BOSTON – The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the TD Garden ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Bruins.
Davis Drewiske, who is on the mend from a shoulder injury suffered in training camp, made the trip with the team and skated on Thursday morning.
Andrei Markov, who missed practice on Wednesday, was back on the ice with the team and will play against the Bruins.
The Habs will take on the Bruins for the second time this season, having won the previous meeting 2-1 at the Bell Centre on December 5 2013. This time, Peter Budaj will be in net, he who is 3-1-0 in five appearances against Boston in the course of his career. It will be his first start since January 8 in Philadelphia.
“It’s part of the plan that we’ve created with [goalie coach] Stephane Waite,” explained coach Michel Therrien regarding the decision to start Budaj over Carey Price, who posted a 36-save shutout in the team’s previous game, against Carolina. “We are coming up toward a stretch of four games in six days and it’s very important for us to manage Carey’s energy level so that he can be at his best when he plays.”
Other than the identity of the starting goaltender, Therrien confirmed that he will be going with the same line-up which brought his team the win on Tuesday against the Hurricanes.
Despite Boston scoring six goals in its three previous games, Brendan Gallagher believes in his team’s chances against on Thursday night.
“They come at your with all four lines and have been playing good hockey in front of their fans recently, but we’re going to show up and focus on what we need to do to win this game, things we do that make us successful” the right-winger offered. “We’ll need everyone to work together and play as a five-man unit.”
While Gallagher knows that the home team will throw everything they’ve got at him come game time, he relishes the opportunity to ply his craft in one of the toughest buildings of the NHL.
“I like this building and its atmosphere. Every game we play against the Bruins is emotional, it’s competitive; it’s a lot of fun,” revealed the second-year Hab.
One player intimately familiar with the intensity of the Montreal-Boston rivalry is defenseman P.K. Subban, the recipient of cheers and boos in equal measure when playing at the Bell Centre and the TD Garden respectively.
“I think we’ve done a great job of sticking together in the rough times this year,” acknowledged the reigning Norris Trophy winner, who has seen his team snap a four-game losing streak with a 3-0 win in its previous outing. “We’re just focusing on every game, taking it one step at a time and realizing that not everything will go the way we want all the time. I think we’ve responded well to adversity so far.”
For Subban, fighting for a win against the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins means having to play a controlled, disciplined game in all three zones.
“Last game, we played a good team game. The win was the icing on the cake, but mostly we played the right way and supported each other in all three zones. We were good on the breakout, our gap was tight in the neutral zone and we made sure to keep the pressure on. We did a lot of great things [against Carolina on Tuesday],” stated Subban.
- The Canadiens skated in Brossard on Wednesday morning ahead of their afternoon departure for Boston where they’ll take on the Bruins on Thursday night.
- Defenseman Davis Drewiske skated alongside his teammates for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in mid-October. He was sporting a “no contact” jersey and will accompany the team to Boston.
- Andrei Markov did not take part in the practice session on Wednesday morning. He was given a therapy day.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Louis Leblanc has been reassigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs this afternoon. In three games with the Canadiens, the centerman obtained two shots on net while averaging over six minutes of icetime per game.
Forward Louis Leblanc was back on the ice after missing Monday’s practice due to the flu. After practice, the team announced that Leblanc would be returning to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Brandon Prust was the only player not to skate on Tuesday morning. He opted for a therapy session and will play against the Hurricanes.
Nathan Beaulieu, who practiced alongside Douglas Murray, is looking forward to making an even bigger mark on his team since being called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs ten days ago.
“I feel good. This has been my best stint with the Canadiens so far, and the big thing is to keep plugging away and keep getting better with every game. It’s a big game for us tonight. We want to get back to the type of good, sound hockey we’ve been playing for the past year and a half,” commented the Habs’ 2012 first-round pick, who has experienced his share of ups and downs in his two seasons as pro. “Last year was a tough year for the Bulldogs, so I’ve been both how much fun it is to win and how much it stinks to lose. It’s a learning experience. I want to be here and help the club through the tough times. I’ve been on some good teams in juniors, but losing streaks happen with any team. The biggest thing is to stick together.”
Having coached the offensive-minded blueliner on several occasions in the past two years, Michel Therrien believes his charge is definitely headed in the right direction in his most recent NHL stint.
“We know that Nathan’s got the skills to play in the NHL. He can skate and move the puck. The key is consistency. He has to prove to himself that he can play well game after game. So far, we’ve been pleased with what Nathan has accomplished,” Therrien offered.
The Habs’ coach also had encouraging things to say about another one of his young guns.
“Michael Bournival’s work ethic has not changed since the first game of the season. He’s a guy who competes hard and has an exemplary work ethic. Even if he is a rookie, he has been a leader in his way, by blocking shots and using his speed to create chances on the ice,” revealed Therrien about the 21 year-old’s contributions. Having firmly established himself as a team-first player in the first 50 games of his NHL career, Bournival is focused on helping his team reverse its recent skid.
“Playing sixty minutes of disciplined hockey is the key to success. Lately we haven’t been doing that so we’ll try to get back to that,” vowed the Shawinigan, QC native. “I think every team at every level goes through times where it’s hard to win a game. It’s up to us to work hard and make sure it turns around.”
Before wrapping up his game day press conference, Michel Therrien gave his impression on Tuesday night’s opponents.
“The Hurricanes is a team which works extremely hard. They have two good lines, centered by the Staal brothers. This give two powerful combinations which put a lot of pressure on their opponents,” emphasized Therrien. “Preparation is really important, and I felt that we had a good practice yesterday and a good skate this morning as well, which will help us be at our best tonight. The NHL is a league with a lot of parity among its teams. Every team has something to prove on a given night, and being well prepared is going to give us the best chance to succeed.”
Carey Price will start for the Canadiens. His counterpart on the Hurricanes will be Justin Peters.
Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Hurricanes
Notebook - Jan. 27, 2014
Forward Alex Galchenyuk skated alone before practice and is on schedule in his recovery from a hand injury suffered three weeks ago.
Forward Louis Leblanc, who has the flu, did not skate on Monday.
There was plenty of intensity at practice, especially during a gruelling one-on-one rush drill and a three-on-two offensive zone exercise pitting a forward line against a defense pairing.
Carey Price will start against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
LINES AT PRACTICE
The Canadiens held an optional practice on Friday with 16 players taking part. Carey Price, Daniel Briere, David Desharnais, Brian GIonta, Travis Moen, Max Pacioretty, and Brandon Prust were not on the ice for the skate.
“It’s not because we’re not satisfied with Frankie,” explained the Habs bench boss of his decision to sit the 38-year-old blue-liner. “We’ve got eight defensemen and Frankie has given us some good hockey; he’s a veteran and a warrior. But we wanted to give Emelin a chance to get back in the lineup to give him a fair chance to show what he’s capable of doing tonight.”
The game will mark the Canadiens’ first visit to Joe Louis Arena since December 10, 2010, and it will also be the first matchup between the two clubs since the Red Wings were at the Bell Centre in January 2012. Friday’s game is the first of four meetings on tap between the two Original 6 clubs this season, and the first time they will face each other as divisional rivals.
“When we left Montreal for four games, we knew three of them were division games,” mentioned Therrien of his clubs recent road swing. “We won in Ottawa, I thought in Toronto we deserved a better fate because I really liked the way we played there until a few breakdowns cost us the game, and if we can win tonight’s game, we end up winning two out of three division games. Those are important games.”
While the Red Wings will be missing some firepower up front with Pavel Datsyuk out with a groin injury, they will be able to count on the services of Daniel Alfredsson, who will return to the lineup after missing the past five games with a back injury. Team USA netminder Jimmy Howard was injured earlier in the week and will not play against the Canadiens, but the Habs shouldn’t expect an easy night with Jonas Gustavsson between the pipes. The Swedish puckstopper has a 12-3-2 record so far in 2013-14.
“They’re a team that has their own unique style. I have a lot of respect for them; that’s a team that made the playoffs for 22 consecutive seasons and that’s not easy to do,” explained Therrien, who was at the helm of the Penguins squad that lost to Detroit in the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals. “That shows what a great job their management and coaching staff is doing over there. It’s an accomplishment to make the playoffs the way the league is now and they’ve managed to consistently earn their spot. They’re strong on the puck and they’re a fast team. The game tonight will be an important one for us and it won’t be an easy one.”
Price will look to build to his 2-2-1 career record against the Wings, getting a chance to impress Team Canada coach Mike Babcock in person for the first time this season and the only time before the two join forces in Sochi.
Game preview: MTL @ DET
Words from the room
The Canadiens practiced at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday afternoon in preparation for Friday’s game against the Red Wings. All players took part in the skate.
|Mac Bennett and the University of Michigan Wolverines will face the Michigan State Spartans at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night.
Before the Canadiens hit the ice on Friday night, Habs prospect and Wolverines captain Mac Bennett will have a chance to test out the ice at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday, taking part in a NCAA matchup between the University of Michigan and Michigan State. The 22-year-old blue-liner currently has six points in 18 games in his senior year in Ann Arbor.
After sitting out Wednesday’s game as a healthy scratch, Alexei Emelin will return to the lineup to face the Red Wings on Friday. He was paired with Andrei Markov on the blue line during Thursday’s practice in Detroit.
Michel Therrien confirmed Carey Price will get his 41st start of the season on Friday. Price has a 2-2-1 career record against the Wings, sporting a .925 save percentage and a 2.36 goals-against average in that span.
Lines and D pairings at practicePacioretty-Desharnais-Gallagher
The Canadiens skated at the Consol Energy Center on Wednesday morning ahead of their game against the Penguins.
David Desharnais did not take part in practice on Wednesday, sitting out with flu-like symptoms. Michel Therrien confirmed the 27-year-old center will be in the lineup against Pittsburgh.
Louis Leblanc will be in the lineup on Wednesday after being called up from Hamilton on Monday evening. He has one goal in his only career game against Pittsburgh. Prior to joining the big club, Leblanc was second in Bulldogs scoring with nine goals and 20 points in 36 games to go with a plus-2 differential.
“It’s still just a game, but playing against the Penguins is special. They have some great players over there. I’m excited,” shared Leblanc, who will skate on a line with Travis Moen and former Bulldogs teammate Michael Bournival. “The coach hasn’t given me any special directions or anything, but I’ll just go out there and do whatever they ask of me. I’ve improved my game both offensively and defensively in Hamilton and I’ve been given more and more responsibility on the ice. The coaches are happy with my game. I’ve earned a chance to be here tonight and it will be another test for me.”
Wednesday’s game will be the second between the two teams this season. The first time the Habs and Pens met this year, on Nov. 23, the Canadiens came away with a 3-2 win thanks in part to a pair of goals by Max Pacioretty. Despite having already earned his spot on Team USA’s roster, the 25-year-old sniper isn’t planning on taking his foot off the gas when he faces his future Olympic coach’s squad on Wednesday.
“When I talked to [Team USA and Penguins head coach Dan] Bylsma he mentioned that maybe guys can take it easy on Pittsburgh now that we’re not auditioning for the team,” joked Pacioretty, who currently leads the Canadiens with 21 goals. “I always want to make a good impression with everyone but it’s obviously a little bit more special knowing he’s going to coach me in a couple of weeks. You want to think team-first and come out with a win, but if I can contribute on the scoresheet it’s icing on the cake.”
After putting on a defensive clinic against the Penguins in his first outing, helping hold Sidney Crosby off the scoresheet while chipping in with a goal of his own, Tomas Plekanec will once again be tasked with stifling the league’s leading scorer, but his coach knows it won’t be quite as easy to have the Selke-worthy center matched up against the perennial Hart Trophy winner on every shift.
“First off, we don’t have last change tonight so it’s a bit of a tougher position to be in,” explained Therrien, who spent four seasons behind the Penguins bench and coached both Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in their first few NHL seasons. “Our players will be ready to face them and it’s important to work as a five-man unit. It’s not about just one player. It’s a big challenge when you talk about Crosby and Malkin; those are two really dangerous lines. There are five players on the ice so it will be important for everyone to play responsibly and make sure we’re making good decisions with the puck because they have players who can create a lot of offense off of turnovers.”
Carey Price will make his 40th start of the campaign, looking to build on his 9-8-2 all-time record against the Penguins. At the other end of the ice, Marc-Andre Fleury will start for Pittsburgh between the pipes. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Words from the room
Forward Louis Leblanc, recalled from Hamilton on Monday, was on the ice. He practiced on a line with Travis Moen and former Bulldogs teammate Michael Bournival.
Alex Galchenyuk, on the mend after suffered a broken hand three weeks ago, skated in company of the team’s strength coach on the other ice surface.
Rookie Nathan Beaulieu skated on a pairing with veteran Josh Gorges.
Coach Michel Therrien confirmed after practice that both Leblanc and Bournival will play against the Penguins on Tuesday. Carey Price will be in net.
LINES AT PRACTICE
On Monday afternoon, the Canadiens recalled forward Louis Leblanc from the Hamilton Bulldogs. He will be at practice on Tuesday morning in Brossard.
Leblanc took part in five games with the Canadiens earlier this season, registering a plus-2 differential and amassing two penalty minutes. In 36 games with the Bulldogs thus far this year, the 22-year-old centerman has scored nine goals and posted 20 points in addition to amassing a plus-2 differential.