Markov – Subban
Gorges - Diaz
Murray – Bouillon
Emelin - Pateryn
“You can’t forget that [the Rangers] will be playing their first game at home, in front of their crowd. They’ll be ready,” warned the Canadiens’ head coach Michel Therrien.
|Louis is back|
- Recalled from the Bulldogs on Sunday night, Louis Leblanc and Greg Pateryn skated in company of their new teammates. Leblanc will line up alongside Rene Bourque and David Desharnais to give the team a third offensive option behind the productive lines of Galchenyuk-Eller-Gallagher and Bournival-Plekanec-Gionta. Called up after a series of dominating performances in the AHL, Leblanc is eager to get a chance to make a mark at the top level.
“I’m happy to be here,” said the 2009 first-round draft pick, who lined up alongside Nick Tarnasky and Gabriel Dumont on Hamilton’s top line. A late cut during training camp, Leblanc took to heart the advice of the Montreal coaching staff. “I know that management recall players based on merit; I’ve played well in the last few games and I’m excited for tonight.”
“You can skate well and shoot well, but when the puck doesn’t go in, it’s tough on your energy level. But once you’ve scored, you get on a roll and you have to use that momentum,” continued Leblanc, who has four goals and two assists in his last three AHL appearances.
- Douglas Murray skated wearing a regular red jersey and will play his first regular season game as a Hab. A veteran of 465 regular season games, Murray will be stepping on the ice for the first time wearing the CH crest.
“It’s exciting. I definitely would have liked to get into a match earlier in the year, but it’s good to be able to play finally. I don’t play hockey just to train in the gym or do off-ice workouts. Playing matches is a lot more fun,” an enthusiastic Murray stated after practice. His coach believes that the Swede will bring value to the team’s blueline corps during a busy week.
“Murray will play tonight. For sure I would have liked to have him practice a few more times with the team, but we have five matches in eight days,” offered Therrien. “He’s a veteran, he brings a presence, and he’s good on the penalty kill. Of course, it’ll take some time for him to find his timing; we’ll be patient with him.”
After missing out on game action due to an upper-body injury suffered in training camp, number 6 will no doubt feel a tinge of nervousness when the puck drops, but his likely defense partner Francis Bouillon doesn’t think it will negatively affect the pairing’s effectiveness.
“For me, I find it’s good to be a bit nervous before a game. It means you want to make a good impression. I’ll have some butterflies in my stomach for sure, but it won’t prevent me from playing my game,” insisted Bouillon, a native New-Yorker.
- Peter Budaj will be get his second start of the season, as the Habs will be playing on back-to-back nights. They will be back at the Bell Centre to take on the Stars Tuesday night. Budaj has a 2-1 career record against the Blueshirts.
- Travis Moen did not make the trip due to a facial injury suffered after he was hit by a puck on Saturday night against the Sharks. Coach Therrien clarified the situation after practice.
“When I first spoke about Travis’ injury [Saturday night], I said he had a cut to his face. After some tests, it’s been determined that he has a small fracture [to his orbital bone]. It’s not too serious,” the Habs’ coach explained. The bruising forward will be out for about a week.
- George Parros, still on the mend, traveled with the team to New York and took to the ice wearing a blue no contact jersey.
Lines at practice:Galchenyuk – Eller - Gallagher
Bournival – Plekanec – Gionta
Bourque – Desharnais – Leblanc
Blunden – White - Holland
Markov – Subban
Gorges - Diaz
Murray – Bouillon
Game Preview: Canadiens @ Rangers
On the road: NYC
The Canadiens have recalled defenseman Greg Pateryn from the Hamilton Bulldogs. He will be at practice this morning in New York.
- Travis Moen will not make the trip to New York (injured).
- Patrick Holland remains with the team and will be on the trip to New York today.
- Louis Leblanc was called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs tonight. He will meet the team in New York and should be part of the morning skate on Monday.
BROSSARD – The Habs held an optional morning skate on Saturday at the Bell Sports Complex, ahead of the evening matchup against the San Jose Sharks.
George Parros, wearing a no-contact blue jersey, once again skated with his teammates.
Douglas Murray participated in the practice wearing a regular red jersey.
After practice, two of the Canadiens’ recent call-ups talked about what it means to play against the 8-1-1 Sharks, one of the NHL’s strongest teams so far in the 2013-14 season.
“There are lots of good players in the league and San Jose is one of the best teams out there,” rookie right-winger Patrick Holland acknowledged. “Third game out, I’m getting familiar with the system and my linemates, we’re just going to keep it simple and earn the trust of the coaching staff. The chances are so rare in this league that an odd-man rush is sometimes the difference. You have to play so solid because as soon as you make a mistake, the other team is there to capitalize on it. You just have to bear down, wait for the other team’s mistakes and take advantage of that.”
Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu agrees that most of the game, at the pro level, is played between the ears.
“It’s important not to get too comfortable and feel like you can take a night off in this league. Anaheim was a good team and I thought we played well against them. Tonight it’s not going to be easy, it’ll take the whole team’s effort,” the rookie insisted. “We feel good coming off our last win, so it’s important to keep that going. It was tough being in and out of the line-up earlier this month, but now that I’m playing more, I feel a lot more confident on the ice. It’s tough to get your legs going when you don’t play a lot, and going from the American league to the NHL is a big jump, but mostly it’s a head game. You have to be mentally prepared, wherever you are.”
Facing off against the team which gave him his first taste of the NHL, assistant captain Josh Gorges believes that the 6-4 Habs can give the Sharks everything they can handle, and more.
“We’re going to need to be at our best tonight. We’re playing arguably the best team in the NHL right now. It’ll be a fight for the entire game. We need to play clean, sharp and compact. It’s a great challenge for us. As an athlete, you want to play against the best, and go stride for stride with them,” Gorges insisted.
- The Canadiens skated in Brossard on Friday morning following their 4-1 victory over the Ducks on Thursday night at the Bell Centre. They’ll be back in action against the Sharks on Saturday night.
- George Parros practiced alongside his teammates for a second consecutive day sporting a blue “no contact” jersey.
- Douglas Murray practiced with his teammates for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on September 29th. Murray was sporting a red jersey suggesting that he might have been cleared for contact by team doctors. He is currently listed as day-to-day, but will not play on Saturday night against San Jose.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of their game against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night. Fifteen skaters and both goalies practiced; Tomas Plekanec, Francis Bouillon, David Desharnais, Ryan White and Travis Moen did not take part.
- After a strong start to his season with the Bulldogs, Greg Pateryn was called up from Hamilton on Wednesday night and joined the Canadiens on the ice for practice on Thursday morning. While he’s not expected to be in the lineup against the Ducks, the 23-year-old blue-liner is looking forward to making the most of his latest stint in Montreal.
“I got a lot of playing time down there. I got some power play and penalty kill time and got some good minutes in and it paid off,” explained Pateryn, who has four points in five games to co-lead the Bulldogs in points. “I think getting the opportunities on the power play helps, but it’s just the little things like getting shots through. When you have good enough net front presence, good things are bound to happen. Points are kind of just a bonus. I pride myself on my D zone coverage and my first pass out of the zone. I think that’s something I need to master to make a profession here in the NHL. I’ll just take it one day at a time here. When I get my chance in the lineup, I’m going to just play my game.”
|Parros back with his teammates|
- Also back in the mix on Thursday morning, George Parros skated with the team for the first time since suffering a concussion during the home opener on Oct. 1. Inching closer to making his return to action, the symptom-free forward isn’t planning on adapting his rugged brand of hockey when he does finally slip back into his usual spot.
“Given my status and role, I just want to make sure everything is clear to play,” shared Parros, who had been skating with fellow injured Habs Douglas Murray and Alexei Emelin for the past few days. “I’m not trying to force this back or rush back to the ice by any means. I’m trying to make sure I do things the right way and take care of the head first.”
After being taken off the ice in a stretcher following a nasty, chin-first fall to the ice during a fight with Leafs forward Colton Orr, Parros listened to the league-wide debate about the future of fighting in the game. While he brings more to the lineup than a mean right hook, the 33-year-old appreciates the finer points of how a well-timed bout can change the momentum of a match.
“I’m not happy that they would use a fight of mine to say there’s no more room for fighting in the league. Obviously I’m going to be a proponent of fighting; I think there’s a place for it,” stressed the Princeton Economics grad. “My mindset is fine; we play a tough game out here and honestly, something like that can happen at any point, whether it’s a fight or not. The ice is a hard surface, the boards are a hard surface and it’s been a freaky year where a lot of guys have been taken off on stretchers unfortunately since the beginning of the season. This league is trying to cut back on those incidents and the players are, too. We all want that.
“If you can keep pace with the game and play and be an asset to your team and not a detriment and still fight, you’re one of the greatest assets on the team,” he added. “I think a lot of teams like to have a guy who can fight but also play and keep pace with the game.”
- With former Habs captain Saku Koivu about to return to the Bell Centre for just the second time since leaving as a free agent in 2009, emotions are likely running high in the visitors dressing room ahead of Thursday’s game. Having stood on the Canadiens bench as the Bell Centre faithful gave Koivu an emotional welcome back from cancer in April 2002, Francis Bouillon still remembers the chills he had watching his captain make his comeback 11 years ago.
“We experienced a lot of emotions when Saku came back. The Bell Centre was incredible that night. That was the most emotional I’ve ever felt during my time with the Canadiens. Saku was always appreciated here, both by the fans and by the players as a person and as a teammate. He’s a guy who worked hard to get where he is and he was a great captain.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Bell Centre.