POSTED ON Monday, 06.01.2014 / 12:27 PM

- The Canadiens held an optional skate on Monday morning in Brossard ahead of their tilt against the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre. This is the third of four games between these Atlantic division teams during the 2013-14 campaign. The Panthers beat the Canadiens in their two previous meetings with a 2-1 win at Bell Centre on Dec. 15 and a 4-1 home victory on Dec. 29.

- Sixteen skaters and both goaltenders took part in the on-ice session on Monday morning. The only players missing were Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty and Ryan White.

- With respect to White, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that the 25-year-old forward is expected to be sidelined for the next two weeks. White was injured on Jan. 2 in Dallas.

- Therrien also confirmed that the Canadiens’ lineup will remain unchanged on Monday night. Raphael Diaz will be a healthy scratch, while Daniel Briere will play alongside Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec. Briere registered two goals and three points on that line on Saturday night against Ottawa.

- The Canadiens might sit 15 points ahead of the Panthers in the Eastern Conference standings, but the Habs have yet to best the South Florida-based franchise in two meetings thus far this season. If the bleu-blanc-rouge has learned anything from their previous tilts against Peter Horachek’s club, it’s that the Panthers are far better than their record indicates.

“They’re not easy to play against at all. You’ve got to outwork them because that’s what they did to us the first two games and that’s why they won. It’s as simple as that. They’re a good team,” confided Lars Eller, who has 10 goals and 20 points on the year. “I think we owe it to ourselves to give it a better effort than the first two games against them. If we can match their effort or bring a better one than them, we’ve got a good chance to win. We’ve got to match their effort, especially in our building. We owe that to ourselves.”

- Raphael Diaz was named to Team Switzerland for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on Monday. The Canadiens rearguard will be sporting his nation’s colors on Olympic ice for the second time in his career, having previously donned the red and white in Vancouver in 2010.

“I’m very happy to be going to my second Olympics. In a month, we’ll fly over from here, and of course I’m really happy,” offered the 27-year-old, who became the second Habs player to earn a spot on an Olympic roster after Max Pacioretty was named to Team USA last week.

“It’s always a really good challenge," added Diaz. "It’s the tournament of all tournaments every four years. Of course you’re happy to compete there against the best players in the world.”

- With the formal announcement of Canada’s Olympic roster scheduled for Tuesday morning at 11 a.m., head coach Michel Therrien discussed the importance of his troops earning highly-coveted spots to compete for their countries at the Olympic Games.

“We want our players to experience things like that. I’m very happy that Raphy has a chance to go over there and represent his country. Tomorrow, big announcements will be made and I’m confident that like Pacioretty and Diaz, other guys will get a chance to participate in the Olympics,” underlined Therrien, whose Canadian ties have him rooting for several of his troops to potentially join Team Canada in Sochi. “I’m Canadian, so I’d really like to see Pricer there. I’m confident. It’s the same thing with P.K. Subban. I strongly believe that they both have a good chance to be there and I sincerely hope that it happens.”

- Carey Price should make his 35th start of the season on Monday night. Price holds a 5-4-1 record and a 1.88
goals-against average in 10 career appearances against the Panthers.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST.

SEE ALSO
Words From The Room - Jan. 6
Game preview: MTL vs. FLA
Gold diggers
Open house

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POSTED ON Monday, 06.01.2014 / 11:16 AM

Raphael Diaz was named to Team Switzerland for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on Monday. The Canadiens rearguard will be sporting his nation’s colors on Olympic ice for the second time in his career, having previously donned the red and white in Vancouver in 2010.

“I’m very happy to be going to my second Olympics. In a month, we’ll fly over from here, and of course I’m really happy,” offered the 27-year-old, who became the second Habs player to earn a spot on an Olympic roster after Max Pacioretty was named to Team USA last week.

“It’s always a really good challenge," added Diaz. "It’s the tournament of all tournaments every four years. Of course you’re happy to compete there against the best players in the world.”

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POSTED ON Sunday, 05.01.2014 / 1:36 PM

- The Canadiens took part in a rare Sunday morning skate as part of the Provigo Canadiens Fan Practice at the Bell Centre.

- Ryan White was the only player who didn’t take part in the practice after suffering an upper-body injury in Carolina on New Year’s Eve.

Lines at practice
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Gallagher
Gionta - Plekanec - Briere
Galchenyuk - Eller - Bourque
Bournival - Prust - Moen
Parros

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POSTED ON Saturday, 04.01.2014 / 11:55 AM
BROSSARD - The Canadiens practiced Saturday morning at the Bell Sports Complex before taking on the Ottawa Senators later in the day.

A large contingent of loyal fans braved the cold to come see the Habs skate. It was the team’s first home practice since the Christmas vacation.

Absent were forwards Ryan White and George Parros. White suffered an upper-body injury in the team’s previous game against the Dallas Stars and is day-to-day, while Parros is still out with a concussion. After meeting with a concussion specialist in the U.S. in the past days, the prognosis seems to be positive in the case of the six-foot-five forward.

“[Parros] saw a specialist in Michigan and the outlook is good. Actually, he is still over there because he got caught in the big snow storm,” chuckled coach Michel Therrien. “There had been no setbacks in his case. He traveled with the team to Dallas and skated over there before meeting with the doctor in Michigan, it was all part of the plan.”

The rivalry between Ottawa and Montreal may not date back as far as the Habs’ classic feuds with Boston and Toronto, but the division revals’ recent confrontations did not lack in intensity. In addition, Saturday’s game will kick off a critical 17-games-in-35-days stretch before the Winter Olympics for the Canadiens.

“It’s a big month. We want to be looking up and chasing after first place in the division, instead of looking behind us and trying to keep a playoff spot,” remarked center Lars Eller. “Games like these are huge to keep teams like Ottawa behind us. I expect tonight to be a high-paced game. It doesn’t matter who’s hot or who’s struggling lately, it’s always close against Ottawa. With two good goalies, anything can happen.”

Eller also spoke about what it means to play at home for the first time in almost two week.

“It will feel good to be back in our own building, in front of our own fans. I’m looking forward to that,” the Dane added.

One player who will be in the line up is forward Daniel Briere, who was a healthy scratch on two occasions during the holiday road trip in southern United States. He centered a line composed of Travis Moen and Michael Bournival during the morning skate.

“For sure I am happy to be back in the line up. That’s what we train for. Whether you’re 18 or 36, it’s never easy to be scratched, and it’s always a great feeling to be on the ice,” offered Briere, who also gets a chance to play center after skating on the wing most of the season. “I always feel more at ease playing center, but that’s secondary. I’m just happy to be back in the line up.”

Following the morning skate, head coach Michel Therrien touched upon his priorities for the next 35 days.

“The schedule before the Olympics will be demanding for every team,” acknowledged the Habs’ bench boss. “The important thing will be to manage the energy levels of the players. We’ll have to make some adjustments when it comes to practice time, so that we can conserve more energy for games. Having talked to some other coaches across the league, it’s something that is a challenge for everyone. We showed some good consistency since the beginning of the season, and that will be a big factor in the stretch before the Olympics.”

Carey Price will make the start for the Habs, while defenseman Raphael Diaz will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season. The move allows Alexei Emelin to re-enter the line up.

“Diaz is sitting out simply because we have seven defensemen with NHL experience. A decision had to be made for tonight, and we decided that he would be missing the game,” explained Therrien.

Saturday morning, the team announced that center Tomas Plekanec will be awarded the Molson Cup for the month of December 2013 as the team's top performer.

- canadiens.com


LINES AT PRACTICE
Bourque-Plekanec-Gionta
Pacioretty-Desharnais-Gallagher
Galchenyuk-Eller-Prust
Moen-Briere-Bournival

Bouillon-Subban
Emelin- Markov
Murray- Gorges
Diaz

SEE ALSO
Tomas Plekanec earns Molson Cup honour for December
Game preview: MTL vs. OTT

Stealing the show

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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.01.2014 / 2:07 PM

- After a day off on Wednesday in Dallas, the Canadiens skated at the American Airlines Center on Thursday morning ahead of their tilt against the Stars.

- Thursday night’s game marks the second and final meeting between the Canadiens and Stars during the 2013-14 regular season campaign. The Habs won the first meeting 2-1 in Montreal on Oct. 29. This will be the Canadiens’ first visit to Dallas since Dec. 21, 2010.

RAW: Douglas Murray

- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Alexei Emelin will be a healthy scratch on Thursday night against the Stars. Douglas Murray, who missed the last three games as a healthy scratch himself, will take Emelin’s place in the lineup, and will likely play alongside Raphael Diaz.

“In Emelin’s case, both myself and Jean-Jacques [Daigneault] sat down with him and had a good discussion. He’s a guy that's trying to find himself right now. It’s our responsibility to bring him back to a level that he’s capable of playing at like last season. Often, after a major injury and missing some serious time, returning to full status can be difficult for certain players,” offered Therrien on the subject of the Russian rearguard, who spent the summer recovering from major knee surgery.

“We’re going to work with him on his conditioning, his execution, his skating, and the way that he reads the play. There are a lot of areas that need to be dealt with,” added the Habs bench boss, who will also sit Daniel Briere against the Stars in favor of Michael Bournival for the second straight game. “But, we have a lot of confidence in Emelin. It’s part of our responsibilities as coaches to gradually work on both his game and his confidence level.”

- The Canadiens will go up against a familiar face on Thursday night in Stars forward Erik Cole, who played 101 regular season games in bleu-blanc-rouge before being dealt to Dallas last year.

One player who enjoyed tremendous success alongside the power forward was Max Pacioretty, who scored a career-high 33 goals and 65 points while paired with Cole and David Desharnais during the 2011-12 campaign.

The newly minted Olympian is looking forward to matching up against his old teammate, who has been on a tear as of late with five goals in his last six games.

“I saw Colesy last night, and he told us that he had some injury trouble at the beginning of the year, but you know what type of player he is. He’s an honest, hard worker. We knew that he was going to break out like he is right now eventually,” confided Pacioretty. “He’s one of the hottest players in the league right now, so it will be fun matching up against him. Obviously, we know that he’s got size and speed, so we’ve got to take that away from him and hopefully we can do that.”

- Alex Galchenyuk might not have been selected to join Team USA in Sochi, but the NHL sophomore isn’t losing any sleep over it after hearing the news on Wednesday afternoon.

“It wasn’t hard to swallow in the first place. I’m 19 years old. Obviously, I was disappointed, but it’s not like I’m killing myself over it. What happened, happened, and I’m going to keep looking forward,” mentioned Galchenyuk, who has 10 goals and 23 points on the year.

- George Parros was the lone player that did not take part in the morning skate. The Canadiens confirmed that he left Dallas on Thursday morning to see a specialist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

- Carey Price could make his 33rd start of the season of Thursday night. Price has a 3-3-0 record and a 2.84
goals-against average in six games against the Stars over the course of his career.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. EST.

Lines and D pairings at practice:

Gionta – Plekanec – Bourque
Galchenyuk – Eller – Prust
Moen – White – Bournival
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Gallagher
Briere

Diaz – Murray
Gorges – Markov
Subban – Bouillon
Emelin

SEE ALSO
Words From The Room - Jan. 2
Game preview: MTL @ DAL
A just reward
Number cruncher: Holiday savings

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 4:36 PM

Team USA’s roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics was revealed on Wednesday afternoon, and Max Pacioretty is among the players headed to Sochi come February.

The New Canaan, CT native will take part in the Olympics for the first time. Pacioretty previously represented the United States internationally on two occasions, sporting the red, white and blue at the World Junior Hockey Championships in 2008 and the World Hockey Championships in 2012. The 25-year-old led Team USA in scoring in 2012, registering two goals and 10 assists in eight games.

The 2012 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy winner is in the midst of a career season, leading the Canadiens with 17 goals on the year.

Pacioretty will join a squad led by Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 31.12.2013 / 12:46 PM

- The Canadiens skated at PNC Arena on Tuesday morning ahead of their tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes. The game marks the first of three regular season meetings between the two teams during the 2013-14 campaign.

- Carey Price should make his 32nd start of the season on Tuesday night. He holds an 8-5-1 record and 2.44
goals-against average in 14 career games against the Hurricanes. Cam Ward will get the start in goal for Carolina.

RAW: Brandon Prust

- Based on the lines featured at practice, Michael Bournival could make his return to the Canadiens lineup after missing the last two games as a healthy scratch. The 21-year-old skated alongside Ryan White and Travis Moen on Tuesday morning. If Bournival returns, he will likely take Daniel Briere’s spot in the lineup. Briere was still skating after practice came to an end, suggesting he could be a healthy scratch.

If Bournival does get the nod to play on Tuesday night, a decision that should come later on today according to head coach Michel Therrien, the Shawinigan native is adamant that he’s set to take on the Hurricanes.

“You play hockey in order to play,” stressed Bournival, who has six goals and 11 points on the year, but has been held off the scoresheet in his last 13 games. “I’ve been working hard. I’ve been keeping myself ready if the coach called on me. I’m ready to go.”

- It should come as no surprise that the outcome of Tuesday night’s tilt carries some extra weight in the Canadiens locker room given that a new year is upon us.

Like every team competing on New Year’s Eve, the goal is to rack up an all-important two points in the standings and head into 2014 with momentum.

“Kind of the way we went into the Christmas break, we wanted to get a win going in there. It would be good to finish on a good note and create some good karma for the new year,” offered Brandon Prust, who was paired with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk during the morning skate.

- While the Habs bench boss indicated that a decision on his forward lines will only come later on in the day, he did confirm that his defensive pairings will remain unchanged and that Douglas Murray will not play against Carolina.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.

Lines and D pairings at practice:

Bourque – Plekanec – Gionta
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Gallagher
Prust – Eller – Galchenyuk
Bournival – White – Moen
Parros - Briere

Markov – Emelin
Gorges – Subban
Diaz – Bouillon
Murray

SEE ALSO
Words From The Room - Dec. 31
Game preview: MTL @ CAR
Mr. Baseball

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POSTED ON Monday, 30.12.2013 / 3:17 PM

- The Canadiens skated at PNC Arena in Raleigh on Monday afternoon ahead of their tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. It will be the first of three regular season meetings between the two teams during the 2013-14 campaign.

- Michel Therrien kept things loose at practice on Monday, affording his troops the opportunity to play a modified game of baseball. When it was all said and done, the team of P.K. Subban, Alex Galchenyuk, Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin and Max Pacioretty came out on top.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 28.12.2013 / 12:55 PM

- The Canadiens skated at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday morning ahead of their tilt against the Lightning. The game marks the second of four meetings between the two teams during the 2013-14 campaign. The Lightning bested the Canadiens 2-1 in a shootout back on Nov. 12 at the Bell Centre.

- Michael Bournival and Douglas Murray will both be healthy scratches, while Josh Gorges returns to the lineup after being sidelined for the Canadiens’ last game back on Dec. 21 with a lower-body injury. Ryan White will also make his return to the lineup on Saturday night alongside Travis Moen and Brandon Prust.

Even though head coach Michel Therrien has elected not to play Bournival against the Lightning, the Habs bench boss is adamant that the move is far from a step back for the NHL rookie.

“A guy like Bournival really surprised us at training camp and now he’s gaining experience. This is just how rookie seasons tend to go. It’s important not to forget that at training camp, every game he played was like a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final,” mentioned Therrien. “The speed of the league has gone up and that’s normal. If we put him in periodically, it’s not bad for his development either.”

- For his part, veteran forward Daniel Briere will take to the Tampa Bay Times Forum ice alongside Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk.

The 36-year-old, who has five goals and 10 points on the year, believes the newly formed trio has what it takes to give Jon Cooper’s troops all they can handle.

“It’s a line that can potentially do a lot of damage. I’m going to try to make the most of it. I think it worked well last game with Bourque and Eller. If it can continue along the same lines as that with Galchenyuk, it should be fun,” offered Briere, who will play his 28th game of the season on Saturday night.

“The three of us are kind of in similar situations. If my presence can help, it’s better for us,” added the Gatineau native. “The fact is that we’re all looking for more bounces to go our way. A break like the one we had and some positive energy can go a long way. Sometimes, it just takes one to get going and it can be something special.”

- Given the Lightning’s recent success, the Canadiens know full well that taking a division rival like Tampa Bay for granted would be a big mistake.

“It’s an important game for us. I don’t think there’ll be too many excuses in terms of how the guys are feeling. We’ve had more than enough time to get that out. They’re in the same situation as well with a couple of days off,” underlined defenseman P.K. Subban, who will line up alongside Josh Gorges on Saturday night. “We’ve got to make sure that we start off on the right foot and get back to the things that have made our team successful for the first portion of the season. They’re a great team. You can’t underestimate them. They play well as a team. They have a strong system, and they stick to it. We’ve got to play a disciplined game.”

- Carey Price will make his 31st start of the season for the Canadiens on Saturday night. Ben Bishop will likely get the call in goal for the Lightning.

- With plenty of snowbirds in town, the Lightning are expecting a sell-out crowd to take in the game on Saturday night.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.

Lines and D pairings at practice:

Pacioretty – Desharnais – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – Eller – Briere
Bourque – Plekanec – Gionta
Moen – White – Prust
Bournival – Parros

Gorges – Subban
Markov – Emelin
Murray – Bouillon
Diaz

SEE ALSO
Game preview: MTL @ TBL
Words From The Room - Dec. 28
Road Blog - Tampa Bay

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POSTED ON Friday, 27.12.2013 / 4:23 PM
- Upon arriving in Tampa Bay on Friday afternoon, the Canadiens skated at the Ice Sports Forum ahead of their Saturday night tilt against the Lightning. All players were present and accounted for as the Habs prepared to begin their four-game road swing.

- Defenseman Josh Gorges was back at practice on Friday afternoon after being sidelined for the Canadiens’ last game against the Nashville Predators on Dec. 21 with a lower-body injury. The veteran rearguard will be in the lineup against Tampa Bay.

- Carey Price will get the start in goal on Saturday night. Price holds a 9-6-3 record in 18 career games against the Lightning. The Anahim Lake, BC native dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to Tampa Bay back on Nov. 12, turning aside 44 of the 45 shots he faced on the night.

Lines and D pairings at practice:

Bourque – Plekanec – Gionta
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Gallagher
Prust – White – Moen
Galchenyuk – Eller – Briere
Parros - Bournival

Murray – Bouillon
Gorges – Subban
Markov – Emelin
Diaz

- Canadiens prospects Martin Reway and Artturi Lehkonen were both in action at the World Junior Hockey Championships on Friday. Reway scored a goal and picked up three assists in Slovakia’s 9-2 win over Germany. For his part, Lehkonen registered one goal and one assist in Finland’s 5-1 win over Norway. To check out how Canadiens prospects are faring at the WJHC, click here.
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