- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday morning ahead of their tilt against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre. The Habs will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak.
- Before the start of practice, Clement Jodoin spent about half an hour working on the power play on one side of the ice, while Stephane Waite, for his part, spent one-on-one time with Carey Price, who will be returning to NHL action on Saturday night for the first time since Feb. 8. It will be Price’s 49th start of the season.
“Carey Price will play tonight. It’s great news. He had a really good day at practice on Friday. He went through that process. He worked really hard and felt good. We met with him after practice, and we were saying yesterday that we’d see how he was feeling this morning. We met with him and the medical staff and they confirmed that he’s ready to play,” offered head coach Michel Therrien, who was visibly excited to confirm the return of his starter after an eight-game absence. “He’s had his mindset since Thursday that he wanted to make a comeback. He’s got to think like that. He looked really good yesterday. He looked good again this morning.”
- The lines Michel Therrien utilized during the morning skate were the same as those fielded by the Canadiens bench boss at practice on Friday morning. Defenseman Mike Weaver could be a healthy scratch, while forwards Rene Bourque, Ryan White and George Parros could also be scratches against Ottawa.
- Daniel Briere will be playing alongside a few familiar faces come Saturday night. The 36-year-old, who has gone pointless in his last six games, will be reunited on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta to form a trio that saw its fair share of success earlier this season. Briere, who hasn’t lit the lamp since posting a two-goal effort on Feb. 27 in Pittsburgh, is hopeful the line can click quickly against the Senators.
“It’s exciting. I love the look of our lineup. I think we can be dangerous. Obviously, it’s a great chance once again for me. Our line had a lot of success the first few games we played together. I’m looking forward to it,” praised Briere, who has 17 goals and 40 points in 46 career games against Ottawa. “For some reason, it works out. Sometimes chemistry is tough to explain. If you would’ve said which players I would’ve had the most chemistry with at the beginning of the year, I probably wouldn’t have picked them. But, it works. We just to seem to know where each other is out there. Hopefully, it translates once again on the ice.”
- Thomas Vanek has spent the better part of his NHL career playing on the left side of the ice, but the 30-year-old winger will see some time on the right side against the Senators. That suits the Austrian-born forward just fine, most notably because he’ll have the opportunity to play with a pair of offensive threats in their own right in Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais.
“It’s fine. Obviously, I’ve played the majority of my career on the left, but any time you get the opportunity to play with two good players, I think you take it and you make the best of it,” noted Vanek, who has one assist in three games since being dealt to the Canadiens back on Mar. 5. “We’ve had a good couple of practices together.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.
Projected lineup vs. OTT:
Words From The Room - Mar. 15
Game preview: MTL vs. OTT
The Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation Radio-Telethon to raise over $130,000
Three of a kind
- Michael Bournival was cleared for full contact and practiced with a regular red jersey. He had been out since February 6 with concussion symptoms. On Friday, Bournival took turn on Ryan White’s line during practice.
- Carey Price took part in the practice alongside Peter Budaj and
- After working on the powerplay, the players took part in high intensity battle drills in the offensive zone. On one occasion, Alexei Emelin checked Lars Eller to the ground along the boards, drawing cheers from their teammates.
- Thomas Vanek worked out alongside Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais. The trio was assembled last weekend for powerplay usage, but is now skating together on a full-time basis.
LINES AT PRACTICE
- The coaches spent time before the start of practice working on the powerplay. Thomas Vanek lined up alongside David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty on the first powerplay wave while Alex Galchenyuk, Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher and Daniel Briere alternated as the forwards on the second wave.
- The Habs are gearing up for their third season match-up against the Bruins, having won the two previous 2013-14 confrontations against Boston. Going back to last season, Montreal is a perfect 5-0 against their division rival.
“They’ve been close games and we’ve just been on the better side of those close games. For us we just want to focus on what we do well. We’re a fast team so we want to get on the forecheck and play an intense style of hockey,” acknowledged Brendan Gallagher. “Everyone knows the style the Bruins want to play. They’re a big, physical team which can hit and make plays. We’ve been successful at sticking with what we do well and we need to do that again tonight.”
- Francis Bouillon will draw back into the lineup on Wednesday night. It will be the veteran defenseman’s 38th game of the season, he who had been in and out of the lineup due to a glut of defensemen on the roster.
“It wont be the first time that I come back into the lineup after missing several games,” said Bouillon, who is in his 11th season with the Habs. “It’s not easy to get back and find your full confidence. I’ll try to stay in my game plan and find my game as quickly as possible. The game against the Bruins will be very important for the standings at the end of the season.”
“I have full confidence that Francis Bouillon will be a strong presence for us,” offered coach Michel Therrien, who paired the veteran blueliner with P.K. Subban during the morning skate and also employed him on powerplay drills. “He’s always had a great work ethic and attitude even when he is not playing, and he’s in good enough shape to handle a big workload.”
- Michael Bournival practiced wearing a non-contact jersey
- Brandon Prust will return to the lineup against the Bruins.
- Carey Price participated in the full on-ice workout and is nearing a return to play.
- Peter Budaj will make the start against Boston. The Slovakian netminder was in front of the net in the Habs’ last game versus the Bruins, a 4-1 win in Boston.
Projected lineup vs. BOS:
Michael Bournival practiced wearing a non-contact jersey, while Brandon Prust has been cleared for full contact and wore a regular white jersey.
Carey Price participated in the on-ice workout and is nearing a return to play.
Douglas Murray had a therapy day and did not skate.
The team spent a great deal of time working on their powerplay and penalty kill schemes. Thomas Vanek lined up alongside David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty on the first powerplay wave while remaining with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta in other drills. Alex Galchenyuk, Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher and Daniel Briere alternated as the forwards on the second wave.
After practice, Coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Francis Bouillon will return to the lineup on Wednesday against Boston. All other personnel decisions will be announced on game day.
Lines at practice:
Every player took the ice for the morning skate in San Jose after a day off on Friday. Carey Price joined his teammates midway through practice after undergoing treatment on his lower body injury.
Michael Bournival (concussion) was the lone member of the blue no-contact jersey club on Saturday morning as Brandon Prust donned a red sweater for the first time since suffering an upper body injury in mid-February. Prust received the green light from team doctors to play but will not be in the lineup against San Jose.
“Medically, he’s ready to play but he hasn’t had a full practice with the team since the Olympic break, so we want to give him at least a practice with the team before he plays a game,” explained head coach Michel Therrien. “It’s been two weeks since we’ve been able to have a real, full practice because we’ve played a lot of games in a short period of time. He’s cleared to play, but we’ll give him a few practices to get ready and he’ll be in the lineup against the Bruins on Wednesday.”
|Max Pacioretty's 30th of the season|
For a second time in his NHL career, Max Pacioretty has reached the 30-goal benchmark in a season. With 17 games left to go until the end of the regular season, the 27-year-old sniper hasn’t started looking ahead to the next milestone he has to cross off his Bucket List.
“I’m just worried about trying to win hockey games, [scoring 40 goals] never crossed my mind,” underlined the New Canaan, CT native. “There’s a reason I say I always love playing with Davey [Desharnais] and it’s because he’s an unselfish player. He doesn’t need the glory; he just goes out there and makes the right play. I have to credit a lot of my success to playing with him.”
Peter Budaj will enjoy his 20th outing of the year on Saturday night, looking to build on his 3-6-1 record against San Jose in 10 career starts against.
Daniel Briere will hit another career milestone against the Sharks, set to suit up for his 900th game in the league. The 36-year-old forward has 297 goals and 680 points so far in his 16-year NHL career, including nine goals and 14 points against San Jose.
Back at the Shark Tank for the first time since leaving his former team, bruising Habs blue-liner Douglas Murray isn’t about to hold back on his friends and former teammates when he hits the ice at SAP Center as a visitor on Saturday night.
“I’m a little weird; I think I actually play harder against my friends,” admitted Murray with a laugh, having left the Sharks for the Penguins at the trade deadline last year before signing as a free agent in Montreal in July. “I think the biggest thing for me is trying to stay calm and focused on my game, not looking for the big hits because I usually get myself in trouble with that. Hopefully with the experience I have I’ll try to play a solid game for us and not worry about that. If I get a chance, though, I’ll let one go.”Lines and D pairings at practice
Words from the room
Game preview: MTL @ SJS
After being acquired from the Islanders on Wednesday, Thomas Vanek arrived at the team hotel in Phoenix early Thursday morning. He met with the players and the coaching staff at the hotel but did not skate. He will be in the lineup against the Coyotes, but did not confirm who he would be playing with on a line.
|Vanek meets the media|
“Any time [you get traded] you’re excited to come in and meet the guys,” shared Vanek, who spent the first two seasons of his career playing with Daniel Briere in Buffalo. “It’s a little bit overwhelming, but since the minute I found out I had been traded to Montreal, they’ve treated me first class. We just had a quick meeting this morning and I’m sure coach will let me know [who I’m playing with] later.”
Josh Gorges flew back to Montreal on Thursday morning with a hand injury to be evaluated by team doctors. He will not be available to play against the Coyotes or Sharks.
Marc Bergevin will be arriving in Phoenix on Thursday in time for the game and will meet with the media at Jobing.com Arena before puck drop.
Peter Budaj will likely get the start for the Canadiens against Phoenix after Dustin Tokarski enjoyed starting duties on Wednesday night in Anaheim. In 15 career games against the Coyotes, the 31-year-old netminder owns an 8-3-3 record and a 2.70 goals-against average.
Vanek's first media scrum as a Hab
Game preview: MTL @ PHX
A first to remember
Dustin Tokarski will make his first start of the season on Wednesday night. In seven career NHL starts, Tokarski owns a 1-3-1 record over two seasons with Tampa. Prior to being called up by the Canadiens, Tokarski had compiled a record of 13-2-1 in 17 games in Hamilton, owning a 2.34 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.
After being traded to the Canadiens for a 2015 fifth-round pick on Tuesday, Mike Weaver joined the Canadiens in Anaheim on Tuesday night and was on the ice with his new team on Wednesday morning. The 5-foot-10 blue-liner was paired with Francis Bouillon for the morning skate and will not play against the Ducks.
Brandon Prust (upper body) and Michael Bournival (concussion) were wearing blue no-contact jerseys at practice and will not play on Wednesday night.
Carey Price took to the ice briefly on his own for the second day in a row as he continues recovering from a lower body injury.
After missing the previous game against the Kings, George Parros will be back in the lineup to face his former team in Anaheim. Parros spent six seasons in Anaheim from 2006-07 to 2011-12 and will be facing his former team in Anaheim for the first time. Lars Eller will not play against the Ducks.
“It’s my first game back and I’m really looking forward to it. The lockout prevented us from coming out here last year so I’m excited to be here,” shared Parros, who won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2006-07. “There are a lot of familiar faces and a lot of good memories, from the security guys on down. I’m looking forward to tonight and hopefully getting a win. They’re on fire this year. Hopefully we can take two points from them.”
After being acquired by the Canadiens on Wednesday afternoon from the Islanders for a second-round pick in 2014 and prospect Sebastian Collberg, Thomas Vanek will not be available for Wednesday’s game but will be in the lineup against Phoenix on Thursday. Vanek will wear No. 20 with the Canadiens.
“Wow, what great news for our team,” mentioned head coach Michel Therrien, who hadn’t spoken to Vanek prior to meeting with the media and wouldn’t confirm who he envisions his new winger playing with. “I look at that move as a sign of confidence from Marc Bergevin to the players for the work they’ve put in since the start of the season. It’s a really exciting addition. It’s important for us to continue doing what we’ve been doing all year now. Thomas Vanek is a prolific scorer who can play on the right side or the left. We all know what he can bring to a power play, too.”
Lines and D pairings at practice
Lines and D pairings at practiceGalchenyuk-Plekanec-Gionta
Game preview: MTL @ ANA
Canadiens acquire goaltender Devan Dubnyk from the Nashville Predators
Changing on the fly
Canadiens acquire defenseman Mike Weaver from the Florida Panthers
Seven players skated at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, CA, on Tuesday afternoon, including Dustin Tokarski, Lars Eller, Brandon Prust, Francis Bouillon, Ryan White, Michael Bournival and George Parros. The rest of the team stayed at the hotel to take part in an off-ice workout capped off by an informal game of basketball.
|Price skates for the first time|
Carey Price was also on the ice for the first time since leaving practice with a lower body injury upon his return from the Olympics. Price admitted he aggravated a lingering injury during the second practice of the Olympic tournament, but was able to play through it. The three-time All-Star worked with Habs goaltending coach Stephane Waite for about 20 minutes on Tuesday afternoon on movement exercises and puck handling after undergoing treatment with the team’s medical staff, but is still considered day-to-day to get back into game action.
“It felt good to get on the ice. It’s coming down to the important part of the year and I want to go into this stretch 100%,” explained Price, who has missed the team`s last four games after returning from Sochi with a gold medal. “I’m feeling good and progressing. The last 20 games of the year are a real mental grind and I want to make sure I’m prepared for the rest of the year and the playoffs. We still have a lot of hockey left this year and I want to make sure I’m good to go. It’s manageable but I want it to be 100% before we go into the important stages of the year.”
Also slowly working his way back into the lineup, Brandon Prust is inching closer to making his return from an upper-body injury, but confirmed he is unlikely to play against Anaheim or Phoenix. While he works on his own recovery, he was happy to see his fellow clinic client back on the ice in full gear.
“I think everybody was kind of watching [Carey] come out and getting excited. I wanted to go give him a hug,” admitted Prust with a laugh after seeing Price step on the ice midway through Tuesday’s skate. “It’s good. We want him to take it slow and do the right things to make sure he’s 100% when he comes back to be ready for a long run. In the meantime, Peter [Budaj] has been doing a great job and we’re really fortunate to have him.”
After playing with Mike Weaver in Los Angeles and Florida earlier in his career, George Parros will once again be sharing an NHL dressing room with the veteran blue-liner. While the team awaits Weaver’s arrival in Anaheim, Parros was able to offer up a scouting report on what fans can expect from the newest Hab.
“He’s a great character guy. He’s short in stature but he packs a big punch,” shared Parros, who spent two seasons with Weaver as a King and Panther. “He can hit guys, he’s got a good pop out there, he’s solid defensively, he’s good on the PK, he blocks a lot of shots and I think you’re going to like him. I know we’re going to like him.”
With less than 24 hours before the NHL trade deadline, Michel Therrien was also a fan of GM Marc Bergevin’s first move of week. While he didn’t confirm whether or not Weaver would be in the lineup against the NHL’s top-ranked team on Wednesday, the Canadiens’ coach is looking forward to seeing what his newest blue-liner will bring to the mix.
“He excels on the penalty kill. He’s not a big guy but he’s physical and he competes. There are a lot of people in the organization who know him and they know he’s the kind of player we need,” explained Therrien, who will also confirm Wednesday’s starting goaltender after the morning skate in Anaheim. “The important thing is that today, Marc made our team better. We wanted a guy who could bring depth to the lineup. He’s a veteran, he’s a competitor and he’s a character guy. DLeftepth on defense is so important because you never know what will happen. It’s a great pick up for us.”
Following their media availability, the team boarded a bus bound for Anaheim and will face the league-leading Ducks at 10:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday night.
RAW: Carey Price
RAW: Michel Therrien
“Carey is still day-to-day,” confirmed head coach Michel Therrien. “As soon as the medical staff feels he’s ready to start practicing, he’s going to go on the ice, but obviously he was not today. He’s just doing treatment now.”
Peter Budaj will get his fourth-straight start on Monday night, having already helped the team pick up five points out of a possible six since taking over starting duties with Price on the shelf. Budaj will look to build on his 6-2-1 career record against Los Angeles, currently owning an all-time 2.90 goals-against average and .894 save percentage against the Kings.
“Every time Buds is in he gives us a very good chance to win the hockey game,” stressed Brendan Gallagher. “He makes saves at timely moments – big saves that get guys excited and he gives us confidence so we play confident in front of him. As a team we’re confident in both our goalies regardless of who’s in the net. Buds has done what he’s always done and what we expect him to do; he shows up, he works as hard as he can in practice every day and when he gets a chance to play he plays as well as he can.”
The Canadiens’ hockey operations department is in California preparing for Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, but Marc Bergevin did not make the trip following the death of his mother-in-law. The Habs GM will spend the next few days with his family, while working the phones from Chicago. With the deadline less than 48 hours away, Therrien isn’t worried about the possibility of some of his troops not making the return trip to Montreal becoming a distraction between Monday morning and Wednesday afternoon.
“The trade deadline isn’t really a subject of discussion or a distraction with our group,” shared the Habs bench boss. “We’re also pretty far from Montreal out here in California so there’s a lot less talk about it surrounding us. Our preoccupation is preparing for games and that’s what we’re doing.”
Looking back on the last time the Habs and Kings faced off, a 6-0 loss to LA on home ice on Dec. 10 following 9-01 unbeaten streak, the Canadiens have absorbed the lessons they learned from that first meeting and aren’t planning on putting together an encore performance at the Staples Center. Currently the hottest team in the league boasting an NHL-best 7-1-2 record over the last 10 games, the Habs will look to continue that pace during the western road swing, beginning Monday night in Los Angeles.
“We do have to go back and look at that [game against the Kings]. There are a lot of things we didn’t do well and I don’t think anybody wants to repeat the effort we gave that night,” admitted Lars Eller, who will play on a line with Rene Bourque and Daniel Briere with Ryan White making his return to the lineup against the Kings. “We’ve come a long way and fixed that lately and shown a lot of character by coming back in third periods, bouncing back and finding ways to win games. We take it one game at a time and we have a lot of respect for LA, but really it’s all about us and what we’re going to do out there.”
Lines and D pairings at practiceGalchenyuk-Plekanec-Gionta
Words from the room
Game preview: MTL @ LAK
Ryan White, who was out with the flu, skated with his teammates but is not expected to play tonight.
Michael Bournival practiced with the team for a second day in a row, indicating that he is making good progress in his return from a concussion. Once again, he wore a blue “non-contact” jersey.
- Drawing in for White in a second consecutive game will be George Parros, who is looking forward to renewing an age-old rivalry with Toronto after a long Olympic break.
“You never know what’s going to happen after a break like that, but we’ve handled it pretty well,” offered Parros, who saw his team get a point in an overtime loss against Detroit before suiting up against the Penguins and helping the team to a shootout win. “They’re fun games to play in. It’s always interesting when there’s something extra on the line, with the playoff implications of [tonight’s game].”
- Lars Eller also weighed in with his thoughts about the Habs-Leafs rivalry.
“It doesn’t matter what the standings positions are, I think the intensity has always been there. You can always feel the electricity in the building when a team like Toronto is in town. Everybody is pumped up,” said Eller. “It’s a big divisional match-up, we’re very close in the standings and who knows, we might even play against Toronto in the playoffs at some point.”
- Newcomer Dale Weise, acquired just before the Olympic break, is very familiar with the extent of the antagonism between the two Original Six franchises. In fact, as a Vancouver Canuck, catching the end of a Habs-Leafs Saturday night tilt was often part of his pre-game routine.
“Playing out West, we caught a lot of those games before going on the ice. We had the TV on while get dressed up. I’m very familiar with those Saturday night games,” acknowledged the rugged right-winger. “Both teams are comfortable playing a physical style. We’re okay playing it too. I think it’s a lot of team’s game plan when they face Montreal, but our team is very physical as well. We always play hard. We have a couple big bodies, so we can play physical too.”
An occasional healthy scratch in Vancouver, Weise is happy to be able to contribute to his new team on a nightly basis, having played in five of five scheduled games since being traded to Montreal.
“I don’t know if anybody’s counting, but we got nine out of 10 points since I got here,” joked the Winnipeg native.