- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of contesting Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins at the Bell Centre. Assistant coaches Clement Jodoin, Gerard Gallant and J.J. Daigneault led the skate along with goaltending coach Stephane Waite.
- Twenty players took part in the practice session on Thursday, including forwards Daniel Briere, David Desharnais, Ryan White, Travis Moen, Michael Bournival, Rene Bourque, Brandon Prust, Thomas Vanek, George Parros and Ryan White. Defensemen Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, Francis Bouillon, Jarred Tinordi, Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver were also on the ice, as was goaltender Peter Budaj.
- If the physicality meter tipped slightly in the Canadiens’ favor in Game 3, Michel Therrien’s troops fully expect the Bruins to come out swinging on Thursday night in an effort to tie the series at two games apiece.
|RAW: Travis Moen|
“Upping our physicality was an important part of our game plan. It was our objective,” stressed Travis Moen, who played his second game in the series on Tuesday night. “I expect the Bruins to come out with the same intensity they always play with. They’re big and strong, and they put a lot of pucks on net. That’s the way they’ve always done things. We have to play 60 minutes if we want to win and we have to get off to a good start just like we have the last few games.”
“I know they’ll want to open things up physically. Each game is a little more physical and a little more difficult than the last. We don’t expect anything different in Game 4,” offered Gorges, who was the Canadiens’ second-most utilized player on Tuesday night behind P.K. Subban. “Game 4 is big for both teams. We expect them to come out hard.”
- Head coach Michel Therrien mixed things up in Game 3, slotting Brendan Gallagher on a line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty early in the opening frame in place of Thomas Vanek, who lined up alongside Tomas Plekanec and Michael Bournival on Tuesday night.
A workhorse in every sense of the word, Gallagher brings a new dimension to the Canadiens’ top line, one that demands that both Desharnais and Pacioretty make changes in their respective games as well.
“We have to work a little more with Brendan. He goes into the corners, so we have to support him some more,” offered Desharnais, who has one goal and three points in seven postseason tilts. “With Vanek, we’re more likely to focus on playmaking, but with Gally it’s more about keeping things simple. We’re making plays going to the net. It’s up to us to work harder with him.”
A fan of Gallagher’s grit at both ends of the rink, Desharnais insists both he and Pacioretty are up to the challenge of making the necessary modifications to ensure the line clicks against the Bruins come the start of Game 4.
“We have to support him in the corners. He works exceptionally hard,” explained Desharnais, who boasts one goal and five points in 17 career playoff games. “With Vanek, it’s about moving the puck and making small plays. With Brendan, it’s all about battling.”
- Alexei Emelin has been a thorn in the Bruins’ side in the first half of the series, dishing out 15 hits through three games. A force to be reckoned with in the physicality department, Emelin has steadily earned a great deal of respect from head coach Michel Therrien, who believes the three-year NHL veteran has been an impact player in his first postseason experience.
“He’s a very physical defenseman who plays with a lot of courage. He doesn’t pay attention to anyone he goes up against in the corners. He’s a player who brings a good physical presence on the back end. He’s been doing exceptional work,” praised Therrien, referencing the fact that Emelin currently sits tied for first on the team with 25 hits and leads the Canadiens with 27 blocked shots during the postseason.
“He’s someone who’s becoming increasingly comfortable with his teammates and coaches. That helps. It’s a completely normal process,” added Therrien. “I really like the way he’s been expressing himself on the ice.”
For his part, Emelin has thoroughly enjoyed taking part in a series against the archrival Bruins, one that has afforded him the opportunity to take on a player with whom he shares some rather poignant history in Milan Lucic.
“I don’t just play hard against Lucic. I play against every team and every player the same way,” confided Emelin, who, like the rest of his teammates expects the Bruins to try to set the tempo early on Thursday night. “We expect that, but I keep my focus on the game. I like the competition that comes with playing against the Bruins.”
- The Canadiens held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
- Eighteen players took part in the practice session, including forwards Brendan Gallagher, Brandon Prust, Lars Eller, Dale Weise, Michael Bournival, Brian Gionta, David Desharnais, Travis Moen, George Parros, Max Pacioretty and Ryan White. Defensemen Francis Bouillon, Jarred Tinordi, P.K. Subban, Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver were also on the ice as were goaltenders Carey Price and Peter Budaj.
- The Bruins also practiced in Brossard on Wednesday. They skated on the secondary ice rink.
BROSSARD – On Tuesday morning, the Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex, hours before Game 3 against the Bruins
- Rene Bourque, who missed Monday’s practice with the flu, was back on the ice.
There were no line rushes during Tuesday’s morning skate, though there are reasons to believe that Douglas Murray will make his 2014 playoff debut in Game Three, he who practiced alongside Mike Weaver on Monday. The 34 year-old veteran’s heft could prove to be a difference-maker against the Bruins.
“I take a lot of pride in playing a tough but clean game. It depends on the game, but for sure I’ll try to be as physical as possible while staying within the limits of the rules,” explained the six-foot-three, 240 pound Murray, who could find himself assigned the unenviable task of defending Zdeno Chara’s netfront presence on the powerplay. “It’s a good challenge, trying to move Chara from the front of the net. He’s the biggest guy in a league and one of the toughest to battle with.”
Coach Michel Therrien preferred to keep his starting lineup a secret until Game Three’s opening faceoff, which means that Travis Moen and Ryan White, both scratches for Game Two in Boston, could draw back into the lineup at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.
“I hope I’ll be in the lineup tonight. But it’s like every other day. I come to the rink ready to go. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to contribute,” said White, who was first on the ice during the morning skate and spent some time alone working on his skating and shooting. Though he hasn’t been counted on to carry the load offensively, White does bring a few noteworthy assets to the table in this rough-and-tumble series. “I just want to play my game. Be physical, be good in the faceoff circle and bring some energy.”
With the series deadlocked at one game-all, the focus has not changed for winger Brendan Gallagher, who turned 22 on Tuesday.
“You go into every night with the same expectations. You put in the work and hope to come out with the win,” offered the birthday boy, who in just his second NHL season has already become a go-to guy for his team at even strength and on the powerplay. “We put in a good day of practice. We practiced with a purpose, based on what we expect to see from the Bruins. Now it’s about executing and putting that game plan into practice.”
As for Boston’s four-goal outburst in the third period of Game Two, Gallagher was adamant that getting a lead in the first place is the Habs’ main priority.
“I don’t think that affects our confidence at all. We’ve been a good third period team all year. As a group when we settle in and get the lead early, it helps our game,” he said. “I don’t think momentum carries over from game to game at this stage. It can change simply change by winning the opening faceoff. We’re at home and playing in front of our crowd, so that’ll be a boost for us as well.”
- After a day off on Sunday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex on Monday morning in preparation for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
- All players were present and accounted for at practice, except for Rene Bourque who was absent with the flu.
- In his post-practice press conference, head coach Michel Therrien indicated that he would not discuss any lineup changes for Game 3 prior to Tuesday. At practice, Therrien featured Ryan White between Dale Weise and Travis Moen, while Douglas Murray played alongside Mike Weaver on defense.
- Alex Galchenyuk skated on his own before practice as he continues to recover from a lower-body injury.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Once again this year, Canadiens fans are invited to vote for defenseman P.K. Subban as the cover player for EA Sports’ NHL 15 video game.
The first round of ballots will take place online between May 5 and May 18 and pits the Habs’ Norris Trophy winner against the Maple Leafs’ Phil Kessel.
Fans can cast their votes HERE. On Thursday, fans can also tweet their picks for the cover using the hashtag #NHL15Subban on Twitter. Each hashtag mention will count for two votes on Thursday only!
In 82 games this season, Subban has 10 goals and 43 assists for 53 total points. In six playoff games through May 5th, Subban leads the Habs with nine points, including two goals.
The Canadiens blueliner is an EA Sports NHL cover nominee for the third consecutive year.
- Head coach Michel Therrien met with the media on Saturday morning at TD Garden ahead of Game 2 of the Canadiens' Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins.
- Therrien confirmed that forward Michael Bournival would take Travis Moen’s spot in the lineup in Game 2. Bournival was a healthy scratch in Game 1 on Thursday night in favor of Moen who returned to active duty after an extended absence due to a concussion.
“It’s been a while since Travis played, and with two games packed so close together and the double overtime in Game 1, we decided to go with Bournival. He played some good hockey in the series against the Lightning,” offered Therrien.
- Therrien also indicated that he met with defenseman P.K. Subban to gauge his reaction to the discriminatory comments that appeared on social media networks following Game 1. The Canadiens bench boss offered Subban his full support, telling members of the media that the reigning Norris Trophy winner boasts the character and mental makeup to ignore what appeared online and focus on the task at hand.
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the TD Garden in Boston on Thursday morning ahead of contesting Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins.
- All players were present and accounted for at practice on Thursday morning, except for Max Pacioretty.
- The Canadiens did not feature any lines at practice. Head coach Michel Therrien indicated that he would not reveal his lineup prior to the start of Game 1. He also said that Travis Moen would be available for the game, if needed. Moen has been sidelined since sustaining a concussion on Mar. 24 against the Bruins.
- Boasting the most playoff experience on the Canadiens roster, Daniel Briere knows a thing or two about the upswing in physicality during the playoffs. The 36-year-old forward experienced that type of hockey as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I’ve had the chance to play some intense playoff hockey in my life. Philadelphia-Boston, Philadelphia-Pittsburgh. We all saw how things got out of hand a few years back,” mentioned Briere, who recalled the 2012 playoffs that featured a Flyers-Penguins matchup in which both clubs combined to rack up 309 penalty minutes during the series. “We’ll see what happens, but I’m comfortable in those types of series, too. I’ve been involved in series that have a similar type of feeling as this one. You never know how things are going to go. We’re ready for everything. That’s the beauty of hockey. You never know what to expect. ”
Briere, who has gone up against the Bruins 50 times during the regular season over the course of his NHL career, has a healthy respect for the Canadiens’ opponent in the second round. He insists the matchup is a special one.
“We feel good. We feel confident. We know that the Bruins are a great hockey team, but sometimes there are matchups that are more comfortable than others. We think that this might be one of them,” concluded Briere.
- It’s no secret what brand of hockey the Bruins intend to play against the Canadiens come puck drop on Thursday night in Boston. Simply put, Claude Julien’s troops are who they are, and they likely won’t deviate from an aggressive and hard-hitting style of play that enabled them to capture the Presidents’ Trophy this season before downing the Red Wings in five games in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs.
That being said, the Canadiens are coming off an impressive sweep of the Lightning in Round 1, and they don’t intend on deviating from what has brought them success thus far during the playoffs.
|RAW: Josh Gorges|
“We need to focus on what makes our team good no matter who we’re playing. We can’t try to play Boston Bruins hockey. We have to focus on what we do and how we make ourselves successful,” offered defenseman Josh Gorges, who will battle the Bruins in a playoff series for the third time in his NHL career beginning on Thursday night. “We’ve got to have guys that are in their face, that are willing to go to the net, live in the paint and not bump the goalie. You can’t be taking penalties. You can’t be taking retaliations if they give you an extra shot.”
In the midst of his third career playoff run – and second as a member of the Canadiens – Rene Bourque stressed a similar approach, noting the importance of maintaining self-discipline against a Bruins squad that boasts the top-ranked power play in the NHL this postseason.
“It’s playoffs. I think that penalties are just that much bigger when you take them and they can hurt you that much more,” offered Bourque, who sits tied with Brendan Gallagher for top spot on the team with three goals through four games during the playoffs. “There are guys on both sides that are agitators. Everybody knows who they are. We’ve just got to play smart.”
- Head coach Michel Therrien knows the Bruins and bench boss Claude Julien well. Interestingly enough, Julien was behind the bench in Hamilton during Therrien’s first coaching stint with the Canadiens. Needless to say, Therrien knows what the Bruins are capable of.
“We’re playing against the best team. Underdog or not, the Boston Bruins are the best team in the league right now. We understand that it’s a huge challenge not only for us, but for all of the teams that play them,” offered Therrien, who has prepared his team for Thursday night’s tilt over the last 10 days. “They finished in first place and it was well-deserved. We’re confident, though. I like the way that we finished the year. That gave us the confidence we needed coming into the playoffs. We had a really good first round. The way that we played in the first round gave us confidence for the next step.”
Words From The Room - May 1
Game 1 preview: MTL vs. BOS
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Bruins #1
- There was a good deal of work done on special teams, with five-on-four zone drills featuring the team’s designated powerplay and penalty kill players the focus early in the practice.
- The session was up-tempo, with plenty of quick passing drills emphasizing getting the puck from the defensemen up to the forwards and getting a rush going through the neutral zone.
- The players then took part in five-on-five zone drills, designed to simulate the intensity of a game situation.
- There were no changes to the line combinations on Tuesday. Coach Therrien will confirm the Game 1 lineup of his team on Thursday.
LINES AT PRACTICE
- To mix up the team’s routine, the coaching staff have arranged to simulate a game day. On the menu: a short morning skate with all the players, an afternoon team-building activity, and a closed scrimmage at the Bell Centre involving Habs and Bulldog call-ups in the evening.
- Assistant coach Clement Jodoin took time to go over powerplay formations with the players while assistant coach Jean-Jacques Daignault conferred with the designated penalty killers.
- Most of the practice was dedicated to special teams work, with the powerplay units trying out new formations.
- There are no changes in the lineup from yesterday’s session.
LINES AT PRACTICE
- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sunday morning. All players were present and accounted for, minus Alex Galchenyuk who remains sidelined due to injury.
- Head coach Michel Therrien tweaked his forward lines slightly on Sunday. Travis Moen skated on a line with Daniel Briere and Dale Weise, while Michael Bournival lined up alongside George Parros and Ryan White. The defensive pairings, however, remained the same as in previous practices.
Lines and pairings at practice: