- The Canadiens practiced at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC on Thursday afternoon ahead of their tilt against the Capitals on Friday afternoon at 5 p.m.
- Defenseman Douglas Murray did not participate in practice on Thursday. He was given a therapy day. Murray was involved in a tough one-on-one tilt with John Scott in the Canadiens’ 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Peter Budaj will get the start in goal against the Capitals on Friday night. Budaj bested the Caps last Friday night in Washington, helping the Canadiens pick up a 3-2 win.
- While Rene Bourque skated alongside his teammates once again at practice on Thursday, it is still unknown whether he will be back in the lineup on Friday afternoon. The veteran winger has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury.
Magnus Nygren, a defenseman with the Hamilton Bulldogs, has been assigned to Färjestad of the Swedish Hockey League on Wednesday.
In 16 games with the Bulldogs, the 23 year-old blueliner has compiled eight points, including seven assists.
The right-hander was drafted by the Canadiens in the fourth round, 113th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
- The Canadiens announced that they have signed assistant general manager Rick Dudley to a contract extension.
"I love the city. I love the passion of the people, and the people that I work with," mentioned Dudley, who met with the media on Wednesday evening. "That goes from Marc [Bergevin] to Larry [Carriere] to Scott [Mellanby] and John [Sedgwick], and you go on to the coaching staff. I get along extremely well with Michel [Therrien]. He’s been a lot of fun. It’s a situation where I’ve been having fun, and I didn’t want to change."
- On Wednesday morning, the Canadiens skated at the First Niagara Center ahead of their tilt against the Buffalo Sabres.
- Wednesday night’s game will be the first of four meetings between the two clubs during the 2013-14 regular season campaign. Last season, the Habs went 2-1-2 against Buffalo overall, and were 1-0-1 at First Niagara Center.
- The Habs will look to extend their current winning streak to four games on Wednesday night. If successful, the Canadiens would match a season-high in that department, having previously won four consecutive contests from
Oct. 10th – 17th.
For their part, the Sabres sit last overall in the NHL standings with 11 points on the year. Buffalo has won just two of 13 home games this season. Despite the Sabres’ struggles thus far this year, the Canadiens aren’t underestimating their opponents.
“We’re definitely not taking the Sabres lightly,” underlined head coach Michel Therrien, whose squad will battle a Sabres contingent that is in the midst of a four-game losing skid. “I think that the players are conscious of the fact that in the NHL, every game is a tough one to play. I have no doubt about it, the guys will be ready to go tonight.”
- As expected, Carey Price will make his 20th start of the season and his 27th career start against the Sabres on Wednesday night. Price is 10-9-7 all-time versus Buffalo.
The Sabres, meanwhile, will start Ryan Miller between the pipes. Miller will be making his 19th start of the year. While the veteran netminder isn’t off to the start he'd hoped for in 2013-14 with a 4-14-0 record and a 3.11 goals-against average, the East Lansing, MI native has always managed to put up stellar performances against the Habs. Miller has 25 wins in 41 outings against the Canadiens, something members of the bleu-blanc-rouge are well aware of.
“They’ve got many good players, and a very, very good goaltender also who can win games by himself. I saw that happen plenty of times when I played here,” confided Daniel Briere, who played alongside Miller for four seasons during his stint in Buffalo. “There’s some danger involved in taking the Sabres lightly. Games likes these can be trap games. There’s so much parity in hockey today that you really can’t read much into the opposing team’s record.”
- The Canadiens practiced Tuesday morning at the Bell Sports Complex, hours before leaving for a short two-game roadtrip in Buffalo and Washington.
- The first part of practice was devoted to the powerplay. Coach Michel Therrien freely rotated his top three lines on the man advantage drills, and employed Markov-Subban and Bouillon-Diaz at the point.
- Rene Bourque, who missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, returned to practice wearing a red full contact jersey. He is cleared to return to action, but will not play on Wednesday.
- Carey Price will likely make his 20th start of the season Wednesday in Buffalo. It will be his 27th career game against the Sabres (10-9-7).
- Coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Peter Budaj will start one of the two games later in the week. He did not, however, mention if it will come against the Capitals on Friday and the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
LINES AT PRACTICE
The QMJHL announced on Monday morning that two members of the Canadiens organization - Patrice Brisebois and Gerard Gallant - were going to be inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame.
During his career in the Junior ranks, Brisebois played for the Laval Titan and the Drummondville Voltigeurs. For his part, Gallant suited up for the Sherbrooke - and Saint-Jean - Castors, before joining the Verdun Juniors. He also made his mark as a coach with the Saint-John Sea Dogs.
- The Canadiens trained at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday morning.
- Instead of the usual on-ice practice, the players were instead led by strength and conditional coach Pierre Allard in a series of off-ice exercises.
- After warming up on the Complex’s soccer field, the Habs partook in a circuit training program designed to prepare their bodies for a stretch of four games in six days.
- The Canadiens will visit Buffalo on Wednesday and Washington on Friday, before heading back to the Bell Centre to take on Toronto Saturday night and New Jersey next Monday.
WASHINGTON – The Habs held an optional morning skate at the Verizon Center on Friday.
Despite the session being optional, player turnout was large, with only Tomas Plekanec, Daniel Briere and Ryan White opting for a treatment day rather than going on the ice. There will be no changes to the Habs’ forward lines for Friday night.
Peter Budaj will make his fifth start of the season for the visiting team. Carey Price will be back in action Saturday night against the Penguins at the Bell Centre.
With two matches in 24 hours on the schedule, head coach Michel Therrien decided to give a day off to 38 year-old veteran Francis Bouillon. In his place will be Douglas Murray, who has been a healthy scratch for the past two games. Therrien did mention that Bouillon will return to the lineup the following night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We have seven healthy defensemen and I don’t want to leave a guy like Douglas Murray off the ice too long,” stated Therrien regarding the hulking Swede. “It’s a discussion we’ve had since Emelin returned to the lineup. At 38 years of age, we have to keep in mind that the season is a long one. Bouillon will be in the lineup tomorrow.”
On his end, Douglas Murray is happy with the decision and will look to slow down the powerful Capitals offence led by Alex Ovechkin. Despite sitting out against the Rangers and the Wild, he assures that there isn’t much rust to be shaken off.
“It’s not something that’s out of the ordinary, since I’ve missed some time with injury earlier this season. You just prepare yourself to the best of your ability and be ready to go,” offered Murray, who is always up for a challenge. “It’s a great scenario to face Ovechkin. I’m looking forward to playing and to make a good impression.”
Canadiens blueliner Raphael Diaz, known a highly cerebral two-way player, took some time after practice to explain the differences in style between Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, two of the most talented forwards in the league and the headliners for the Habs’ next two adversaries.
“For Ovechkin, you’ll have to be aware when he’s on the ice, for sure. He has a good shot, a good one-timer. You’ll always have to keep an eye on him,” asserts Diaz about the Russian all-star, who is Washington’s main trigger man, averaging six shots per game so far this season. “Ovechkin is bigger, he’s a winger so he’ll be more on the forecheck, looking to use his speed and his physicality.”
“Crosby is a centerman so he’ll play a bit more behind his winger. He is definitely a great passer, so that’s something we’ll have to watch out for as well,” added Diaz, noting the potency of Crosby’s elite calibre supporting cast in Pittsburgh.
“We’ll take it game by game. Tonight we want to be ready for Washington, and tomorrow is another game, another big team,” Montreal’s number 61 concluded. “In the meantime it’s important to get two points tonight.”
- The Canadiens skated in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of their departure for Washington where they’ll take on the Capitals on Friday night at the Verizon Center.
- The Habs were initially scheduled to travel to Washington on Thursday afternoon, but will now leave Montreal later on tonight.
- Rene Bourque was absent from practice on Thursday morning. He is still hampered by a lower-body injury that forced him to miss Tuesday night’s tilt against the Minnesota Wild. Bourque will not be in uniform against the Capitals on Friday night.
- Peter Budaj will get the start in goal against Washington.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
The Canadiens held an optional practice Wednesday morning at the Bell Sports Complex, on the heels of a 6-2 win over Minnesota at the Bell Centre Tuesday.
The players took part in shooting and skating drills under the instruction of assistant coaches Gerard Gallant and Clement Jodoin, while Carey Price and Peter Budaj were guided by goaltending coach Stephane Waite.
The Canadiens held an optional morning skate on Tuesday ahead of the evening matchup against the Minnesota Wild.
Despite the session being optional, players took to the ice in large numbers. Only Travis Moen, Ryan White, P.K. Subban and Rene Bourque preferred to take a treatment day rather than skate with the team.
The players worked on 2 vs. 1 flow drills in an effort to polish their offensive instincts. They wrapped up practice by doing shooting drills at both ends of the ice.
Carey Price was first off the ice, indicating that he will start for the Canadiens.
Head coach Michel Therrien shuffled the team’s forward lines at the previous practice, reuniting Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher. The trio had much success together during the 2012-13 season and was the most often used line by the coaching staff.
“This is what coaching is all about, trying to find different combinations. We work with the players and we want them to be successful,” offered Therrien after the morning skate. “These are guys who have played together and have had success in the past, so we are looking for that chemistry tonight.”
“We’ll try to create some momentum for the team,” vowed winger Brendan Gallgher. “I saw Davey’s shootout goal from my hotel room last week and was really happy for him. He’s a great passer and he can find you wherever you are on the ice, so I hope it’ll be the case tonight.”
Elsewhere, the Habs bench boss intends to keep rookie Michael Bournival and veteran Daniel Briere on the same line. The players generated some offensive punch together despite playing fourth-line minutes against the Rangers on Saturday.
“I liked what I saw from them. They had some quality scoring chances. One thing I like to see from a fourth line is an ability to control the puck and spend a lot of time in the opposing zone and this line can do that,” acknowledged Therrien.
Looking forward to Tuesday night’s game, the head coach made sure to give kudos to the visiting team, who is 13-4-4 on the strength of goaltender Josh Harding’s play.
“With all the adversity that Harding has gone through, you have to admire his courage and his ability to perform at such a high level despite his illness. I tip my hat to him. At the same time, it’s a challenge for us. The Wild does not allow many scoring chances and are able to capitalize on their chances. That’s why they are having a lot of success,” concluded Therrien.
It will be the second of two season meetings between the Habs and the Wild; the Minnesotans having won the game on November 1st by a score of 4 to 3.
“Every game is different, but when you’ve played against a team already, you know what to expect,” stated defenseman Josh Gorges. “Seeing how they’ve been playing recently, it’s not hard to imagine why they’re having so much success. We’ll have to focus on our game to go get two points tonight.”