- The Canadiens skated at the First Niagra Center in Buffalo on Friday morning ahead of their tilt against the Sabres.
- Mike Condon will make his second start both of the season, and of his career, on Friday in Buffalo. In his previous start on October 11 in Ottawa, Condon stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced for a 0.952 save percentage, impressing his teammates along the way.
“Just watching him at practice and especially seeing him get that first game under his belt, we have all the confidence in the world in him,” dished defenseman Tom Gilbert. “He’s played great himself so far, so nothing changes in terms of how we’ll play in front of him tonight.”
- Aside from the change in goal, head coach Michel Therrien once again isn’t expected to make any other modifications to his lineup heading into Friday’s game.
“It’s a great accomplishment to get this far, and I hope I have 600 more in me. It’s a good feeling,” underlined the 32-year-old blue liner who has scored 43 goals and 173 assists for a total of 216 points over his first 599 games as an NHLer. “Coming in as a rookie, I was all over the place, but every year you pick up and learn new things. I think the experience has paid off because I’m a lot better today than I was then.”
Following the Sabres morning skate, Gionta had some kind words to share about his former teammate in his new role, and Pacioretty likewise returned the favor.
“I think I’m different now than when I played with Brian. I was in a much different position when he was on the team, and quite frankly I learned a lot from him,” admitted the 26-year-old winger, who played five seasons with Gionta in Montreal. “When he left, I think that’s when I started to incorporate his leadership qualities into my own game. I have nothing but great things to say about Brian and I’m honored to know he mentioned me this morning.”
- Despite finishing at opposite ends of the NHL standings in 2014-15, the Sabres still managed to win three of their four games against Montreal a season ago.
Now entering Friday’s contest with a 7-0-0 record to Buffalo’s current 2-4-0, the Habs will nevertheless have their work cut out for them if they intend to leave Western New York with their perfect record intact.
“They’re going to be a hardworking team tonight, that’s for sure,” predicted Pacioretty. “They’ve got a lot of skill -- especially new faces -- up front. Those are guys who will put the puck in the back of your net if you give them any free time or space on the ice. Obviously they have a lot to prove right now so their intensity level will be there, and we have to make sure we match it from the moment the puck drops.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on RDS and CityTV at the First Niagra Center in Buffalo.
- After taking part in off-ice workouts on Wednesday, the Canadiens were back on the ice on Thursday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard before departing for Buffalo where they’ll play the Sabres on Friday night.
- Prior to the start of practice, Michael Bournival skated with athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine as he continues to recover from concussion-like symptoms. Bournival sported a tinted visor during the on-ice session.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Mike Condon will get the start in goal against the Sabres on Friday night. It will mark his second start of the year. Condon was last between the pipes against the Ottawa Senators back on October 11, pacing the Canadiens to a 3-1 win at the Canadian Tire Centre. For his part, Carey Price will be back in goal on Saturday night when the Canadiens play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.
- Before practice officially got underway at 11 a.m., Jean-Jacques Daigneault and Craig Ramsay ran power play drills on the Bell Sports Complex’s secondary ice rink.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Semin – Galchenyuk – Eller
Weise – Desharnais - Fleischmann
Smith-Pelly – Mitchell – Flynn
Subban – Markov
Emelin – Petry
Gilbert - Beaulieu
Tinordi - Pateryn
- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday morning ahead of their tilt against the St. Louis Blues at the Bell Centre. The Habs will be looking to secure their seventh straight victory to start the year.
- Still dealing with concussion-like symptoms, Michael Bournival hit the ice prior to the start of the morning skate accompanied by athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine. Bournival is steadily making his way back to active duty, having skated a few times over the last couple of weeks. You’ll recall that Bournival missed training camp in September due to the injury.
- Head coach Michel Therrien did not meet the media following the morning skate. On Monday, however, the Canadiens’ bench boss confirmed that the Canadiens would not be featuring any lineup changes against the Blues. That means that forward Paul Byron, and defensemen Greg Pateryn and Jarred Tinordi, will once again be healthy scratches.
- Carey Price will be in goal for the Canadiens against St. Louis. The NHL’s First Star of the Week boasts a 3-3-2 record in eight career starts against Ken Hitchcock’s squad, in addition to a 2.68 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage. His counterpart on Tuesday night, Jake Allen, has a record of 0-2-0, a 4.51 goals-against average, and a .830 save percentage against the Canadiens.
- The Canadiens might be the league’s only undefeated team, but it’s safe to say the Blues are off to a hot start to the season, too. St. Louis has a 5-1-0 record on the year, and they’re currently on a four-game winning streak during which they’ve scored four goals each game. For his part, Blues star forward Vladimir Tarasenko was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week after registering three goals and six points in four games, in addition to amassing a plus-6 differential.
“If you give him space, he’s going to make plays. He’s got a great shot. We’ve seen a lot of guys like him. We know that we just have to deny him time and space,” explained Jeff Petry, referencing Tarasenko's remarkable skill set which has him tied with Henrik Zetterberg and David Krejci for the league lead in points. “St. Louis is a team that plays a very physical game. They’ve got big guys up front. We have to do good work when they send the puck deep. We have to make the play quickly and get our forwards going up ice as fast as possible. Tonight, we’re really going to have to use our speed.”
- On Tuesday night, Scott Gomez will be playing his second game in his former hockey home since the Canadiens bought out his contract back in 2012. This time around, the veteran of 1,047 NHL games, will be sporting a Blues jersey. He centered a line with Scottie Upshall and Dmitrij Jaskin at the morning skate. Even if Gomez will be suiting up for the opposition, Canadiens vets still have plenty of good things to say about the 35-year-old Anchorage, AK native.
“He’s a guy who had a big influence on me, not only as a centerman, but especially as a professional athlete. He taught me how to be a professional hockey player and how to act. He was a big inspiration for me and he helped me a lot,” explained Lars Eller, who was Gomez's teammate for two seasons in Montreal. “I think a lot of guys in this locker room can say the same thing. It’s always a little bit weird to play against him, especially since he was a teammate and we were close. I wish him all the best in his career, but that’s not a reason to take it easy on him tonight at all.”
- Tuesday night’s tilt will mark the 200th NHL game of Alex Galchenyuk’s career. The Milwaukee, WI native has one goal and five points through six games this season. He’s put up 43 goals and 109 points in his 199 previous outings with the CH dating back to the 2012-13 campaign.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. Please note that due to coverage of the MLB Playoffs, the start of the Canadiens game will be broadcast on RDS2 in French, while the rest of the game can be seen on RDS. English coverage is available on City TV Montreal.
Lines and D pairings at the morning skate:
Words From The Room - October 20
Game Preview: Blues @ Canadiens
Combination of factors
Carey Price named NHL’s first star of the week
- The Canadiens practiced at the Bell Centre on Monday ahead of their tilt against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night. Michel Therrien’s troops will be looking to remain undefeated this season after winning their first six games of the year.
- Monday’s practice took place at the Bell Centre because players participated in a team photo session prior to hitting the ice.
- Coaching consultant Craig Ramsay laced up his skates on Monday with the rest of the coaching staff as the Canadiens spent about 20 minutes working on special teams play.
- Following practice, Therrien confirmed that the Canadiens wouldn’t be featuring any lineup changes on Tuesday night. That means that forward Paul Byron and defensemen Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn will both be healthy scratches.
- Carey Price was also named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday. He went 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average, .963 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Canadiens to three wins, leading the team to its best start in franchise history.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- The Canadiens held a rare game day skate at the Bell Centre on Saturday morning in preparation for their tilt against the visiting Detroit Red Wings. The team practiced in downtown Montreal as part of Tim Hortons Coaching Day.
- Carey Price will make his fifth start of the season in goal on Saturday. The All-Star netminder holds a 7-3-1 record against Detroit all-time, with a 0.919 save percentage and 2.43 goals against average. Last season, Price went a perfect 3-0-0 against the Red Wings.
- Since taking part in the NHL season opener on October 7 in Toronto, head coach Michel Therrien has iced the same lineup up front every night, and will do so again on Saturday against the Wings.
“Chemistry and stability - it’s rare to see that so soon and for so long, but that’s been the case for us, and we’re being rewarded for it,” underlined Pacioretty, who should once again flank Tomas Plekanec opposite Brendan Gallagher on the first line. “Now it’s our job to keep it going.”
Indeed, with every player having now made a mark on the scoresheet except three after just two weeks of action, Therrien has little incentive to start mixing things up.
“We get a lot of momentum from shift to shift. We don’t have to worry about matchups, because we know that all our lines are firing, and anybody can go out there against any pairing,” continued the Habs captain, who leads the team with six points after five games. “We’re rolling four lines, we’re always in the game, and we’re never getting tired because of it. I think it’s been a big thing for us.”
Chemistry and stability meanwhile are all Tomas Fleischmann has gotten to know since joining the Canadiens this fall as a free agent, and the former Anaheim Duck has quickly gelled with his new company, scoring each of the Habs’ last two game-winners.
“We have a really good center. [David Desharnais] wins a lot of face offs and supports us everywhere on the ice. You’ve got to give him a lot of credit for our success,” added the 31-year-old Czech. “He’s a great skilled player, and very good defensively. I’ve enjoyed playing with him and [Dale Weise] here.”
- The Canadiens take on the Red Wings for the first time without Mike Babcock at the helm since 2005 on Saturday. Despite the offseason coaching change however, the Wings arrive in Montreal with an impressive 3-1-0 record.
“They’re a motivated team. It’s the first major change they’ve had in awhile so they’re playing motivated hockey. Coming in with a tough loss last night, they’re going to want to turn things back around tonight, but I’m expecting a lot of energy from our guys too because it’s Saturday night in Montreal,” acknowledged Pacioretty.
“I always like playing against Detroit, so I’m looking forward to tonight. I think they’ve been one of the top teams in the NHL for a long time, even before Babcock arrived,” stressed Fleischmann. “That’s still the case now because they have a lot of very good players. It’s going to be a good matchup for us.”
- The Habs worked on the power play once again on Saturday, looking to improve on the club’s 9.5% efficiency with the man advantage thus far.
“We need to continue generating shots and feeling confident shooting the puck. It’s hard to create chances for your teammates if you’re worried about your shot getting blocked. You want to have positive energy on the ice. Sometimes it’ll work and sometimes it won’t, but if guys want to block a shot -- let them, because we know that they’ll have to pay the price for it,” prescribed power play specialist P.K. Subban. “We’ve all been playing hockey for a long time, and we know how to have success on the power play -- get pucks on net, traffic in front of it, and create second and third chances. I think we’ve done a good job of that so far.”
Fortunately, the team can also count on experience behind the bench with the addition of Craig Ramsay to the coaching staff this season.
“He brings some experience and knowledge that you can’t really pick up unless you’ve been around for as long as he has,” acknowledged Subban. “He studies teams so he already gave us some great insight on the team we’re playing tonight,”
“He’s a guy with a lot of experience, and he understands the little things. It’s nice to have another voice in the room,” agreed Brendan Gallagher. “We don’t like that the power play isn’t doing it’s job, and we’re hungry to correct that.”
- Off to their hottest start in franchise history after going 5-0-0 to start the season, the Habs insist it’s nevertheless been business as usual both on the ice and behind closed doors.
“Things don’t feel any different on our side, but anyone playing us knows that we haven’t lost a game yet. We just hope that doesn’t change any time soon,” admitted Subban. “We had a good practice this morning and we’ll be well rested for the game because the majority of our guys didn’t skate on Friday. We play a very demanding style of hockey and we’ll need to outwork the Red Wings tonight.”
The Habs are one of just two undefeated teams remaining in the NHL, along with the 4-0-0 San Jose Sharks, illustrating just how impressive -- and tough -- the feat has been to accomplish thus far.
“We’ve been able to pick up some quick points here at the beginning, but that needs to continue,” concluded the star defenseman.
- After setting a new franchise mark with their fifth straight win to the start the season in a 3-0 victory over the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex on Friday morning.
- Prior to the start of practice, the Canadiens announced that veteran Tomas Plekanec had signed a two-year contract extension. The Czech centerman has four goals thus far this season.
- Plekanec was among nine players hitting the ice on the South Shore under the watchful eyes of assistant coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault and goaltending coach Stephane Waite. Also present were forwards Paul Byron, Alexander Semin, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Brian Flynn, along with defensemen Nathan Beaulieu, Greg Pateryn and Jarred Tinordi. Mike Condon was the lone goaltender to lace up his skates.
- Michel Therrien’s troops will be back in action on Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre. They’ll be looking to extend their current winning streak to six games.
- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning in preparation for their tilt against the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre.
- Thursday night’s home-opener will mark the first of three meetings between the two teams. Last season, Michel Therrien’s troops posted a 2-1-0 record against the Blueshirts.
- Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens, while Henrik Lundqvist will get the nod for New York. Price has been strong against the Rangers over the course of his career, posting a 10-5-1 record, a 1.86 goals-against average, and a .940 save percentage in 17 previous outings, along with six shutouts. For his part, Lundqvist is 14-13-2 in 30 career appearances against the Canadiens. He’s registered a 2.70 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage during that span.
- Following Thursday’s morning skate, the Canadiens were adamant that keeping their emotions in check early on will be an important key to victory against Alain Vigneault’s squad, especially on opening night.
“I think everybody’s excited, but we’ve got to find the right balance between being too excited and being ready to play. It’s a challenge for everybody. It’s hard to come home after four games on the road. We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves, but we’ve just got to stay humble,” explained Lars Eller, referencing the Canadiens’ perfect 4-0-0 record heading into their first game of the year on home ice. “We’re playing a very good team tonight. At the end of the day, it’s just another game once the puck drops.”
Eller is certainly right about the Rangers. They’ve started the season strong by winning their first three games before coming up short against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
“They’re a good team. I expect them to come out hard. They’re well-coached and they work hard. They play their system, and they’ve got guys who can put the puck in the net. We have to be prepared to play our best game of the season tonight. No question,” shared P.K. Subban, who has four assists and a plus-5 differential through four games this season. “When we played them a few years ago in the playoffs, they came into our arena and they took it to us even though there was plenty of emotion in the building. We don’t expect them to take a step back because it’s our home opener. We have to be ready to play 60 minutes, and maybe even more.”
- Should the Canadiens pick up another W on Thursday night, they’d become the first team in franchise history to start a regular season campaign with five straight victories. While it might be a significant accomplishment, it really is the furthest thing from the players’ minds right now.
“It shouldn’t change anything. I’d rather be 4-0 than 0-4. There would be more pressure the other way around,” mentioned Eller, who has two goals on the year. “I think we’re in the position we want to be in. It would be nice to keep rolling and have a perfect record, but I think we’ve really got to look at it as we move on from what has happened in the past. We’ve got to start building a good home record.”
The Canadiens’ bench boss wouldn’t have his players thinking any other way.
“This is exactly where you don’t want to go. Like we were saying on Wednesday, we have to stay humble. We have to take one game at the time,” stressed Therrien. “I don’t want to think too far ahead. I’m only focused on tonight.”
- Subban was among many Canadiens players tuning in to the deciding game of the Toronto Blue Jays – Texas Rangers series on Wednesday afternoon to cheer on his hometown team. Needless to say, the result – and Jose Bautista’s noteworthy bat flip – put a big smile on the Norris Trophy winning rearguard’s face.
“It’s just great for Canada, and it’s great for people from Toronto and Blue Jays fans. Just being someone from Toronto, it’s great to be able to support a hometown team. Obviously, we know the relationship between the Habs and Leafs, so I’m happy to be able to support at least one of my hometown teams,” offered Subban, whose beloved Blue Jays moved on to the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals after posting a 6-3 victory over Texas at the Rogers Centre. “For Jose Bautista, it was a pretty special moment. He’s put in his time as a Blue Jay, and it’s good to see him get rewarded for all of the hard work he’s put in trying to do the best that he can to help the team win. He’s a passionate guy. I loved [his bat flip]. It’s a special moment. I hope he does it again. I thought it even made it that much better.”
With that in mind, will No. 76 be trying to imitate Bautista after lighting the lamp in the near future? Not necessarily.
“I don’t know if I can do a stick flip out there,” cracked Subban. “Maybe after a one-timer, you might flip the stick. I don’t know. That’s not really my style. I’ll leave the flipping to Joey Bats for now.”
- Opening ceremonies at the Bell Centre will begin at 7:30 p.m. EST, while puck drop is scheduled for approximately 7:45 p.m. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet 360.
Probable lineup against the New York Rangers:
Coach Michel Therrien rewarded his club with an optional practice Wednesday afternoon after winning all four games on the team’s season opening road trip.
The optional practice was held at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, following Tuesday night’s 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Eight players were accounted for at practice this afternoon, including: Mike Condon, Devante Smith-Pelly, Brian Flynn, Paul Byron, David Desharnais, Greg Pateryn, Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi.
The Canadiens next game, the team’s home opener against the New York Rangers, is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
Following practice coach Michel Therrien confirmed that he will not be making any lineup changes ahead of Thursday night's home opener.
- After enjoying a day off on Monday, the Canadiens skated at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning ahead of their tilt against the Penguins.
- Carey Price will be back between the pipes on Tuesday night. He’s strung together a 10-10-3 record, a 2.93 goals-average and a .908 save percentage over the course of his career against the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury will get the nod for Pittsburgh. He boasts a 18-10-3 record, a 3.01 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage against Montreal.
- Following the morning skate, head coach Michel Therrien announced that he wouldn’t be making any changes to his lineup heading into Tuesday night’s game, with the exception of Carey Price tending goal. That means that newcomer Paul Byron will still have to wait to make his Canadiens debut.
- Even if the Canadiens’ power play has scored just once in 14 tries since October 7, Therrien is more concerned about wins than he is the man advantage. Nevertheless, with three wins and six points in the bank, the Canadiens spent a lot of time working on their power play during the morning skate.
“At this point in the year, we’re not necessarily looking to score a lot of goals. At 5-on-5, we’re capable of generating momentum and we certainly don’t want to lose momentum because of a power play. We haven’t been able to really practice it well because it requires repetition,” explained Therrien. “When something isn’t working, you have a tendency to go back to old habits. That’s what happened over the last two games and it wasn’t good. We took the time this morning to work on it so we don’t lose any momentum when we’re on the power play.”
- The Penguins have struggled to light the lamp early on this season, finding the back of the net just once in their first two games of the year while dropping contests in Dallas and Arizona. With the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel in their arsenal, though, defenseman Jeff Petry says paying any attention to the Penguins’ offensive struggles would be a serious mistake.
“You have to expect what they can bring to the table. I don’t think we should read too much into what happened in their first two games. We’ve got to focus on tonight,” stressed Petry, who has been the Canadiens’ third-most used rearguard through three games this year, averaging 22:08 of ice time per game. “I don’t think they’re going to be passive. I think they’re going to be putting pucks on net and getting bodies to the net. We have to do a good job at letting Price see the puck and boxing guys out so they don’t get their second chances. With those guys, you have to play them tight. They can make plays if they have the space. You’ve got to be in their face all night long.”
Like Petry, the Canadiens’ bench boss fully understands the tough task that awaits his group, especially with it being the Penguins’ first game of the year on home ice.
“It’s a big challenge. They have three scorers with the type of talent to score 50 goals. I’m not going to lie about it; the Penguins have a good offensive team,” admitted Therrien. “Even if they haven’t won their first two road games, I expect them to be fired up tonight.”
- Dale Weise will be playing his 100th career game with the Canadiens on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. The Winnipeg native, who was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in February 2014, is amazed at just how fast time has flown by since joining the CH.
“One hundred games with this team is pretty special, especially with it being my favorite team growing up. It’s been cool. I can’t believe it’s been that quick. I’m pretty excited about it,” offered Weise, who has put up 13 goals and 33 points in his 99 previous regular season outings with the bleu-blanc-rouge, but is still looking for his first point of the 2015-16 campaign. “Coming here, it was the first opportunity I had in the NHL to play more than five minutes a night. I’ve certainly enjoyed it. We’ve got a great group of guys here. We’ve got a great team. Going forward, I expect special things from our team.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and City TV.
Probable lineup against the Penguins:
- Only a few extra players hit the ice at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Sunday morning as head coach Michel Therrien gave his troops the opportunity to rest following Saturday night's 4-2 win in Boston.
- Prior to Sunday night's tilt, Therrien will meet the media at 4:45 p.m. EST.