- The Canadiens practiced at Gillete Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Thursday afternoon in preparation for the 2016 NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day against the Boston Bruins.
- Earlier in the day, the Canadiens assigned Sven Andrighetto to the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. That opened up a spot for Brendan Gallagher to play on Friday. Gallagher has been sidelined since November 22 with two fractured fingers.
- Mike Condon will get the start in goal against the Bruins in the Winter Classic. The 25-year-old netminder, who hails from Holliston, MA, will be playing in front of family and friends on home turf.
- During his post-practice press conference, head coach Michel Therrien indicated that defenseman Alexei Emelin will be back in the lineup on Friday. The Russian rearguard had been a healthy scratch for the last two games. Without confirming who would be watching the game from the press box, Therrien also indicated that Mark Barberio would play a third straight game since being recalled from St. John’s on Sunday.
- The Canadiens didn't hold a formal on-ice practice session in South Florida on Wednesday morning as they prepared to depart for Boston early in the afternoon to get set for the 2016 NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day against the Bruins. Puck drop is scheduled for 1 p.m. EST.
- Michel Therrien's troops will get their first look at the outdoor rink at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Thursday afternoon. They are scheduled to hit the ice for practice at 12:30 p.m. EST.
- Following the Canadiens' practice session, Gillette Stadium will play host to the Outdoor Women’s Classic between the Boston Pride (NWHL) and Les Canadiennes (CWHL) at 2 p.m. EST. Then, the NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game will begin at 3:30 p.m. EST.
As part of the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic festivities, the Canadiens' CWHL partner, Les Canadiennes, will take part in the first-ever Outdoor Women's Classic against the NWHL's Boston Pride. The game will be played at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 31, prior to the NHL Alumni Game. Fans with tickets to the Alumni Game will have access to the women's game. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. for the 2:00 p.m. puck drop.
On Sunday afternoon, the Canadiens announced that they’ve recalled defenseman Mark Barberio from the AHL's St. John’s IceCaps. He will join the team on Sunday night in Tampa.
Currently in his first season in the Canadiens organization, Barberio sits tied for third on the IceCaps with 20 points on the year – including two goals – in 26 games. The 25-year-old rearguard has played 103 career NHL games, all of which came during his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning between the 2012-13 and 2014-15 campaigns. He amassed six goals and 17 points during that span.
- After touching down in Tampa on Sunday afternoon, the Canadiens hit the ice at Amalie Arena in preparation for Monday night’s tilt against the Lightning.
- Following practice, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Sven Andrighetto would be back in the lineup on Monday night. Andrighetto has been a healthy scratch for the last four games. He last suited up on December 17 against the Los Angeles Kings. Mike Condon, meanwhile, will get the start in goal against the Lightning.
- On Sunday, Carey Price claimed the Lionel Conacher Award which is presented to Canada’s Male Athlete of the Year, as voted on by members of the Canadian Press. Price, who recently captured the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s Athlete of the Year, received 54 percent of the votes that were cast.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Weise
Fleischmann - Plekanec - Andrighetto
Eller- Galchenyuk - Carr
Byron - Mitchell - Flynn/Smith-Pelly
Beaulieu - Subban
Tinordi - Pateryn
Markov - Petry/Emelin
- The Canadiens were back to work on Boxing Day for a morning skate before flying to Washington for their game against the Capitals. In a rare occurrence, the Habs are only heading out the morning of the game due to the NHL’s mandatory time off. They’ll land in the American capital with plenty of time to make it to the Verizon Center for the game.
“You come to the rink today and it feels like a new start to the season,” explained Habs captain Max Pacioretty. “That’s a good feeling. Obviously injury-wise with a couple of guys being banged up, that’s the only difference from the beginning of the year. It’s been a mentality of ‘next guy up’ and today is no different. We’ve got to treat it like it’s a new season. This is Game 1. We’ve got to play the right way and it was nice to get out of the rink for a few days.”
- The players enjoyed their time away, but they weren’t the only ones who unplugged from hockey for a few days after landing back in the city from Minnesota.
“Honestly, I mostly watched a lot of Netflix. I watched 19-2. It was really good. On Christmas Day, I went through my closet and brought some of my old clothes to donate to l’accueil Bonneau,” explained Michel Therrien, who didn’t mention whether or not his famous yellow blazer from his first stint behind the Habs bench made it into the donation pile for the local homeless shelter. “I had a chance to meet some of the volunteers there. I felt good about that.”
- Despite his day of good deeds, Therrien admits he did spend part of his time off thinking about his team’s play of late.
“Our confidence isn’t there. What we did over the first 10 games of the season proved what we’re capable of doing. But we played better over the last 10 games in terms of our structure and systems than we did in those first 10 games of the season,” underlined the Habs bench boss, who has also been impressed with his team’s ability to generate scoring chances recently. “We’re doing good things, but the results aren’t there. Confidence can change quickly. When things are going well, people start thinking about the parade. When we’re not having as much success, everyone is bad all of a sudden. You have to stay even keel and look at things objectively.”
- Brendan Gallagher joined his teammates on the ice for practice on Saturday morning, donning a light blue “no contact” jersey. Gallagher, Tom Gilbert (lower body), and Carey Price (lower body) will not join the Canadiens for the trip to Washington as they continue their respective rehab routines. The team confirmed that Gilbert would not take part in the team’s next four games, although Gallagher could take part in a game sooner than later.
“There’s a small chance that Brendan will join us at some point on the trip,” shared Therrien. “He’ll meet with the doctors over the next few days and they’ll make the decision after that.”
- Defenseman Jeff Petry, who missed the team’s last two games with an upper body injury suffered on December 19, was back at practice and has been given the green light to return against Washington.
“Everything feels good and as far as I know, I’m back in tonight. It’s a big challenge. It’s good coming off the three days off to put everything aside and come up with a fresh start moving forward,” mentioned Petry. “It was good timing to have a couple of days off, spend some time with the family, get out of the rink and enjoy the holidays.”
- The Habs put in a little extra work on the power play during the morning skate. During the recent road trip to Dallas, Nashville, and Minnesota, Therrien was working four forwards on the man advantage, pairing David Desharnais with P.K. Subban on the point.
“I see my position as being more on the half-wall than on the point so you have guys on both sides on the power play. We need some goals, so obviously we have to change some things,” explained Desharnais. “The idea is to use the whole ice so we can be a threat from both sides with guys like [Max] Pacioretty or [Alex] Galchenyuk ready to fire one-timers.”
- The Canadiens will be looking to snap their current five-game losing streak against one of the NHL’s hottest teams. Prior to the Christmas break, the Capitals had won six in a row and 13 of their last 15 games. Defenseman John Carlson has picked up points in his last seven games, racking up two goals and six assists in that span.
- Therrien confirmed that Mike Condon would get his 21st start of the season on Saturday night in Washington.
- Puck drop at the Verizon Center is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST and is available on CBC, TVA Sports, CITY and NHLN-US.
Lines and D pairings at practicePacioretty-Desharnais-Weise
MONTREAL - The Montreal Canadiens announced on Tuesday that forward Michael McCarron has been assigned to the St. John's IceCaps in the AHL.
In two games with the Canadiens -- his first two in the NHL -- the team's first-round pick from 2013 registered four shots and four penalty minutes.
McCarron has 13 goals and 24 points over 28 games in the AHL this season.
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Monday morning. Sixteen skaters and both goalies took part in the practice.
- Among those not on the ice on Monday was defenseman Jeff Petry, who missed the end of Saturday’s game in Dallas with an upper body injury. He will not be in the lineup against the Predators and will be re-evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
- Jarred Tinordi will replace Petry in the lineup on Monday night, giving the 6-foot-6 blue-liner a chance to suit up for his first NHL game of the campaign. Tinordi spent just over a week in St. John’s on a conditioning loan, from November 26 to December 6, giving the 23-year-old defenseman a chance to get into some game action. He registered two assists and posted a plus-3 differential during his six game stint in the AHL.
“We sent Tinordi to play a few games in the American league. It was important for him to participate in some games,” explained Therrien of the 2010 first round pick. “This is an opportunity for him with Petry out. He has to keep things simple, play well defensively, and make a good first pass. He has to focus on basics, which is what we ask of all our defensemen.”
- Looking to spark his offense, Michel Therrien mixed up his lines on Sunday, which included reuniting David Desharnais with Max Pacioretty. The pair has played together for the majority of their respective careers, including almost all of 2013-14, when Pacioretty finished with 39 goals in 73 games.
“We hope that putting them together will get them going,” explained Therrien. “We need more offensive contribution from our forwards, but we need to get some from our defense, too.”
- In addition to his forward trios, Therrien will also be shuffling his defense pairings heading into Monday’s game. Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin will play together, while Tinordi will slide in alongside Tom Gilbert. The P.K. Subban/Nathan Beaulieu duo will remain intact.
- Dustin Tokarski will be between the pipes for the Canadiens against the Predators. In five games this season, the 26-year-old netminder has a 1-2-0 record and a 2.95 goals-against average. This will be Tokarski’s first career start against the Preds.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EST and is available on SNE, RDS, 98,5FM and TSN 690.
Lines from Sunday's practice
Words from the room
Game Preview: Canadiens vs Predators
The Notebook: December 20
- After falling 6-2 to the Stars in Dallas on Saturday night, the Canadiens practiced at the Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville on Sunday afternoon. Birthday boy Andrei Markov was the only player not on the ice for practice.
- Despite missing the end of Saturday’s game with an upper body injury, Jeff Petry was back on the ice on Sunday with his teammates at practice.
- Having racked up just three goals in the last three games, Michel Therrien looked to rekindle the offensive spark that saw the Canadiens score 35 goals in their first nine games of the campaign – all wins – by juggling his lines at practice. Dale Weise was slotted onto a line alongside David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty, while Alex Galchenyuk moved back to the middle, centering a line with Daniel Carr and Lars Eller.
Lines at practice
- The Canadiens held a morning skate at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Saturday morning ahead of their game against the Stars, who are tied with the Capitals atop the league standings with 48 points.
- After being recalled from the IceCaps on Friday, Michael McCarron flew to Dallas and joined the Canadiens on the ice for practice. The 6-foot-6 forward skated on a line with Paul Byron and Lars Eller in the morning and coach Michel Therrien confirmed he would be slotting his big forward in on the power play as a net-front threat.
“I was flying from St. John’s to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California to visit my sister – she’s a nurse out there. I had just landed and was in her car for maybe five minutes when the GM from St. John’s called me. Chills went down my body and it was the best feeling I’ve probably ever had,” shared McCarron, who has racked up 24 points in 28 AHL games in his rookie pro campaign. “I’m a big body. I play hard, I get to the net, and I finish my checks. I just want to help this team win some hockey games. It’s my first NHL game, so hopefully the nerves will be out pretty early and I’ll play well. I feel lucky to have this opportunity and I’m going to run with it.”
- The Habs’ defense corps will look to slow down the NHL’s hottest offensive squad on Saturday, as the Stars currently lead the league with an average of 3.34 goals-per-game. Dallas’ Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are sitting second and third in the league behind Patrick Kane with 42 and 41 points, respectively.
“They score goals. Tonight will be a challenge for us to see if we can play in their end. The best defense for us is playing offense,” said Max Pacioretty, who is leading the Canadiens with 14 goals this season. “When you’re playing against top lines, you need to counter them with playing good offense. We don’t want to play defense against this team; we want to keep them out of our end and force them to make mistakes in their end.”
- That’s what Therrien is hoping for from his newly-formed top trio, consisting of Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, and Alex Galchenyuk, who were thrown together at the end of Thursday’s game against the Kings.
“When we put them together last game, they had a lot of scoring chances,” mentioned the Habs bench boss. “They didn’t get the results, but you have to look at their puck possession stats and scoring chances and things like that. I really like their dynamic. I don’t have last change tonight, but I’m very comfortable if they end up out there against the top line.”
- If the Stars have shown one weakness this season, it has been the effectiveness of their penalty kill, sitting 20th in the NHL with a 79.6% efficiency. The Habs’ power play will be looking to exploit that on Saturday night, having been blanked with the man advantage in seven-straight games, going 0-for-21 on the power play in that span.
“We don’t look too much into where they are in the standings; we look more at their tendencies, but the focus is more on us,” explained Jeff Petry, who averages 2:01 of power play ice time per game. “We can’t be looking for the perfect play. We just have to get pucks to the net and look for rebounds. We’re going to get greasy goals. You get a couple of those and that will help build the confidence.”
- Mike Condon will be between the pipes against the Stars, marking the rookie netminder’s 19th start of the season and seventh on road ice. In his six previous road starts, Condon has posted a 4-1-1 record.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST and is available on CITY TV, TVA Sports, and NHLN-US, in addition to 98,5FM and TSN 690.
LINES AND DEFENSE PAIRINGS AT PRACTICE
Game preview: Canadiens vs. Stars
Words from the room