- The Canadiens held a rare game day skate at the Bell Centre on Saturday morning in preparation for their tilt against the visiting Detroit Red Wings. The team practiced in downtown Montreal as part of Tim Hortons Coaching Day.
- Carey Price will make his fifth start of the season in goal on Saturday. The All-Star netminder holds a 7-3-1 record against Detroit all-time, with a 0.919 save percentage and 2.43 goals against average. Last season, Price went a perfect 3-0-0 against the Red Wings.
- Since taking part in the NHL season opener on October 7 in Toronto, head coach Michel Therrien has iced the same lineup up front every night, and will do so again on Saturday against the Wings.
“Chemistry and stability - it’s rare to see that so soon and for so long, but that’s been the case for us, and we’re being rewarded for it,” underlined Pacioretty, who should once again flank Tomas Plekanec opposite Brendan Gallagher on the first line. “Now it’s our job to keep it going.”
Indeed, with every player having now made a mark on the scoresheet except three after just two weeks of action, Therrien has little incentive to start mixing things up.
“We get a lot of momentum from shift to shift. We don’t have to worry about matchups, because we know that all our lines are firing, and anybody can go out there against any pairing,” continued the Habs captain, who leads the team with six points after five games. “We’re rolling four lines, we’re always in the game, and we’re never getting tired because of it. I think it’s been a big thing for us.”
Chemistry and stability meanwhile are all Tomas Fleischmann has gotten to know since joining the Canadiens this fall as a free agent, and the former Anaheim Duck has quickly gelled with his new company, scoring each of the Habs’ last two game-winners.
“We have a really good center. [David Desharnais] wins a lot of face offs and supports us everywhere on the ice. You’ve got to give him a lot of credit for our success,” added the 31-year-old Czech. “He’s a great skilled player, and very good defensively. I’ve enjoyed playing with him and [Dale Weise] here.”
- The Canadiens take on the Red Wings for the first time without Mike Babcock at the helm since 2005 on Saturday. Despite the offseason coaching change however, the Wings arrive in Montreal with an impressive 3-1-0 record.
“They’re a motivated team. It’s the first major change they’ve had in awhile so they’re playing motivated hockey. Coming in with a tough loss last night, they’re going to want to turn things back around tonight, but I’m expecting a lot of energy from our guys too because it’s Saturday night in Montreal,” acknowledged Pacioretty.
“I always like playing against Detroit, so I’m looking forward to tonight. I think they’ve been one of the top teams in the NHL for a long time, even before Babcock arrived,” stressed Fleischmann. “That’s still the case now because they have a lot of very good players. It’s going to be a good matchup for us.”
- The Habs worked on the power play once again on Saturday, looking to improve on the club’s 9.5% efficiency with the man advantage thus far.
“We need to continue generating shots and feeling confident shooting the puck. It’s hard to create chances for your teammates if you’re worried about your shot getting blocked. You want to have positive energy on the ice. Sometimes it’ll work and sometimes it won’t, but if guys want to block a shot -- let them, because we know that they’ll have to pay the price for it,” prescribed power play specialist P.K. Subban. “We’ve all been playing hockey for a long time, and we know how to have success on the power play -- get pucks on net, traffic in front of it, and create second and third chances. I think we’ve done a good job of that so far.”
Fortunately, the team can also count on experience behind the bench with the addition of Craig Ramsay to the coaching staff this season.
“He brings some experience and knowledge that you can’t really pick up unless you’ve been around for as long as he has,” acknowledged Subban. “He studies teams so he already gave us some great insight on the team we’re playing tonight,”
“He’s a guy with a lot of experience, and he understands the little things. It’s nice to have another voice in the room,” agreed Brendan Gallagher. “We don’t like that the power play isn’t doing it’s job, and we’re hungry to correct that.”
- Off to their hottest start in franchise history after going 5-0-0 to start the season, the Habs insist it’s nevertheless been business as usual both on the ice and behind closed doors.
“Things don’t feel any different on our side, but anyone playing us knows that we haven’t lost a game yet. We just hope that doesn’t change any time soon,” admitted Subban. “We had a good practice this morning and we’ll be well rested for the game because the majority of our guys didn’t skate on Friday. We play a very demanding style of hockey and we’ll need to outwork the Red Wings tonight.”
The Habs are one of just two undefeated teams remaining in the NHL, along with the 4-0-0 San Jose Sharks, illustrating just how impressive -- and tough -- the feat has been to accomplish thus far.
“We’ve been able to pick up some quick points here at the beginning, but that needs to continue,” concluded the star defenseman.
- After setting a new franchise mark with their fifth straight win to the start the season in a 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex on Friday morning.
- Prior to the start of practice, the Canadiens announced that veteran Tomas Plekanec had signed a two-year contract extension. The Czech centerman has four goals thus far this season.
- Plekanec was among nine players hitting the ice on the South Shore under the watchful eyes of assistant coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault and goaltending coach Stephane Waite. Also present were forwards Paul Byron, Alexander Semin, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Brian Flynn, along with defensemen Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn and Jarred Tinordi. Mike Condon was the lone goaltender to lace up his skates.
- Michel Therrien’s troops will be back in action on Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre. They’ll be looking to extend their current winning streak to six games.
- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning in preparation for their tilt against the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre.
- Thursday night’s home-opener will mark the first of three meetings between the two teams. Last season, Michel Therrien’s troops posted a 2-1-0 record against the Blueshirts.
- Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens, while Henrik Lundqvist will get the nod for New York. Price has been strong against the Rangers over the course of his career, posting a 10-5-1 record, a 1.86 goals-against average, and a .940 save percentage in 17 previous outings, along with six shutouts. For his part, Lundqvist is 14-13-2 in 30 career appearances against the Canadiens. He’s registered a 2.70 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage during that span.
- Following Thursday’s morning skate, the Canadiens were adamant that keeping their emotions in check early on will be an important key to victory against Alain Vigneault’s squad, especially on opening night.
“I think everybody’s excited, but we’ve got to find the right balance between being too excited and being ready to play. It’s a challenge for everybody. It’s hard to come home after four games on the road. We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves, but we’ve just got to stay humble,” explained Lars Eller, referencing the Canadiens’ perfect 4-0-0 record heading into their first game of the year on home ice. “We’re playing a very good team tonight. At the end of the day, it’s just another game once the puck drops.”
Eller is certainly right about the Rangers. They’ve started the season strong by winning their first three games before coming up short against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
“They’re a good team. I expect them to come out hard. They’re well-coached and they work hard. They play their system, and they’ve got guys who can put the puck in the net. We have to be prepared to play our best game of the season tonight. No question,” shared P.K. Subban, who has four assists and a plus-5 differential through four games this season. “When we played them a few years ago in the playoffs, they came into our arena and they took it to us even though there was plenty of emotion in the building. We don’t expect them to take a step back because it’s our home opener. We have to be ready to play 60 minutes, and maybe even more.”
- Should the Canadiens pick up another W on Thursday night, they’d become the first team in franchise history to start a regular season campaign with five straight victories. While it might be a significant accomplishment, it really is the furthest thing from the players’ minds right now.
“It shouldn’t change anything. I’d rather be 4-0 than 0-4. There would be more pressure the other way around,” mentioned Eller, who has two goals on the year. “I think we’re in the position we want to be in. It would be nice to keep rolling and have a perfect record, but I think we’ve really got to look at it as we move on from what has happened in the past. We’ve got to start building a good home record.”
The Canadiens’ bench boss wouldn’t have his players thinking any other way.
“This is exactly where you don’t want to go. Like we were saying on Wednesday, we have to stay humble. We have to take one game at the time,” stressed Therrien. “I don’t want to think too far ahead. I’m only focused on tonight.”
- Subban was among many Canadiens players tuning in to the deciding game of the Toronto Blue Jays – Texas Rangers series on Wednesday afternoon to cheer on his hometown team. Needless to say, the result – and Jose Bautista’s noteworthy bat flip – put a big smile on the Norris Trophy winning rearguard’s face.
“It’s just great for Canada, and it’s great for people from Toronto and Blue Jays fans. Just being someone from Toronto, it’s great to be able to support a hometown team. Obviously, we know the relationship between the Habs and Leafs, so I’m happy to be able to support at least one of my hometown teams,” offered Subban, whose beloved Blue Jays moved on to the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals after posting a 6-3 victory over Texas at the Rogers Centre. “For Jose Bautista, it was a pretty special moment. He’s put in his time as a Blue Jay, and it’s good to see him get rewarded for all of the hard work he’s put in trying to do the best that he can to help the team win. He’s a passionate guy. I loved [his bat flip]. It’s a special moment. I hope he does it again. I thought it even made it that much better.”
With that in mind, will No. 76 be trying to imitate Bautista after lighting the lamp in the near future? Not necessarily.
“I don’t know if I can do a stick flip out there,” cracked Subban. “Maybe after a one-timer, you might flip the stick. I don’t know. That’s not really my style. I’ll leave the flipping to Joey Bats for now.”
- Opening ceremonies at the Bell Centre will begin at 7:30 p.m. EST, while puck drop is scheduled for approximately 7:45 p.m. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet 360.
Probable lineup against the New York Rangers:
Coach Michel Therrien rewarded his club with an optional practice Wednesday afternoon after winning all four games on the team’s season opening road trip.
The optional practice was held at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, following Tuesday night’s 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Eight players were accounted for at practice this afternoon, including: Mike Condon, Devante Smith-Pelly, Brian Flynn, Paul Byron, David Desharnais, Greg Pateryn, Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi.
The Canadiens next game, the team’s home opener against the New York Rangers, is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
Following practice coach Michel Therrien confirmed that he will not be making any lineup changes ahead of Thursday night's home opener.
- After enjoying a day off on Monday, the Canadiens skated at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning ahead of their tilt against the Penguins.
- Carey Price will be back between the pipes on Tuesday night. He’s strung together a 10-10-3 record, a 2.93 goals-average and a .908 save percentage over the course of his career against the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury will get the nod for Pittsburgh. He boasts a 18-10-3 record, a 3.01 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage against Montreal.
- Following the morning skate, head coach Michel Therrien announced that he wouldn’t be making any changes to his lineup heading into Tuesday night’s game, with the exception of Carey Price tending goal. That means that newcomer Paul Byron will still have to wait to make his Canadiens debut.
- Even if the Canadiens’ power play has scored just once in 14 tries since October 7, Therrien is more concerned about wins than he is the man advantage. Nevertheless, with three wins and six points in the bank, the Canadiens spent a lot of time working on their power play during the morning skate.
“At this point in the year, we’re not necessarily looking to score a lot of goals. At 5-on-5, we’re capable of generating momentum and we certainly don’t want to lose momentum because of a power play. We haven’t been able to really practice it well because it requires repetition,” explained Therrien. “When something isn’t working, you have a tendency to go back to old habits. That’s what happened over the last two games and it wasn’t good. We took the time this morning to work on it so we don’t lose any momentum when we’re on the power play.”
- The Penguins have struggled to light the lamp early on this season, finding the back of the net just once in their first two games of the year while dropping contests in Dallas and Arizona. With the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel in their arsenal, though, defenseman Jeff Petry says paying any attention to the Penguins’ offensive struggles would be a serious mistake.
“You have to expect what they can bring to the table. I don’t think we should read too much into what happened in their first two games. We’ve got to focus on tonight,” stressed Petry, who has been the Canadiens’ third-most used rearguard through three games this year, averaging 22:08 of ice time per game. “I don’t think they’re going to be passive. I think they’re going to be putting pucks on net and getting bodies to the net. We have to do a good job at letting Price see the puck and boxing guys out so they don’t get their second chances. With those guys, you have to play them tight. They can make plays if they have the space. You’ve got to be in their face all night long.”
Like Petry, the Canadiens’ bench boss fully understands the tough task that awaits his group, especially with it being the Penguins’ first game of the year on home ice.
“It’s a big challenge. They have three scorers with the type of talent to score 50 goals. I’m not going to lie about it; the Penguins have a good offensive team,” admitted Therrien. “Even if they haven’t won their first two road games, I expect them to be fired up tonight.”
- Dale Weise will be playing his 100th career game with the Canadiens on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. The Winnipeg native, who was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in February 2014, is amazed at just how fast time has flown by since joining the CH.
“One hundred games with this team is pretty special, especially with it being my favorite team growing up. It’s been cool. I can’t believe it’s been that quick. I’m pretty excited about it,” offered Weise, who has put up 13 goals and 33 points in his 99 previous regular season outings with the bleu-blanc-rouge, but is still looking for his first point of the 2015-16 campaign. “Coming here, it was the first opportunity I had in the NHL to play more than five minutes a night. I’ve certainly enjoyed it. We’ve got a great group of guys here. We’ve got a great team. Going forward, I expect special things from our team.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and City TV.
Probable lineup against the Penguins:
- Only a few extra players hit the ice at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Sunday morning as head coach Michel Therrien gave his troops the opportunity to rest following Saturday night's 4-2 win in Boston.
- Prior to Sunday night's tilt, Therrien will meet the media at 4:45 p.m. EST.
- The Canadiens skated at TD Garden in Boston on Saturday morning in preparation for their tilt against the Bruins. It will mark the start of a tough stretch for Michel Therrien’s troops, as they will be playing three games in the next four nights on opposition ice.
- As announced on Friday prior to the team’s departure for Massachusetts, Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens, while Mike Condon will be between the pipes on Sunday night in Ottawa. Price has made 33 career starts against Boston, compiling a 21-8-3 record, a 2.38 goals-against average, and a .923 save percentage during that span.
- The Canadiens will not be featuring any lineup changes on Saturday night. That means that both Greg Pateryn and Jarred Tinordi will be healthy scratches once again on defense, while newcomer Paul Byron will also be watching the game from the press box.
- During Saturday’s morning skate, the Canadiens focused their efforts on faceoffs and the need for wingers to support their centermen, too. The CH was a force to be reckoned with on draws last season, finishing fourth in the league in that department by coming out on top 52.1 percent of the time.
“Centermen aren’t the only people responsible for faceoffs. There are a lot of 50-50 situations where pucks come loose and our wingers need to help us out,” explained David Desharnais, who won just 29 percent of his draws during the season-opener in Toronto on Wednesday night. “That’s something everyone needs to be thinking about. We lost a lot of faceoffs last game. The pucks were loose in front of or behind us. As centermen, we need to do a better job, but we also have to work better as a unit of five.”
- Saturday night’s tilt at TD Garden will be the first of five regular season meetings between the Canadiens and the Bruins during the 2015-16 campaign. It’s a matchup both squads have marked on their respective calendars, especially with valuable points at stake in a highly competitive Atlantic Division.
“Any time we play Boston, it’s a playoff atmosphere. Saturday night, Hockey Night in Canada, that brings out the best in our team, too. Regardless of who they have in their lineup, Boston-Montreal is always going to be a rivalry,” offered Dale Weise, referencing the noticeable changes the Bruins’ lineup underwent during the offseason, including the departure of tough guy Milan Lucic. “It makes our job a little easier without having him out there. He’s a horse to handle and you’ve always got to be aware when he’s on the ice. But, picking up [Matt] Beleskey, I know him from the West a little bit. He’s a big body. He plays hard. There’s also Jimmy Hayes who we saw a lot of in Florida. And, with a goaltender like Rask, similar to us, you always have a chance.”
While contests pitting Michel Therrien’s troops against Claude Julien’s contingent tend to get ultra-competitive and highly emotional, Weise says it’s all a part of what makes this particular matchup so unique and special.
“At the end of the day, it’s just a game that we’re playing out here. Emotions do get a little heavy. After games, people might say things that they regret later. At the end of the day, though, we probably sit around as a team and laugh about some of the stuff that comes up,” admitted Weise, who has two goals and four points in six career regular season games against Boston. “It’s all part of the game. Boston-Montreal rivalry. That’s what everyone wants to be a part of.”
- One line that certainly held its own in the Canadiens’ last outing was that of Brian Flynn, Torrey Mitchell and Devante Smith-Pelly. Even if they logged just 12 minutes of ice time, they still managed to give the Leafs’ defenders serious fits all game long by playing a physical brand of hockey and being aggressive with their forechecking.
“We’re all similar guys. They’re fast and they get in on the forecheck. Mitchy and I played a lot together last year, so we’re all pretty familiar with each other’s tendencies. It’s pretty easy for us to play as a group,” offered Smith-Pelly. “You know they’re going to dump it in and we’re going to have to get in and chase it and play physical on their defensemen. It’s easy for any of us to anticipate, keep our feet moving and get in and forecheck.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
Probable lineup against the Bruins:
Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Lars Eller – Alex Galchenyuk – Alexander Semin
Tomas Fleischmann – David Desharnais – Dale Weise
Brian Flynn – Torrey Mitchell – Devante Smith-Pelly
BROSSARD – The Canadiens returned to the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard for practice Friday morning before departing for Boston where they will face the Bruins Saturday night.
All players were accounted for on the ice, including newcomer Paul Byron, claimed off waivers from the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.
After practice, Michel Therrien confirmed that Paul Byron would make his Canadiens debut during the team’s next road trip, stating that he has not decided when number 41 will play his first game.
The coach also announced that rookie Mike Condon will make his first career start in the NHL against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday.
Lines and D pairings at Tuesday's practice:
- The Canadiens skated at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Wednesday morning in preparation for their regular-season opener against the Maple Leafs.
- Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens. It will mark the 427th start of Price’s career. He boasts a 17-13-1 record, a 2.59 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 31 career starts against Toronto.
- Just one day after being claimed off waivers by the Canadiens, centerman Paul Byron took part in Wednesday’s morning skate. The 26-year-old Ottawa native rotated with Brian Flynn on a line with Torrey Mitchell and Devante Smith-Pelly. Following practice, however, Byron confirmed that he would not be suiting up against the Leafs, mentioning that he still had to familiarize himself with the Canadiens’ systems.
“My friends and family are really excited to come support me and watch me play. I couldn’t be happier to be here right now,” offered Byron, who put up six goals and 19 points in 57 games with the Calgary Flames last season. “I definitely had a tough end to the year last year with a couple of injuries. But, everything has healed up and I feel ready to turn the page, move on and start a new chapter in my life. I’m really excited about this year. I feel like I took big steps last year in my game, and I know I can get better. I know I can bring a lot to this team.”
- The Maple Leafs enter the 2015-16 campaign with high hopes and new faces both on the ice and off it, too. Needless to say, the Canadiens are going up against a team that is very different than the one they battled a year ago on opening night when they earned a 4-3 victory at the ACC.
“There are nine new players with the Maple Leafs, new coaches and a new administration. I expect them to have better structure and offer up stiffer competition. I’ve experienced something similar before with the Penguins and the Canadiens. When you join a new team, you want to bring a certain structure and a certain measure of discipline,” mentioned head coach Michel Therrien, referencing, among other things, the arrival of Mike Babcock behind the Maple Leafs’ bench. “You want to make the playoffs. There’s a lot of parity in the NHL and the Maple Leafs are a part of a group of teams that I think will be in the running for a playoff spot.”
Therrien’s troops shared similar thoughts ahead of Wednesday night’s contest.
“In the NHL, if you ever approach any game like you’re facing a rebuild team or anything like that, it’s not the best approach. This team is going to come out and work really, really hard,” offered defenseman P.K. Subban, who will begin his seventh NHL season on Wednesday night. "They’ve got a good coach. If we know anything about the Leafs, whenever we play them, it’s always a lot of intensity and high emotion. As far as I’m concerned, we’re prepared to play a good team tonight, a team that’s going to come out and compete for 60 minutes. If we’re not prepared to do that, we’re only hurting ourselves.”
- With the start of the 2015-16 campaign just hours away, several players discussed the expectations they have for the Canadiens as a group this time around.
“We really believe in ourselves. The sky’s definitely the limit for us. We come in here and we have one goal in mind,” shared Alex Glachenyuk, who will be plying his trade at center on Wednesday night, flanked by both Alexander Semin and Lars Eller on the wing. “But, it’s just the first game. We’ve got to take it one game at a time. It’s a long season. We’ve got to stay confident in ourselves and work hard.”
- Max Pacioretty will play his first official game as team captain on Wednesday night in Toronto. It will also mark the 400th game of his NHL career.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on TVA Sports and Rogers Sportsnet.
Lines and D pairings at the morning skate:
Gallagher – Plekanec – Pacioretty
Eller – Galchenyuk – Semin
Weise – Desharnais – Fleischmann
Flynn/Byron – Mitchell – Smith-Pelly
Petry – Emelin
Subban – Markov
Beaulieu – Gilbert
Tinordi – Pateryn
Words From The Room - October 7
Game preview: Canadiens @ Maple Leafs
Steady as she goes
Canadiens claim forward Paul Byron off waivers from the Calgary Flames
BROSSARD – The Canadiens practiced in Brossard Tuesday morning in preparation of Wednesday night’s season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto.
Practice featured a set of 6-on-5 drills to help ready the Canadiens for potential end of game scenarios when the goaltender is pulled in favor of an extra attacker in an attempt to tie the game.
On-ice training Tuesday morning ended with some excitement as the Canadiens practiced 3-on-3 hockey for the final 15 minutes.
After the noon waiver deadline passed, the Canadiens announced that they have claimed forward Paul Byron off waivers from the Calgary Flames. In 57 games played with the Flames last season, the fourth year veteran picked up six goals and 13 assists for a total of 19 points.
Following practice the team announced that forward Jacob de la Rose has been sent down to St. John’s of the AHL. In addition, both Mark Barberio and Dustin Tokarski cleared waivers and will report to St. John’s as well.
Lines and D pairings at Tuesday's practice: