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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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POSTED ON Friday, 20.12.2013 / 4:05 PM

The Canadiens practiced at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Friday morning. Josh Gorges was the only player not on the ice, opting to take a therapy day.

Michel Therrien confirmed Francis Bouillon will be in the lineup against his former team on Saturday night after missing the last five games as a healthy scratch. Bouillon spent three seasons in Nashville from 2009-10 to 2011-12, the only other team he’s played with outside Montreal in his 14-year NHL career.

Daniel Briere will also likley make his return to the lineup on Saturday after watching Thursday’s game in St. Louis from the pressbox as a healthy scratch. The 36-year-old forward practiced on a line with Rene Bourque and Lars Eller on Friday morning.

Carey Price will get his 30th start of the season on Saturday night and will look to register his first career win against the Predators in his four starts against Nashville.

Andrei Markov celebrated his 35th birthday on Friday by practicing with his teammates in Tennessee.

Lines at practice

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

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POSTED ON Thursday, 19.12.2013 / 12:36 PM

The Canadiens held an optional practice in St. Louis ahead of Thursday’s game. Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanec and Lars Eller did not skate with the team.

Michel Therrien confirmed Ryan White will play against the Blues after missing Tuesday’s game in Montreal. He will replace Daniel Briere in the lineup, who will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season on Thursday night.

“I’m not the first veteran [to be a healthy scratch] and I won’t be the last. It happens,” offered Briere, who has five goals and 10 points in 26 games as a Hab since signing in Montreal this summer. “I can’t control what happens today; all I can control is my attitude going forward and how I work to get back in the lineup when I get the chance.”

After struggling to heat up at the start of the year, the 2013 free agent acquisition appeared to be hitting his stride in November, picking up six points in nine games last month. December hasn’t been quite as fruitful for the 16-year veteran, who has just one point in his last nine games.

“Honestly, it’s not a question of confidence. The confidence is there,” he stressed. “I feel good on the ice. At the beginning of the season, my confidence wasn’t there and things weren’t going great. I wasn’t feeling comfortable, but that’s normal when you come into a new team and a new system. I feel good on the ice now. It has nothing to do with confidence.”

Filling in for Briere on the team’s fourth line, White is a prime candidate to explode out of the gate in St. Louis after seeing action in just 28 of the team’s 36 games so far this season. The 25-year-old forward will be hoping to use Thursday’s game as a chance to earn a repeat performance against Nashville on Saturday night.

“You want to prove you belong in the lineup and when you’re not, you’re just working hard trying to stay in shape so when your name gets called, you’re ready to go,” described White, whose workload has averaged 9:45 a night when he’s been in the lineup. “You come to the rink prepared to play and today is no different; it’s just good to come in and see my name on the sheet and get a chance to play again.”

Carey Price will get his 29th start of the season on Thursday night, looking to build on his 1-2-0 career record against the Blues. Price is currently sixth among all NHL netminders with a .936 save percentage this year.

At the other end of the ice, the Canadiens will look to put a few pucks past Price’s former creasemate, Jaroslav Halak, who has a .959 save percentage, 0.97 goals-against average and 3-0-0 record against Montreal in his career but carries a 48th-ranked .908 save percentage into Thursday’s game. The Habs will also be hoping to put an end to a first period goal drought on Thursday night, having scored just one first period goal through nine games so far in December.

“We wish [Jaro] nothing but the best, but hopefully tonight we can jump on him early if we get the chance,” shared Max Paciroetty, who leads the Canadiens with 14 goals this year. “I don’t know if he has extra motivation against us, but we have motivation to prove to people we’re not the team we’ve shown in the past five games or so.”

Having had a chance to face the Slovak netminder in practice during his first two years with the Canadiens, Pacioretty has a fairly thorough scouting report on his former teammate – not that it will make much difference to the 25-year-old sniper’s game plan.

“I don’t think too much about goalies like that. I have ideas of where I like to shoot in different situations and I don’t really change it up for different goalies,” he mentioned. “I know he’s a great goalie and it’s going to take your best shot to beat him or a good screen to beat him so the plan is to just do the same thing, but bear down a little bit more.”

If the Canadiens do manage to get on the board early, it bodes well for the rest of the game. This season, the team is 16-2-1 when scoring first and holds a 10-2-1 record when leading at the first intermission. Game time is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. (EST) in St. Louis.

SEE ALSO:
Game preview: MTL @ STL
Words from the room

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 17.12.2013 / 11:42 AM

- The Canadiens held an optional skate Tuesday morning at the Bell Sports Complex ahead of a home game against the Phoenix Coyotes in the evening.

- Rene Bourque skated alongside his teammates for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on December 2nd. He practiced alongside Travis Moen and Brandon Prust.

“I’m playing tonight,” confirmed a smiling Bourque right after practice. “I’ll make sure to keep things simple and play solid in our zone.”

“We will start him on the fourth line and gauge his progress. Physically, he is ready to go, it’s just a matter of him getting used to the pace of the game, considering the fact that we haven’t had too much practice time recently due to our busy schedule,” added coach Michel Therrien.

Even if he only rejoined his teammates today after the injury layoff, Bourque has been keeping himself in shape for the past week with a daily dose of skating drills and gym exercises.

“I’ve been working with the staff here for about ten days, while the team was on the road. Physically, everything is ready to go,” confirmed Bourque

- George Parros was the only Montreal skater to be absent. He suffered a concussion on Saturday against the Islanders. After practice, Michel Therrien updated the media on Parros’ condition.

“He is working out on the stationary bike and feeling no concussion-related symptoms.

He is feeling really good,” stated Therrien. “Obviously there is a protocol to respect, and it’s not up to me to decide when he can come back. It’ll depend on the medical staff. There are concussions of different severities, but I’m not a doctor. The health of our players is our number one concern, and we are not about to rush him in any way.”

- Francis Bouillon and Ryan White both stayed after practice to work with coach Gerard Gallant, suggesting that they will sit out tonight.

- Carey Price will make his 28th start against Phoenix. He is 5-0-0 lifetime with a 1.78 goals against average and a 0.940 saves percentage against the Coyotes.

LINES AT PRACTICE

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

Markov-Subban
Gorges - Emelin
Murray-Diaz
Bouillon

- canadiens.com

SEE ALSO
Bourque back on the ice
Game preview: Canadiens vs. Coyotes
Taking time out 

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POSTED ON Saturday, 14.12.2013 / 12:58 PM

- On Saturday morning, the Canadiens held an optional skate at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY ahead of their tilt against the Islanders. Fourteen skaters took part in the on-ice session along with both goaltenders.

- Nassau Coliseum hasn’t been kind to the Islanders of late, neither have rinks outside of Long Island, for that matter. Jack Capuano’s club has just one win in its last 10 games, and currently sits 15th in the Eastern conference with 23 points, the third-lowest point total in the NHL. While it’s been nearly one month since the Islanders earned a win on home ice, the Habs know better than to take any opponent for granted, most notably after dropping their last two games and being outscored by an 8-1 margin during that span.

“We want to come out hard, get right to it, set the tone, set the tempo of the game. The last couple of games we haven’t done that, and it shows. We definitely have to get back to that,” offered Brandon Prust, who has three goals and six points in 22 games thus far this season. “I think the main thing is kind of getting our swagger back. When we were winning, where we were rolling, we had a little swagger to us, we had a little cockiness. We’ve got to get that back, so right of the hop just get back to our guns, get in on the forecheck and play a hard, physical game.”

- The Islanders might be struggling as a team, but they boast one of the most potent offensive weapons in the NHL in John Tavares, who currently ranks fifth in the league with 37 points on the year. With 13 goals to his credit on the season, the Habs understand the importance of doing their utmost to try to shut Tavares down.

“He’s a special player. He’s one of the best players in the NHL, and you always have to pay particular attention to a player like that when he’s on the ice,” underlined head coach Michel Therrien on the subject of Tavares, who has registered 13 points in 16 career games against the Canadiens. “We’ll have to watch him closely, play him tight, and take away as much time and space as possible. I’m sure that I’m not the only coach who says that because good players always find a way to perform.”

- Therrien hasn’t yet decided whether he will make any changes to his lineup for Saturday night’s game. That decision will come later on today.

- Carey Price will make his 27th start of the season on Saturday night for the Canadiens. He will go in search of his 15th win of the year. Evgeni Nabokov will be between the pipes for the Islanders. The Russian netminder holds a 7-3-0 record and a 2.86 goals-against average in 11 career games against the bleu-blanc-rouge. Nabokov will be making his first start since being sidelined back on November 16 with a groin injury.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

SEE ALSO
Words From The Room - December 14
Focus forward
One tough town

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POSTED ON Friday, 13.12.2013 / 12:44 PM

- On Friday afternoon, the Canadiens practiced at Islanders Iceworks in Syosset, NY ahead of their Saturday night tilt on Long Island.

- Following Thursday night’s loss against the Flyers, head coach Michel Therrien spent the early part of the on-ice session focusing on even-strength drills. He emphasized intensity and speed for the duration of the workout. The Habs bench boss also put his troops through odd-man rush drills as well at a rather brisk pace.

- Therrien confirmed that Carey Price will get the start in goal against the Islanders on Saturday night. Price holds a 6-2-0-3 record in 11 career games against the Isles, most recently besting Long Island 4-2 back on November 10.

Lines and D pairings at practice:

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

Subban – Markov
Murray – Diaz
Emelin – Gorges
Bouillon

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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 1:21 PM

- The Canadiens held an optional skate on Thursday morning ahead of their tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

- Ryan White and Brandon Prust were the lone skaters who did not take part in the on-ice session on Thursday morning.

- Max Pacioretty and Josh Gorges were back at practice after taking therapy days on Wednesday.

- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that George Parros and Douglas Murray will be in the lineup against Philadelphia. He did not, however, indicate who would be scratched to make room for both players. That decision will come following the pre-game warmup.

- Like the Canadiens, who are looking to erase any and all recollection of Tuesday night’s 6-0 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings at the Bell Centre, the Flyers have similar motivation after dropping a 7-2 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday in the Windy City.

Knowing full well that the Flyers, like his club, are out to prove something to themselves, Therrien isn’t taking the opposition lightly, even if Philadelphia has gone winless in their last three games, is a modest 4-5-1 in their last 10 and currently sits 13th in the Eastern conference.

“It was their last game on a long road trip [on Wednesday]. It’s tough to stay focused. When you look at the Flyers on paper, they’re a constant threat. They’ve got excellent players,” offered the Habs bench boss, referencing a Flyers squad that boasts offensive standouts Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds. “These are two teams that are looking to forget their last games, and that’s how we’re approaching the game.

“Everything’s good,” continued Therrien, on the subject of his team’s morale heading into the match-up in the City of Brotherly Love. “We’re doing a lot of good things. What happened last game, happens to every team. It’s about how you react and rebound. With the right attitude, I expect that we’ll do that the right way.”

- Daniel Briere spent six seasons in a Flyers uniform before joining the Canadiens this past summer. On Thursday night, the 36-year-old will skate in front of the Philadelphia faithful for the first time in bleu-blanc-rouge. Despite putting up good numbers in Flyers orange and black for just over half a decade, the Gatineau, QC native understands if his return is met with mixed emotions from his former fan base.

“I really don’t know what to expect as far as the crowd reaction goes. I remember a few years back, Mike Richards was one of the fan favorites here. When he came back for the first time, he got an ovation to start the game, but after that, he was booed every time he touched the puck. I understand that,” mentioned Briere, who has five goals and 10 points in 22 games thus far this season. “They’re supporting their teams. I still had some great times here, though.”

Fortunately, it won’t be the first time Briere will have gone up against his former teammates in 2013-14. Back on October 5, the Canadiens downed the Flyers 4-1 in Montreal. That, according to Briere, will make Thursday night’s experience somewhat easier to handle.

“For sure it’s special to be back in the rink where I spent a lot of time over the last few years. I’m happy that the first game is behind me because it’s always the toughest one,” confided Briere. “Playing that first game in your former rink is probably even harder.”

- Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens. The Anahim Lake, BC native owns an 8-8-0 record and a 2.71 goals-against average in 17 games against the Flyers over the course of his career. Steve Mason will be between the pipes for Philadelphia on Thursday night.

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

SEE ALSO
Words From The Room - Dec. 12
Game preview: MTL @ PHI 
On the rebound 

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