- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday morning in preparation for their tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre.
- On Friday, head coach Michel Therrien announced that defenseman Jeff Petry would be absent from the lineup against Pittsburgh. Petry is out with a lower-body injury. He will be replaced by Greg Pateryn. The Canadiens’ bench boss also confirmed that Mike Condon would make his second straight start after picking up the win against the New Jersey Devils in his previous outing on Wednesday night. For his part, Tomas Fleischmann will once again be a healthy scratch.
|Brian Flynn knows a strong start against the Penguins will be one of several keys to victory on Saturday night.|
- After watching the last three games from the press box, Greg Pateryn will get a chance to suit up for the first time since Dec. 29 against the Florida Panthers. He’ll play alongside a familiar face in Nathan Beaulieu, who was his primary defense partner in 2013-14 while the two were plying their trade with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.
“We have a lot of chemistry, so I think we’ll be able to read off each other. We know what each of us does best. He’s a really good skater with the puck. I’ll be there to support him. I think vice-versa, too,” shared Pateryn, who will be playing his 11th game of the season on Saturday night. “If we’re able to read off each other, I think we’ll be good.”
Even though the pair has played just 10 minutes alongside one another during the 2015-16 campaign, Beaulieu believes getting back in sync won’t necessarily be that tough. Still, they’ll have to come together quickly against a Penguins squad boasting some of the top offensive threats in the NHL.
“We played well together [in Hamilton]. It’s not unknown waters for us,” offered Beaulieu, who has two goals and 12 points in 41 games during the 2015-16 campaign. “We know what to expect. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, especially not being together the last couple of games coming into a crucial game.”
- Teams talk about the importance of playing a disciplined brand of hockey and staying out of the penalty box all the time. Given the Penguins’ recent success on the power play, it’s extra important for the Canadiens to stay true to that philosophy on Saturday night. Over their last five games, Mike Sullivan’s squad has clicked with the man advantage 35 percent of time, notching six goals in their last 17 power play opportunities.
“We talked about their power play this morning. Staying out of the box is going to be huge for us. Their Top 6 are dynamic. They’re going to kill you on special teams,” admitted Beaulieu, referencing the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. “We don’t want to get in a special teams battle with them tonight. It’s important for us to stay 5-on-5.”
Special teams play proved to be the key to Wednesday night’s win over New Jersey as Max Pacioretty scored on the power play before Torrey Mitchell lit the lamp with a short-handed tally. It certainly wouldn’t hurt their cause to be just as efficient in special teams situations tonight.
“It’s a big part of the game these days because everything is so tight when we’re playing 5-on-5 hockey,” admitted defenseman Mark Barberio, who is averaging 13:30 of ice time per game in five games with the Canadiens this season. “We really have to capitalize on our chances with the power play.”
- The Canadiens believe another key to Saturday night’s game would be getting off to a strong start. Their counterparts are coming off back-to-back losses to the Chicago Blackhawks, so they’ll undoubtedly be fired up to try to set the tone early. Affording the Penguins any opportunity to seize momentum isn’t a recipe for success.
“Every game, every point is important for us. We’re in playoff mode. We have to play consistent hockey when we come out of the gates. I feel like we’ve let down the first period the next game after a win. Our start is very important,” explained Brian Flynn, who has four goals and 10 points on the year. “When we have a good start and score first, we’ve been a very good team this year.”
- Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start in goal for Pittsburgh.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on TVA Sports and Rogers Sportsnet.
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- After a day off on Thursday, the Canadiens returned to practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday morning in preparation for Saturday night’s tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre.
- Prior to the start of practice, Dale Weise hit the ice with strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard to continue rehabbing from an upper-body injury sustained during the Winter Classic in Boston on New Year’s Day.
- Defenseman Jeff Petry didn’t take part in Friday’s on-ice session. He is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. In his post-practice press conference, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Petry would be sidelined for the game against the Penguins. Greg Pateryn will take Petry’s spot in the lineup and play alongside Nathan Beaulieu.
- Therrien also confirmed that Tomas Fleischmann would be a healthy scratch once again on Saturday night, and that Mike Condon would get the start in goal. He also indicated that Carey Price would not be returning to active duty before the All-Star break at the end of January.
- For his part, defenseman Tom Gilbert skated with head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend once practice came to a close. Gilbert is out with a lower-body injury.
- After the NHL All-Star selections were revealed on Wednesday, it was the American Hockey League’s turn to make their All-Star picks public on Thursday afternoon.
McCarron, who is in the midst of his rookie AHL campaign, leads the St. John’s IceCaps with 13 goals in 31 games so far this year. He’s put up 25 total points, which ranks him second on the team in that department.
Barberio, meanwhile, is currently patrolling the Canadiens’ blue line after a strong start in the AHL ranks. The chances that he’ll be participating in the AHL All-Star Game are slim as Michel Therrien’s troops will be enjoying the NHL All-Star break at the same time. Interestingly enough, Barberio still leads all IceCaps defensemen with 20 points.
The Skills Competition will take place on January 31, while the All-Star Game is slated for the next day. The format of the game will be different than last year’s tilt, just like on the NHL side of things. Four teams will go head-to-head in a round-robin tournament where six nine-minute games will be played. The first half of each game will be played at 4-on-4, and the second half will be played at 3-on-3. The two best teams at the conclusion of the tournament will meet in a six-minute game that will be played at 3-on-3.
MONTREAL - On Wednesday, the QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic that defenseman and Canadiens prospect Simon Bourque had been named team captain.
Bourque was a sixth-round selection of the Canadiens, 177th overall, in 2015. The Longueuil native is currently in the midst of his third QMJHL campaign. He's amassed 75 points (19 goals and 56 assists) in 160 career games with the Oceanic, including six goals and 28 points in 37 games this season.
- With back-to-back games on tap, Michel Therrien’s troops were given the day off from practice on Wednesday.
- Following Tuesday night’s loss, coach Therrien elected to make a few changes to his lineup. Rookie netminder Mike Condon will get the start between the pipes against New Jersey. In two starts against the Devils. Condon has yet to lose in regulation with a record of 1-0-1 including a goals against average of 2.35 and a save percentage of .914.
- The Canadiens held an optional practice at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday ahead of their 7:30 p.m. matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers.
- Ben Scrivens will get his second start as a Hab just a week after being traded to Montreal from Edmonton for forward Zack Kassian. In his first start on December 29 in Florida, Scrivens made 27 saves with a 0.900 save percentage in a 3-1 loss to the Panthers.
- Devante Smith-Pelly will be back in the lineup against the Flyers after missing the last three games as a healthy scratch, including Friday’s Winter Classic in Foxboro. The right winger will replace Dale Weise on a line with David Desharnais and Tomas Fleischmann.
“They’re two extremely skilled players,” acknowledged the 23-year-old forward, who has three goals and five assists in 28 games this season. “Davey is a pass-first guy which is always fun, because you can expect to get the puck in areas where you might score, and Fleisch is just an overall really good two-way forward who’s going to get in there on the forecheck and create some offense as well.”
Facing the third-ranked team in the NHL for hits this season (1,124), Smith-Pelly’s role in his return to action in Philly is well-defined.
“We’re playing a tough team tonight, and things always get physical here,” confirmed head coach Michel Therrien following practice. “Weise is someone who works hard in the offensive zone, and can crash the net and those are things Smith-Pelly is capable of doing as well.”
Indeed, the six-foot, 214-pounder insists he’s up to the task.
“I feel like I can play a physical game if need be. My game is finishing my checks regardless, so I’ll be ready if it goes that way tonight.”
- Mark Barberio will play his fourth-consecutive game with the Habs since being called up from the IceCaps on December 27. The Montreal-native earned an assist against the Bruins on Friday and has enjoyed a plus-1 differential since arriving in Montreal.
“The guys have given me a warm welcome since I first got here. We’re a close group and it’s good to see. Making my debut on the road was nice, because I’ve been spending a lot of time with my teammates and getting to know them better,” explained the 25-year-old rearguard who signed in Montreal this summer. “My game doesn’t change whether I’m in the AHL or the NHL; I want to move the puck well and play solid defensively.”
- The Canadiens enter the halfway mark of the season in Philadelphia sitting in second-place in the Atlantic Division after spending just one day atop the standings following the team’s 5-1 win over the Bruins at the Winter Classic. But with the start of the new year comes resolutions, and the Habs would like to see their stay at the top become a more permanent one in 2016.
“Our division is so tight right now that you could practically move two or three spots after every game,” admitted captain Max Pacioretty, who tallied a goal and an assist outdoors at Gillette Stadium. “We definitely had a bad December with a lot of injuries, but the start of the new year felt like a fresh start for our team. We’re undefeated in January and we’re trying to stay that way.”
Aside from a big win on a huge stage, the Habs have also benefited from the return of Brendan Gallagher, who will make his second-consecutive outing following a 17-game absence.
“We know how valuable Gally is to our lineup and what he brings, but it also allows our other lines to return to what they were earlier this season when we were having success. When he was out we were having guys playing positions they weren’t used to and we couldn’t find that chemistry. It obviously hurts to lose Dale, but having Brendan back stabilizes things.”
- The Canadiens held a full morning skate Monday morning prior to departing for Philadelphia later in the afternoon ahead of Tuesday night’s matchup against the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
- Goaltender Ben Scrivens will get the nod between the pipes for Tuesday's game against the Flyers. It will be the second start this season for the Canadiens’ newly acquired 29-year-old. In his career, Scrivens has faced the Flyers on three ocassions, recording two wins while posting a goals against average of 2.65 and save percentage of .921.
"I'm very excited to play tomorrow in Philly" said the newly bilingual Ben Scrivens in French. As the Habs’ newly acquired netminder is both eager and proud to learn more.
- Michel Therrien’s troops worked extensively on the power play on one rink at the Bell Sports Complex before the full team practice kicked off on another. Coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault led the power play drills, while the other assistant coaches worked on puck handling and rebound drills with the remaining group.
- In the absence of Dale Weise, forwards Sven Andrighetto (called up on January 2nd) and Devante Smith-Pelly rotated on a line with David Desharnais and Tomas Fleischmann for the second straight practice in Brossard. Coach has yet to confirm who will suit up against the Flyers on Tuesday night.
- Coach Therrien also gave an update on Carey Price's condition following practice, informing the media that Price's rehab is going well, but he is not ready to hit the ice just yet. Price has absent from since November 25 when he suffered a lower-body injury.Lines at practice
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Fleischmann – Desharnais – Smith-Pelly/Andrighetto
Carr – Galchenyuk – Eller
Byron – Mitchell - Flynn
Markov - Petry
Beaulieu – Subban
Emelin - Barberio
Pateryn - Tinordi
- After picking up a memorable victory against the Boston Bruins in the 2016 Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, the Canadiens returned to Brossard where the team held its first practice at the Bell Sports Complex in 2016.
- Every player was accounted for with the exception of defenseman Tom Gilbert (lower-body) and forward Dale Weise (upper-body). The Canadiens announced Sunday morning that forward Dale Weise was placed on the injured reserve after suffering an upper-body injury against the Boston Bruins in the 2016 Winter Classic. As a result of the injury, Weise is expected to miss 2-3 weeks of action.
Lines at practice
Pacioretty – Plekanec - Gallagher
Fleischmann – Desharnais - Smith-Pelly/Andrighetto
Eller - Galchenyuk - Carr
Byron - Mitchell – Flynn
Beaulieu - Subban
Markov - Petry
Barberio – Emelin
Tinordi – Pateryn
- The Canadiens called up Sven Andrighetto from the St. John's IceCaps in the AHL on Saturday.
Andrighetto was assigned to St. John's on December 31, registering the IceCaps' opening tally in the club's final game of 2015, a 3-2 loss to the Binghamton Senators.
In 18 games with the IceCaps, Andrighetto has racked up seven goals and nine assists with a plus-7 differential.
The 22-year-old winger has also played 14 games with the Canadiens this season, with four goals, one assist, and a plus-5 differential over that span.
The roster move coincides with the loss of Dale Weise, who suffered an upper body injury at the Winter Classic on January 1 and did not return to the ice. An update on Weise's status will have to wait until Sunday, as Michel Therrien's men benefited from a day off on Saturday, following their return from Boston.
To close out Thursday’s activities, former Habs and Bruins players hit the ice for the annual NHL Alumni Game. In a duel filled with comebacks and rallies, the teams fittingly tied 4-4 at the end of regulation, forcing the 2016 Alumni Game into a shootout. Sergei Samsonov, Mark Recchi, and Ray Bourque scored for the Bruins in extra time, while Oleg Petrov and Donald Audette scored for the Canadiens in a losing cause.
Patrice Brisebois, Alex Kovalev, Steve Shutt, and Audette were the Canadiens’ goal scorers in regulation, while Recchi (2), Marco Sturm, and Samsonov lit the lamp for the home team. Jose Theodore and Richard Sevigny split net duties for Montreal.
The NHL set an attendance record for an Alumni Game with over 42,000 spectators taking in the game at the home of the New England Patriots on Thursday evening.
Alumni Game Highlights
Outdoor Women's Classic