POSTED ON Friday, 22.11.2013 / 12:05 PM

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.”

Projected lineup




RAW: Murray
Game preview: Canadiens @ Capitals
A challenge awaits

POSTED ON Thursday, 21.11.2013 / 1:08 PM

- 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:



POSTED ON Wednesday, 20.11.2013 / 11:36 AM

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.

George Parros, Douglas Murray, Travis Moen, Ryan White and Michael Bournival took to the ice. Both goaltenders were also in attendance.

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.

POSTED ON Tuesday, 19.11.2013 / 12:05 PM

The Canadiens held an optional morning skate on Tuesday ahead of the evening matchup against the Minnesota Wild.

Tomas Plekanec was the first player out, and practiced picking corners with his snap shot from the faceoff dot. Carey Price, Peter Budaj and Michael Bournival joined him on the ice soon thereafter.

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.”

Game preview: Canadiens vs. Wild

RAW: Prust

POSTED ON Monday, 18.11.2013 / 11:55 AM

- After a day off on Sunday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday morning ahead of their Tuesday night tilt against the Minnesota Wild at the Bell Centre.

- The Habs honed their power play ahead of the start of practice with coaches Jean-Jacques Daigneault, Clement Jodoin and Gerard Gallant.

- Michael Bournival practiced alongside Daniel Briere and Travis Moen, while Brendan Gallagher was paired with Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais.

- The Canadiens spent significant time working on one-on-one battles along the boards, in addition to their five-on-five play.

Lines and D pairings at practice:

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

Subban – Markov
Gorges – Emelin
Bouillon – Diaz

POSTED ON Friday, 15.11.2013 / 11:29 AM

The Canadiens skated at Nationwide Arena on Friday morning ahead of their game against the Blue Jackets on Friday night.

- Brendan Gallagher is suffering from flu-like symptoms and did not practice with the team. The 21-year-old winger will be evaluated closer to game time to determine if he will play against the Blue Jackets.

“There’s not much to say about it,” explained Michel Therrien. “He was feeling sick last night and wasn’t better this morning. Our therapists advised him to stay at the hotel this morning and we’ll see how he’s feeling tonight.”

Bournival celebrates his Memorial Cup victory

- Therrien also confirmed a few other changes he’s made to his lineup heading into Friday’s game, with David Desharnais slated to return to action on the fourth line after being a healthy scratch against Tampa Bay. The Habs will also count on the services of Brandon Prust for the first time since the gritty winger injured his shoulder on October 19 against the Predators, having missed 11 games in that span.

“We did a lot of battle drills yesterday with a lot of contact and he felt good after, even after battling with [Douglas] Murray,” shared Therrien. “He feels good this morning so there’s no reason he wouldn’t be in the lineup tonight. That’s great news for us.”

- Michael Bournival will be facing former Shawinigan teammate, Michael Chaput, for the first time as an NHLer on Friday night following Chaput’s callup from the AHL’s Springfield Falcons.

“It’s fun to see him here,” mentioned Bournival, who captained the Cataractes to the 2012 Memorial Cup. “We’ll play against each other in the NHL. We never imagined we’d get to do this so quickly. I’m really happy to see him up here. He’s a great player. Especially during the Memorial Cup, you really saw what he’s capable of doing on the ice.”

- Peter Budaj will get his fourth start of the season on Friday night, marking the Slovak netminder’s 13th career appearance against the Blue Jackets. Budaj will look to build on his 7-5-0 all-time record against Columbus.

Puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m. at Nationwide Arena.


Game preview: Canadiens @ Blue Jackets
Words from the room

POSTED ON Thursday, 14.11.2013 / 11:34 AM

- The Canadiens skated in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of their afternoon departure for Columbus where they’ll take on the Blue Jackets on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.

- Prior to the start of practice, the Canadiens’ special teams units worked on both the power play and penalty kill with assistant coaches Jean-Jacques Daigneault, Clement Jodoin and Gerard Gallant.

- George Parros was not on the ice on Thursday morning. He was given a therapy day. Parros will, however, accompany the team to Columbus.

- Brandon Prust skated alongside his teammates once again on Thursday morning, and was being rotated on several lines. Alexei Emelin, meanwhile, skated with several different defense partners. Both are traveling with the team to Columbus, but neither will be in the lineup on Friday night.

- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Peter Budaj will make his fourth start of the season against the Blue Jackets. He is 2-1-0 thus far this season with a 1.34 goals-against average.

Lines and D pairings at practice:

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

Murray – Diaz
Bouillon – Gorges
Subban – Markov

POSTED ON Wednesday, 13.11.2013 / 11:42 AM

BROSSARD - The Canadiens held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex on Monday morning, following a 1-2 shootout loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning the previous night.

-Goaltender Peter Budaj was first out with coach Stephane Waite and worked hard on his movement and timing, foreshadowing a possible start either Friday or Saturday. Meanwhile, Carey Price took a therapy day.

-Brandon Prust took to the ice wearing a regular red practice jersey, as opposed to the blue non-contact sweater he had been donning in previous days.

-Nine skaters took part in passing and shooting drills led by coaches Gerard Gallant, Clement Jodoin and Jean-Jacques Daigneault. Forwards were Brandon Prust, Daniel Briere, David Desharnais, George Parros, Michael Bournival, Ryan White and Travis Moen. Only Douglas Murray and Alexei Emelin skated on defense.

-Earlier, the team announced that Gabriel Dumont and Greg Pateryn were reassigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs.

POSTED ON Wednesday, 13.11.2013 / 11:00 AM

Defenseman Greg Pateryn and forward Gabriel Dumont were reassigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs and will rejoin the team today.

Pateryn did not see action during his stint in Montreal, while Dumont played two games in the Canadiens uniform, on November 10th and 12th.

POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.11.2013 / 11:17 AM

- The Canadiens held an optional skate in Brossard on Tuesday morning ahead of their tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre. Brian Gionta, Max Pacioretty, Rene Bourque, Tomas Plekanec, Ryan White, Francis Bouillon and Raphael Diaz were absent from practice.

The Habs will be in tough against the Lightning, who currently sit atop the atlantic division. Before dropping a 3-0 decision to the Bruins on Monday afternoon in Boston, Tampa Bay had won four straight games. The Lightning, however, will be deprived of Steven Stamkos' services for the foreseeable future after the Markham, ON native suffered a broken right tibia in the team's last outing. Stamkos will be sidelined indefinitely.

"There's no doubt that for their team it's a big loss. When you talk about Stamkos, you're talking about an elite player who is dominant in the NHL," admitted head coach Michel Therrien. "The Lightning are still a good team that's playing really good hockey. You never want to see elite players sidelined for extended periods of time. They attract people to the game."

- Daniel Briere will make his return to the lineup against the Lightning after being sidelined since October 19th with a concussion. The 36-year-old, who missed the last 10 games, had been skating alongside his teammates since last Thursday.

"It feels great to finally be back. When you’re not playing, especially when the team is having a tough stretch like we had with those four losses in a row, you feel responsible. It’s not fun being on the outside," mentioned Briere, who will likely center a line that also features Bourque and Michael Bournival on Tuesday night. "Best case scenario, there won’t be any adjustments and I'll fit right back in. That’s what I’m hoping for and that’s what I’m visualizing. Getting back playing in the middle also helps. I’ve played center for the most part in my career."

- For the first time since suffering a shoulder injury on October 19th against the Predators, Brandon Prust took part in practice with the rest of the squad. He sported a blue “no contact” jersey during the on-ice session. Therrien confirmed that Prust's recovery is progressing nicely and that the London, ON native will participate in regular practices going forward.

- Travis Moen was back at practice after missing Monday’s skate with the flu. The Habs bench boss confirmed that Moen will be in the lineup against the Lightning as will Gabriel Dumont. David Desharnais, however, will be a healthy scratch.

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

Words From The Room - Nov. 12
Game preview: Lightning @ Canadiens
Distinguished gentleman