- 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
- The Canadiens, who head to Detroit to kick off a nine-day road trip, will not practice on Wednesday monring. During the trip, the team will take on the Red Wings, the Panthers, the Lightning and the Senators.
- Dale Weise, who suffered an upper-body injury against Boston on Monday, will be out for two to three weeks.
- As for Travis Moen, who also left the March 24 match-up in the first period, he has a concussion and will be out of action for a minimum of seven days.
The Canadiens will face the NHL’s hottest team on Monday with the Bruins cruising into the tilt riding a league-best 12-game win streak. On the ride to the airport following their game at the ACC, the Habs were closely following the Bruins-Coyotes game as Boston erased a 3-2 deficit in the desert, giving the Canadiens a chance to play the role of spoilers on Monday night.
“I don’t know if I was cheering for them but it certainly is nice,” mentioned Brendan Gallagher, who has three points in three games against Boston this season. “Right now we know they’re the best team and the hottest team in the National Hockey League so it’s a challenge for us. We certainly feel like we’re up for that challenge. It’s just about us showing up and playing our game and doing the things we need to do to give ourselves a good chance. For us to show up and put together a good effort and play well in this building is going to be fun for us.”
|Michael Bournival back at practice|
Resetting the Bruins’ victory clock to zero may be a happy by-product of a win at TD Garden, but Michel Therrien has a bigger picture in mind heading into Monday’s game against the division rivals, who have already clinched a spot in the postseason.
“There’s a big difference between winning 12 games in a row in November and doing it in March while teams are battling for playoff spots. That’s what impresses me the most about their streak,” admitted the Canadiens’ coach, whose own troops are in the hunt to usurp Tampa for the second seed in the division with a win in Boston and a Lightning loss against the Senators “Honestly, we’re not thinking about the streak. We’re thinking about us fighting to make the playoffs. We’re a group that’s going to battle until the end. It’s not about the Bruins, it’s about us.”
Despite leaving Saturday’s game early with a lower body injury, Lars Eller skated with his teammates for practice in Boston. After joining the big club in Toronto for the trip to Boston, Michael Bournival was also back on the ice following a conditioning stint in Hamilton. Both forwards will be game-time decisions on Monday night.
“I feel good. It was good to be able to play some games with the Bulldogs. It was also really good for my confidence,” shared Bournival, who missed 11 games with a concussion before racking up two goals and an assist with the Bulldogs last week. “It reinforced that I can play in games, which are obviously different than practices. I had a few good tests there. I was hit a few times and had no symptoms. We followed proper protocol and I’m confident the concussion is behind me.”
Peter Budaj will get his 22nd start of the season on Monday night. The Slovak netminder will look to build on his 4-2-0 career record against Boston, boasting a .911 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average against the Bruins.
“It’s a challenge not just for Peter but for all our players and we love giving our players a challenge,” explained Therrien, who has started Budaj in two of the team’s three games against Boston this season. “One of the reasons Peter will be in net tonight is because we want to share the load among our goaltenders. We made the decision that Peter would be in action tonight.”
The Canadiens currently lead the season series against the Bruins 2-1 and can finish with a winning record if they can snap the Bruins’ streak and leave Boston with a victory on Monday.
Lines and D pairings at practicePacioretty-Desharnais-Vanek
Words from the room
Game preview: Canadiens @ Bruins
On the Road: Boston
The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Saturday morning ahead of their game against the Leafs. Peter Budaj was the only goalie on the ice along with 14 skaters, including Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk, Alexei Emelin, George Parros, P.K. Subban, Dale Weise, Mike Weaver, Travis Moen,
|Michel Therrien's pre-game presser|
Head coach Michel Therrien announced a few personnel changes ahead of Saturday’s game against Toronto, opting to re-insert Rene Bourque back into the lineup after making him a healthy scratch for the past five games. Bourque practiced on a line with Alex Galchenyuk and Brian Gionta on Friday in Brossard. Ryan White will be the odd-man out up front. Meanwhile on the Canadiens’ blue line, Jarred Tinordi will sit in place of Douglas Murray, who will likely slide into a spot alongside Mike Weaver against the Leafs.
“We want him to play with intensity; we want him to be a presence on the ice and to excel on the penalty kill and in the corners. Those are things we know he does well,” explained Therrien of what Murray is expected to bring to the lineup.”
After watching the last three games from the pressbox as a healthy scratch, Murray will be making his return to the lineup against the league’s heaviest-hitting team, with Toronto currently leading the NHL with 2,252 hits through 71 games in 2013-14. The bruising Swedish blue-liner will be looking to make an impact against the Original Six rival on Air Canada Centre ice.
“You always want to play – you don’t play hockey to watch. I’d like to think I can be effective every game we play and I try to do the same things no matter who we face,” explained Murray, who is second behind Alexei Emelin on the team with 130 hits so far this season. “This is the fun part of the year. You get the same amount of points [for a win] at the start of the year as you do now but as it gets closer to playoffs there’s a little more desperation for each team. The intensity goes up a little bit and it’s fun hockey. These are the easy ones to get fired up for. You have to be on your toes the whole time.”
With 11 games left on the schedule and 22 points up for grabs in the next few weeks, the Canadiens are well aware of where they stand on the Eastern Conference leaderboard. Facing their division rival on Saturday night with potential playoff positioning on the line, the Habs are currently sitting three points up on the Leafs with the same number of games played and are among the top three teams in the Atlantic division while Toronto will be looking to close the gap and move up from their current wild card spot in the East.
“I think we’ve been trying to play playoff hockey for a while now,” mentioned P.K. Subban, who made a rare exception to his policy of not speaking to the media on game days on Saturday morning back home in Toronto. “Whether you’re in a position where you can cement a playoff spot or you’re just trying to make the playoffs or you’re in second or third spot and you’re shuffling for home ice advantage, the important thing at this time of the year is that everybody has to be playing playoff-style hockey. You can’t just turn that switch on once the playoffs start. You have to start preparing for that grind and that type of hockey now.
“At this time of year you have to be ready to execute and play every night,” he added. “The points are so important come this time of the year. Every team – regardless of where they are in the standings – is competing for something. Every game is going to be tough from here on in; we just have to be ready to play.”
Carey Price did not skate with team on Saturday morning, but Therrien confirmed he would get the start against the Leafs. It will be his 52nd start of the season for the 26-year-old who will be looking for his 29th win of the campaign. In three games against Toronto this year, Price has a 1-2-0 record, a 3.38 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage.
Words from the room
Game preview: MTL @ TOR
Down the middle
- Brandon Prust (upper-body injury) and Josh Gorges (broken hand) did not skate.
- After practice, coach Michel Therrien announced that Prust will miss the team's remaining regular season games due to injury.
- The team focused on passing and zone entry drills at practice.
- Alex Galchenyuk skated at center on Friday morning. Brian Gionta and Rene Bourque were his wingers.
- Jarred Tinordi took turns skating with Francis Bouillon and P.K. Subban during five-on-five drills. Douglas Murray was paired off with Mike Weaver
LINES AT PRACTICE
- After a day off on Wednesday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of their tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre. The Habs will be looking to extend their current winning streak to four games. Michel Therrien’s troops have downed the Blue Jackets in both of their previous meetings earlier this season.
- Carey Price will likely make his 51st start of the season on Thursday night. The 26-year-old is 2-2-1 with a 2.76 GAA and a .902 save percentage in five career appearances against Columbus, who will likely counter with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes.
“Not too long ago, Bobrovsky was named the best goalie in the league. He’s definitely doing something right,” confided Alex Galchenyuk, referencing the Blue Jackets’ starter, who has compiled a 26-17-4 record and a 2.49 GAA in 47 games during the 2013-14 campaign. “You’ve got to be aggressive against him. You’ve always got to be in front of the net, and not make the job too easy for him because if you do he’s going to steal some games.”
- After skating for about 10 minutes on Thursday morning, Brandon Prust left the ice and returned to the Canadiens’ dressing room. In his post-practice press conference, the Habs bench boss addressed Prust’s status for the game against Columbus.
“Brandon Prust will not play tonight. He’s suffering from an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated on a day-to-day basis,” offered Therrien, who saw Prust most recently return to action on Mar. 12 after missing seven games due to injury.
It will be White’s first taste of action since the Mar. 12 tilt against the Bruins at the Bell Centre. He had been a healthy scratch for the Habs’ ensuing three games.
- Aside from White drawing into the lineup in the absence of Prust, the Canadiens will likely field the same lineup that bested the Avalanche 6-3 on Tuesday night. Forwards Rene Bourque and George Parros will likely be healthy scratches, as will defenseman Douglas Murray.
- Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards has his club playing good hockey as of late. Columbus is 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and currently hold the second wild-card position in the Eastern conference with 76 points.
Galchenyuk knows full well that the Blue Jackets are entering Thursday night’s tilt hungry as they continue their quest to turn the tables on a four-year playoff drought. With a dozen games left on the Canadiens' regular season schedule, the NHL sophomore understands the importance of defending home ice and not giving any opponent a free pass in their own barn.
“It’s getting close the playoffs. These games are crucial. There’s two points on the line, and especially playing in front of our fans you always want to get the W. I’m sure they want to come in here and get the two points, too. It’s our job not to give it away,” noted Galchenyuk, who has 12 goals and 27 points in 55 games thus far this season. “I think that they’re a different team now than they were when we played them a while back. I think standings-wise, they’re a more competitive team now. They want to play every shift like it’s their last. They want those two points, but we’re the team that doesn’t want to give them away easily. You know that there are 12 games left and anything can happen. Every point is crucial.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST.
Projected lineup vs. Columbus