- P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin, who missed yesterday’s practice, were all back on the ice.
- The team’s first two lines worked on powerplay drills under the supervision of head coach Michel Therrien and assistant coach Clement Jodoin at the start of the practice. Daniel Briere alternated with Alex Galchenyuk on a line centered by Plekanec, while Nathan Beaulieu took turns at the point alongside P.K. Subban.
- The only players absent were Travis Moen and Brandon Prust. Moen is recovering from a concussion and Prust is expected to return from an upper-body injury in time for the postseason.
- After practice, Coach Therrien announced that Emelin, Markov, Douglas Murray and Carey Price will not make the trip to Chicago with the team. Murray will be serving the last game of his three-game suspension, while the other three players are staying in Montreal to gain additional rest.
LINES AT PRACTICE
- Josh Gorges and Dale Weise both skated with their teammates and have been cleared for full contact. Both had been out for the past weeks with upper-body injuries.
- P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin had therapy days and did not practice. Brandon Prust remains sidelined. He is aiming to return in time for the postseason.
- Head coach Michel Therrien ran a high-tempo practice focusing on zone entries and breakouts. Meanwhile, goaltender coach Stephane Waite worked with both Carey Price and Peter Budaj on their puck-handling behind the net.
LINES AT PRACTICE
Both goaltenders and 17 skaters, including George Parros, Lars Eller, Andrei Markov, Brian Gionta, Jarred Tinordi, Michael Bournival, Mike Weaver, Josh Gorges, Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec, Douglas Murray, Nathan Beaulieu, Daniel Briere, Rene Bourque, Ryan White, Alexei Emelin, and Alex Galchenyuk took part in the morning skate.
Gorges skated with his teammates for the first time on Friday morning since being sidelined following the game in Anaheim on March 5 with a hand injury.
Tinordi will slide back into the lineup against the Sens after being a healthy scratch against the Panthers and Lightning following the NHL’s decision to suspend Murray for three games for his hit on Michael Kostka on Tuesday night.
|Epic comeback game: March 15|
“I respect the decision. I made a mistake and I have to pay for it. Obviously, I’m disappointed, too. It’s an important time of the year and I’ll be sitting in the stands not helping the team get important points,” admitted Murray, who reached out to Kostka via text message to apologize to the Lightning defenseman for the hit. “I had no intention to hurt him and I had no intention to hit his head. I made contact with his head and I made a mistake, so I apologized.”
Called up following the announcement of the three-game suspension to the hulking blue-liner, Beaulieu practiced with the big club for the first time since being sent back to Hamilton prior to the Olympic break. He won’t be in the lineup against the Senators on Friday, but after earning his third recall from the farm this season, the 21-year-old rearguard is ready to pounce on any chance he gets to impress the Habs brass in person.
“For sure I was disappointed. I wanted to be here, but it would be a problem if I wasn’t upset. I used it as motivation to work hard and eventually get back up here,” confessed Beaulieu, who has two assists in 16 games with the Canadiens this season. “I just have to play like I did before. I’m happy to get the opportunity and if I get the call, I’ll make the most of it. Consistency is the biggest thing. Putting games together is the thing I’m focused on trying to do most. That’s what my goal is here.”
While Beaulieu will be watching the Ottawa game from the pressbox, with just four games left after Friday night before the playoffs kick off, Michel Therrien has confirmed that he’ll be looking to give his rookie blue-liner an opportunity to find his groove down the stretch.
“The goal is to make sure he’s ready,” confirmed Therrien. “For sure we’ll get him into a game, but I can’t tell you right now exactly when that will be. We’ll make sure that when he does play, he’s ready. If we think he’s ready to help us from now until the end of the season or into the playoffs, that’s when we’ll put him in the lineup.”
Facing the Sens for the first time since the epic comeback effort of March 15 that saw the Habs rally back from a 4-1 deficit with five minutes remaining in regulation to beat Ottawa 5-4 in overtime, the Canadiens will be searching for a less dramatic two points in the nation’s capital. Since that game, the team has compiled a 7-2-0 record in the nine games that followed, and Briere is hoping Friday will help keep the team’s confidence levels rolling.
“That’s the game that kind of turned it around for us. It’s a game where we were a little bit on a slide, we weren’t feeling good about ourselves, and we were wondering where we were going a little bit and then those last five minutes kind of turned the whole season around,” described the Gatineau, QC native. “We were battling with teams just trying to get into the playoffs and we’re battling for home ice now. That was definitely a turning point.”
Peter Budaj will get his 20th start of the season when he faces the Senators on Friday night. The 31-year-old netminder has faced Ottawa just once in his regular season career to date.
Words from the room
Game preview: MTL @ OTT
New and used skates drive
Murray suspended three games for illegal check
Getting the call
- The Montreal Canadiens have recalled defenseman Nathan Beaulieu from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.
Beaulieu, aged 21, took part in 16 NHL games this season, amassing two assists and totalling a plus-five rating.
In 54 AHL games this season, the defenseman has amassed 25 points, including 19 assists. He has scored four of his six goals on the powerplay, placing him fourth overall on the Bulldogs in that category.
Beaulieu will rejoin the Canadiens in Ottawa and may take part in Friday night’s game.
- The Canadiens skated at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy on Thursday afternoon before departing for Ottawa where they’ll play the Senators on Friday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.
- Josh Gorges skated with strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard prior to the start of practice, continuing to build up his conditioning level as he inches closer to a return from hand surgery. After completing multiple skating drills, Gorges assisted goaltending coach Stephane Waite in warming up both Carey Price and Peter Budaj before leaving the ice.
- Montreal Canadiens defenseman Douglas Murray has been suspended for three games, without pay, for an illegal check to the head of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Michael Kostka during NHL Game No. 1135 in Tampa on Tuesday, April 1, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.
- Peter Budaj will make his 20th start of the season on Friday night in Ottawa. The 31-year-old last played on Mar. 24, pacing the Canadiens to a 2-1 win over the Bruins.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that defenseman Jarred Tinordi will be in the lineup against Ottawa on Friday night.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- Habs prospect Zachary Fucale took home two awards at the Gala des Rondelles d’Or, which took place on April 2. For his fine work in net for the Halifax Mooseheads, the goaltender won the Jacques-Plante Trophy for holding the best goals-against average in the league and the Paul-Dumont Trophy for being the personality of the year.
In 50 games with the Mooseheads this season, Fucale notched 36 wins and six shutouts, presenting a 2.26 goals-against average and a 0.907 save percentage. He also took part in the Subway Super Series as well as the World Junior Championships.
- The accomplishments of Jeremy Gregoire, another Habs prospect, were also acknowledged. Gregoire won the TELUS Marcel-Robert Trophy for scholastic athlete of the year. The centerman racked up 69 points, including 35 goals, in 65 games while pursuing a business administration education at the CEGEP de Baie-Comeau.
- On the same night, the careers of Patrice Brisebois and Gerard Gallant in the QMJHL were celebrated, as both league alumni were inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame.
As a player, Gallant split his time between the Sherbrooke Castors, the St-Jean Castors and the Verdun Juniors, amassing 321 regular season points and 90 playoff points. He also excelled as head coach for the Saint-John Sea Dogs from 2009 to 2012, taking home Coach of the Year honours in 2010 and 2011, and winning a Memorial Cup in 2011.
For his part, Brisebois put up 258 points in 208 games as a defenseman for the Laval Titans and the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Named 1990-91’s Defenseman of the Year in the QMJHL, he also took part in the Memorial Cup in three straight years, contributing 12 points in 13 games.
Ways the Canadiens can lock up a playoff spot tonight:
- With a win over the Lightning
- With an overtime point against the Lightning AND if the Capitals lose against the Stars
- If the Capitals lose against the Stars in regulation time AND if the Devils lose to the Sabres
- The Canadiens skated at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday morning ahead of their tilt against the Lightning.
- The Habs will go in search of a season-high sixth-consecutive victory when they go up against Tampa Bay. If Michel Therrien’s troops keep that winning streak going, they’ll clinch a postseason berth in a building that will likely be inundated with Canadiens fans making their way to the Sunshine State to support their team.
“Given that this could be a playoff preview tonight, this is a game that everyone’s been waiting for. We’re two teams that play similar styles of hockey. They’ve got good depth, a good goaltender and also a lot of speed,” explained defenseman Francis Bouillon. “It’s important for us to go out there and win this one to earn a playoff spot. It’s an important game and we definitely want to win it.”
- If Tuesday night’s game has a playoff feel, it’s likely because the Canadiens and Lightning would do battle in the opening round of the playoffs if the postseason began today. While Michel Therrien has repeated time and time again that he’d like to take things one game at a time and not focus on the future, the Canadiens bench boss is well-aware of all of the hype surrounding the game against Tampa Bay.
“All games are big games in the NHL, but we understand that tonight could be a different game because the chances that we’ll play the Lightning in the playoffs are high. But, we’re focused on playing our game the right way and having a good work ethic,” admitted Therrien. “That’s what we’ve been doing since the start of the year. We don’t want to look too far ahead, but we understand what’s at stake in tonight’s game.”
- After missing practice on Monday because he’d returned to Montreal for family reasons, Alexei Emelin was back on the ice with his teammates in Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The imposing rearguard will be in the lineup against the Lightning. That means that Jarred Tinordi will be a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game.
- For the fourth time this season, Carey Price and Ben Bishop will do battle in goal. Price will be making his 56th start of the year on Tuesday night. He holds a 10-6-4 record and a 2.34 GAA in 20 appearances against the Lightning.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST
Projected lineup vs. Tampa Bay
- After a well-deserved day off, the Canadiens skated at the BB&T Center in Sunrise on Monday morning before departing for Tampa Bay where they’ll take on the Lightning on Tuesday night.
- Defenseman Josh Gorges skated with strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard before practice got underway. Gorges continues to recover from a hand injury, and is hoping to make his return to the Canadiens lineup for their Apr. 9 tilt in Chicago.
- After leaving the team for family reasons following their victory in Detroit on Thursday night, Tomas Plekanec practiced in Sunrise on Monday. He will be in uniform against the Lightning.
- Defenseman Alexei Emelin was not at practice on Monday morning. He has returned to Montreal for family reasons, but will be in the lineup against the Lightning. In his absence, head coach Michel Therrien experimented with a few different defensive pairings during the practice session.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- The Canadiens skated at the BB&T Center in Sunrise on Friday afternoon ahead of their Saturday night tilt against the Florida Panthers.
- Tomas Plekanec was not at practice as he did not accompany the team to Florida following the Canadiens’ win over Detroit on Thursday night. The Czech centerman returned to Montreal for family reasons. No update has been made as of yet regarding his return.
- In Plekanec’s absence, Lars Eller took his spot on a line with Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, while George Parros was on the ice alongside Ryan White and Michael Bournival.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Carey Price will get the start in goal against the Panthers.
Lines and pairings at practice:
- The Canadiens skated at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Thursday morning ahead of their tilt against the Red Wings. Michel Therrien’s troops, who currently sit second in the Atlantic Division with 89 points, are looking for their fourth consecutive victory.
- For their part, the Red Wings currently hold the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, despite being tied with the Blue Jackets, Capitals and Maple Leafs at 80 points. Knowing full well that Detroit is battling for their playoff lives, Therrien stressed the importance of focusing on the present and continuing to build off of their recent success.
“We have to concentrate on the moment. What you accomplished in the past will give you confidence, but we can’t think too far ahead. It’s about tonight,” offered the Habs bench boss, whose club will look to best the Red Wings for the first time this season after dropping their two previous meetings during the 2013-14 campaign. “The focus has to be on tonight’s game. There are two points on the line for us. It’s the same thing for the Red Wings. I like the way we’ve played lately. We’ve done a lot of good things. We just have to keep focusing to play some solid hockey.”
- The Canadiens will field the same group up front on Thursday night that downed the Sabres 2-0 at the Bell Centre earlier in the week. The lone change will come on back end, with Francis Bouillon drawing back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch against Buffalo. In his post-practice press conference, Therrien commented on the importance of affording each one of his defenders playing time as the Habs look to close out the regular season on a high note heading into the playoffs.
“We have a good idea of who’ll make up our top six on defense, but one thing is for sure, we don’t want to keep guys out of the lineup for long periods of time,” stressed Therrien. “Francis is playing good hockey. We talked to him before last game. We also wanted to get Jarred Tinordi in there. We’re taking Douglas Murray out after he played two good games.”
- Carey Price will make his 54th start of the season on Thursday night. The 26-year-old netminder holds a 2-3-1 record and a 2.63 GAA in six career outings against the Red Wings. He was in goal when the Habs dropped a 4-1 decision in Detroit back on Jan. 24. Jimmy Howard will get the call between the pipes for Detroit.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.
Projected lineup vs. Detroit