- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday morning ahead of contesting Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre.
- All players were present and accounted for at the optional skate, expect for P.K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec. The Czech pivot, however, took to the ice prior to the formal on-ice session to break in a new pair of skates.
- For a third consecutive day, Max Pacioretty skated alongside his teammates. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed, however, that Pacioretty would not suit up on Wednesday night as he continues to recover from an upper-body injury. Pacioretty remained on the ice once the optional skate came to an end, as did Manny Malhotra, and defensemen Sergei Gonchar, Mike Weaver and Greg Pateryn.
“There’s a chance we’ll see Max out there on Friday. We’ll have him back in the lineup when he’s 100 percent healthy. There was a chance he’d play tonight, but it’s just not the case,” offered Therrien, referencing the health status of the Canadiens’ No. 67. “Now, it could be Friday or it might be Sunday. When we get the green light from the medical staff, we’ll be very happy to have him back in the lineup.”
- Despite his young age, Brendan Gallagher is already a veteran when it comes to playoff hockey. He’s taken part in 22 playoff games since joining the NHL ranks in 2012-13. Gallagher participated in the opening-round series against the Senators two years ago when Ottawa sent the Canadiens packing in five games. He even scored a goal in each of the first two games of the series. Having played three other playoff series since then, the 22-year-old knows that each matchup really does take on a life of its own.
“It’s tough to say what you have to do to win the series. Every series develops its own identity. It will be important for us to take things one game at a time. It starts tonight,” mentioned Gallagher. “We have to get off to a good start. We know how well they’ve been playing lately. It will be important for us to establish ourselves in Game 1 and use the crowd to our advantage. ”
And, Gallagher knows full well that in order to make his presence felt against Dave Cameron’s contingent, he’ll have to do what he does best – make the opposing goaltender’s life miserable.
“You have to give him credit. He’s been playing excellent hockey lately. What makes him good is his compete level,” offered Gallagher, who went up against Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond twice during the regular season. “But, there’s always a way to beat any goaltender. You can’t stop the puck if you can’t see it. We have to create traffic in front of him. We’ve played him a couple of times and we know what we have to do. We’ll have to give him a tough time tonight.”
- At just 19 years of age, Jacob De La Rose will make his NHL playoff debut with the Canadiens on Wednesday night. Therrien spent some quality time with a few of his troops prior to the morning skate to get a better sense of how they were feeling leading up to Game 1. De La Rose was among those players the Canadiens’ bench boss visited with ahead of the series-opener.
“This morning, I sat down with Jacob De La Rose. He’s just 19 years old. This is his first experience in the playoffs. I wanted to see how he was feeling. He’s very excited. He’s also a little bit nervous. That goes without saying. But, he’s excited,” mentioned Therrien, who will be behind the bench for his 60th career playoff game on Wednesday night. “His parents will be here. It will be emotional for him. When it comes to advice, I told him to just be himself. He’s played big games in the past. It won’t be any different tonight. He has to embrace this challenge. I’ll give him all the support I can because I like the way he plays. I like his speed. Things will be a little bit faster tonight, but speed is an asset in his case. He’ll be ready.”
- While the Canadiens will have a few players making their postseason debuts in 2014-15, local boy Torrey Mitchell is set to embark on the seventh playoff run of his career. The Greenfield Park native brings 60 games of NHL playoff experience to the lineup with the San Jose Sharks and the Minnesota Wild. This time around, however, Mitchell will battle for the Stanley Cup donning the colors of his hometown team. That will surely make this playoff experience particularly special.
“I’m very excited. There’s a lot of emotion involved. That’s for sure,” offered Mitchell, who has registered three goals and 12 points in postseason play. “I’ve got some playoff experience already, but tonight for Game 1 I know I’ll be like a little kid out there. I’m just so excited. I hope my experience can help.”
Mitchell, who will have plenty of family and friends in attendance on Wednesday night, says past playoff experience has taught him that feeling somewhat nervous this time of year isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it’s a good indicator that you’re simply living in the moment.
“I think butterflies are a good thing. Everyone is excited to get started. Both teams are going to have butterflies. Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup,” explained Mitchell, who played 14 regular season games with the Canadiens after being acquired at the trade deadline from Buffalo in early March. “We just have to control our emotions and play with discipline.”
- The 2015 Fan Jam gets underway at 4 p.m. EST in an open-air lot on the corner of Peel and St. Jacques in downtown Montreal. The location will be the home of the Fan Jam for the duration of the team’s postseason run.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on TVA and CBC.
Game Preview: Senators @ Canadiens – Game 1
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #1
Round 1 playoff superstitions
- For a second consecutive day, the Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard in preparation for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Ottawa Senators. The two teams will do battle on Wednesday night at the Bell Centre.
- Max Pacioretty practiced alongside his teammates, but did not take part in regular line drills. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Pacioretty has been cleared for contact. Team doctors, however, haven’t yet indicated when the New Canaan, CT native will return to the lineup.
- Defenseman Tom Gilbert confirmed that he is ready to return to active duty. Gilbert missed the last two games of the regular season with an upper-body injury.
- The Canadiens announced that the team will spend time in Mont Tremblant between Games 3 and 4 instead of remaining in Ottawa. Therrien indicated that the team will use the time for team bonding during the current playoff run.
Lines and defensive pairings at practice:
De La Rose-Eller-Weise
- The Canadiens began preparing for the 2015 NHL Playoffs on Monday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. Their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Ottawa Senators will get underway on Wednesday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
- All players were present and accounted for at practice, including Max Pacioretty. The New Canaan, CT native took part in a full practice alongside his teammates for the first time in over a week. Pacioretty skated with David Desharnais and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau during power play drills. The Canadiens focused primarily on special teams during Monday’s on-ice session.
- Following practice, Pacioretty confirmed that he hasn’t yet been cleared for contact by team doctors. He remains hopeful, however, to return to active duty as soon as possible, carefully following a recovery plan that has been in place since going down in the game against Florida on April 5. Pacioretty referred to the injury as an “upper-body injury”, but did not expand further. He also confirmed that he has been sporting a tinted visor as of late simply to try a new look.
Power play lines at practice:
Pacioretty-Desharnais-Parenteau // Markov-Subban
Galchenyuk-Plekanec-Gallagher // Gilbert-Petry
- Carey Price will share the Jennings Trophy with Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. Montreal and Chicago each allowed 189 goals against, the lowest in the NHL this season. Price and Crawford were the only netminders on their respective teams to have played the minimum 25 games required to be eligible for the award.
- Carey Price finished first in the NHL in three major statistical categories among goaltenders, including wins (44), goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.933). He also finished second in the league with nine shutouts, one less than Marc-Andre Fleury’s 10 whitewashes on the season.
- Max Pacioretty tied Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov for the league lead with a stellar plus-38 plus/minus differential, becoming the first Habs player since Guy Lafleur in 1977-78 to finish atop the NHL in that category.
TORONTO – It’s been over two weeks since the Canadiens clinched a berth in the 2015 postseason, but there’s still plenty on the line in Game 82 in Toronto.
- If the Habs win on Saturday, it will mark the first time the team has registered 50 or more victories since a 53-win campaign in 1988-89.
- Heading into Saturday’s game, the Habs are guaranteed to have home ice advantage for the opening round of the playoffs, but with at least one point in Toronto, they can also clinch first place in the Atlantic division. A Lightning loss in regulation or overtime would also give the Habs the division title, which would shore up home ice for Montreal for at least two rounds of playoff hockey. All 30 teams are in action on Saturday night, including four games with playoff implications for the Habs, but the only game the Canadiens are focusing on is the one taking place in Toronto.
|Final morning skate|
“We expect Tampa to take care of their business and we have to do the same on our end. You can look at it both ways. It definitely is important. We know it’s tough for teams to come into the Bell Centre. it could be huge, but that said, I've been in the league for three years and I’ve been in four playoff series. The two where we had home ice, we lost, and the two where we didn’t, we won. We don’t worry too much about it. We want to be playing our best hockey. By this time of year, everything should be reactionary. It will be a good test for us tonight.”
- Carey Price will get the start against Toronto and will look to sweep the Leafs with a fourth win in as many games against the division rivals in 2014-15. Head coach Michel Therrien explained the reasoning behind calling on the All-Star netminder for a 66th time this season.
“We gave some guys a chance to rest in the second half of the back-to-back in Jersey. For a guy like Carey, this is only his third game in nine days, I believe,” explained Therrien. “He’s going to have four days to get prepared before we start the first game of the playoffs. We were able to keep the energy level of the players up because the schedule gave us that opportunity.”
- Devante Smith-Pelly will be suiting up in his hometown as a Hab for a first time since being traded to Montreal in February and the fifth time in his career on Saturday night. The Scarborough native has been playing his best hockey since arriving in Montreal over the last few games and is hoping to continue that trend in front of his parents and a slew of friends at the ACC.
“I played here earlier this year with the Ducks, but it will be a whole other level with the Canadiens. I’m really excited for tonight, especially now that they aren’t all cheering for the Leafs,” joked Smith-Pelly, who played 15:23 on Thursday against Detroit, his second-highest ice time since becoming a Hab. “This is the most fun time of the year. As much as we’re all excited for the playoffs to start, we also need to focus on tonight because this one will be important.”
- Max Pacioretty didn’t make the trip to Toronto, but the Habs sniper skated with trainers in Brossard on Saturday morning for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on April 5 in Florida.
“He’s responding well to treatment and that’s great news,” shared Therrien on his leading scorer, who had 37 goals and 30 assists in 80 games before seeing his regular season come to a close in the first period against the Panthers. “That doesn’t change what we said earlier, though; he’ll be re-evaluated by doctors early next week. When we have news, we’ll share it, but it’s too early to know.”
- About to suit up for his 82nd game of the season, David Desharnais is one of just five Habs players who have played every one of the teams games in 2014-15 to date – a feat the 27-year-old forward has yet to accomplish in his six years in the NHL.
“It’s something I haven’t done since I’ve been here and it’s a little goal you set for yourself at the start of the season,” admitted Desharnais, who played 81 games in 2011-12 and 79 in 2013-14. “It’s fun to be able to play all 82 this year. The game is fast and there are a lot of injuries, so to be able to play all 82 games shows you’re able to grind it out for the entire season.”
- There will be no lineup changes from Thursday's game against Detroit. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre, and will be broadcast on TVA Sports, CBC, 98.5 FM and TSN 690.
- After securing a 4-3 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday morning before boarding the team charter to Toronto. Michel Therrien’s troops will close out the regular season against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre.
- In his post-practice press conference, Therrien confirmed that Carey Price will get the start against Toronto. He also confirmed that Tom Gilbert is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. While Gilbert will accompany the team to Toronto, Max Pacioretty will not.
- Price will be making his 66th and final start of the regular season. The Anahim Lake, BC native has started all three games against the Maple Leafs in 2014-15, registering three victories and giving up just four goals on 86 shots. He boasts a 16-13-1 career record in 29 previous starts against Toronto.
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of their game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre. Detroit sits third in the Atlantic Division with 97 points, nine points back of the Habs.
- Michel Therrien’s troops will be going for a regular season sweep of the Red Wings on Thursday night, having outscored Detroit by an 8-2 margin in their three previous meetings during the 2014-15 campaign. Should the Canadiens secure their 49th win of the year, it would mark the team’s first four-game sweep of the Michigan-based franchise since 1926-27 when they won all four contests against the Detroit Cougars.
“We’ve played some good hockey against them. I know they have some very skilled players over there. They’ve got a good power play. Sometimes, when you’re playing teams like that, you kind of get yourself going a little more and you’re maybe a little bit more focused,” offered Brandon Prust, who has one goal and two points in 10 career games against the Red Wings. “It seems like we’ve been like that against Detroit this year. We’ve got to continue to do that.”
That’s for sure. A victory tonight (or a regulation loss by Ottawa to the New York Rangers) will help the Red Wings clinch a playoff berth for the 24th consecutive season, which would match the fourth-longest streak in NHL history. It’s safe to say Mike Babcock’s contingent will be fired up to try to secure another postseason berth on their own.
“We need to take into account that we could go up against them in the playoffs,” stressed Prust, who leads all players on both teams with 132 penalty minutes on the year. “But, we especially need to focus on our game and not make any mistakes.”
- Unfortunately, the Canadiens won’t have Max Pacioretty in the lineup for the last two regular season games of the year after the New Canaan, CT native suffered an upper-body injury on Sunday. It will be the first time that Pacioretty isn’t in the lineup since November 1, 2013 – a span of 149 straight games. It also would’ve been the 400th game of his NHL career.
“He’s arguably our best player, so it’s always tough when you lose someone like that both offensively and defensively. He’s a big leader in the dressing room, too,” offered Prust. “But, we’ve got a good group in here. We’ve got a confident group. We have guys that are ready to fill in and do some penalty killing. We know we have guys that can put pucks in the net as well. Injuries happen and everybody has got to step up.”
In Pacioretty’s absence, Brian Flynn draws back in up front. He’s been a healthy scratch for the last three games. It will be his eighth game with the CH since coming on board at the trade deadline back in early March. That is the only expected lineup change.
“We’re pretty motivated. It’s been like playoff hockey the past stretch here, trying to get as many points as we can to make sure we finish ahead of the Lightning,” offered Flynn, whose squad sits atop the Atlantic Division entering Thursday night’s tilt, two points clear of Tampa Bay. “Every game has been big so far.”
- The Canadiens’ penultimate game of the regular season is also significant for several other reasons.
First and foremost, Thursday night’s tilt is another opportunity to play a sound game at both ends of the rink and fine tune any areas of concern heading into the opening round of the playoffs next week.
“It’s going to be a fun one. Last two games of the season, we’re really stressing how you want to end at the top of your game. We’ve got a good challenge tonight. They could be a contender in the playoffs for us. You always want to end on a peak,” explained Nathan Beaulieu, who will be playing his 63rd game of the season on the Canadiens’ back end. “We feel like we need to build a couple of things the next few games to end on a high. You want to hit the ground running when playoffs come. We feel like we can do a lot of damage in the playoffs, so we want to feel like we can prove a point the last two games.”
And, you know that helping Carey Price set a new team record for most wins in a single season is also on their collective minds, too.
“Everyone wants to help Pricer. He’s been great all year and since I’ve been here. The guys respect him a lot and what he’s done for the team this year and in the past,” mentioned Flynn, referencing Price’s bid to secure his 43rd win of the year. “Hopefully, we can get a W for him tonight.”
- Jimmy Howard will get the start in goal for the Red Wings. He will be looking for his third straight victory.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
Words From The Room - April 9
Game Preview: Red Wings @ Canadiens
Taking his rightful place
- The Canadiens returned to practice on Wednesday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard in preparation for Thursday night’s tilt against the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Max Pacioretty met with team doctors on Wednesday morning. He will not play against Detroit on Thursday night or in the regular season finale on Saturday night in Toronto. Pacioretty’s condition will be re-evaluted next week. Therrien did not rule out Pacioretty returning to the lineup as soon as next week, too.
- Members of the media covering the Montreal Canadiens voted forward Dale Weise as the 2014-15 recipient of the Jacques Beauchamp-Molson Trophy. The trophy is awarded annually to the member of the Canadiens who played a dominant role during the regular season without earning any particular honor. Weise earned 128 points in the overall standings ahead of forwards Brandon Prust (63 points) and Brendan Gallagher (47 points).
Lines and D pairings at practice:
De La Rose-Eller-Weise
- After a long Easter weekend in Florida, the Canadiens flew back to Montreal on Tuesday following Sunday's convincing 4-1 win against the Panthers.
- Before leaving Fort Lauderdale, Michel Therrien addressed the media in the team's hotel lobby. When asked about Max Pacioretty, Therrien confirmed that an update will be available after the 26-year-old forward sees his doctor in Montreal, but that he would not be in uniform for Thursday's game against the Red Wings. Pacioretty was forced out of Sunday's game against the Panthers early after crashing hard into the boards.
- Although a practice was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Therrien preferred to give his troops the day off before heading home.
"Our schedule allowed us to give the guys some time off. They've all worked hard this season, so we took this opportunity to give them a rest," underlined the Habs bench boss, who will resume practice as scheduled on Wednesday in Brossard. "We did the same thing a year ago. It's important to be recharged and feeling good for the playoffs. We have two games and three practices left before the postseason, so we still have time left to finetune and prepare."
- Therrien confirmed that Carey Price will be back in goal on Thursday for the Habs' penultimate game of the regular season against the Red Wings.
"We're going to take things one game at a time. Carey will play on Thursday, and then we'll make a decision," concluded the Habs coach regarding this week's two remaining games against Detroit and Toronto, respectively.
- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday ahead of their tilt against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre.
- After missing the last four games with a fractured jaw, defenseman Tom Gilbert returns to the Canadiens’ lineup on Thursday night. The veteran rearguard suffered the injury back on March 21 against the San Jose Sharks. To make room for Gilbert, Greg Pateryn will be a healthy scratch on defense.
“I’m happy to be back in. It’s tough to be on the sidelines, but at the same time it lets you see the game from another angle, take a few notes and apply them to your game,” offered Smith-Pelly, who will likely be featured on a line with Torrey Mitchell and Jacob De La Rose on Thursday night.
“They’re a very physical group. I played against them a few times this season,” added Smith-Pelly, who has dished out 50 hits in 15 games since joining the Canadiens. “They have talent and power. We’ll have to play a physical game and cause traffic. We could potentially play them in the playoffs. It will be just like a playoff game.”
- Head coach Michel Therrien will go in search of his 200th career win behind the Canadiens’ bench on Thursday night.
- Carey Price will make his 63rd start of the season. Price still leads the NHL in wins, save percentage, goals-against average and shutouts. One of his nine shutouts during the 2014-15 campaign came against Washington. That happened back on January 31 when Price stopped 36 shots in a 1-0 overtime win.
- In two games against the Capitals this season, the Canadiens have managed to neutralize the League’s sixth best offense. Barry Trotz’s contingent has managed to light the lamp just once this year against the CH. Back on October 9, Michel Therrien’s troops posted a 1-0 win in Washington before blanking the Capitals in late January on home ice. Despite registering 12 shots on goal during those contests, Alex Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet entirely.
- While keeping Ovechkin at bay will be a primary focus for Canadiens defensemen on Thursday night, Michel Therrien’s rearguards are perfectly aware that the Capitals boast several other offensive threats, too. With 55 assists and 73 points on the year, Nicklas Backstrom is certainly one of them. That being said, focusing solely on slowing down Ovechkin isn’t necessarily the ultimate recipe for success against Washington.
“Obivously, Ovi is a really special player to have scored 50 goals as many times as he has. But, you have to look at the supporting cast. Backstrom is probably one of the best passers in the game now, if not the best,” offered Nathan Beaulieu, who will play his 60th game of the season on Thursday night. “It’s tough. You want to pay as much attention to Ovi as you can, but there are guys like Backstrom that are going to make you pay as well. We need to respect Ovi and his supporting cast. His supporting cast is just as important.”
With that in mind, Beaulieu insists the key to victory is ensuring Ovechkin & Co. aren’t afforded the opportunity to enter the Canadiens’ zone uncontested. Giving the likes of Ovechkin and Backstrom time to work their magic simply isn’t an option.
“Gap is going to be the biggest thing, especially with the big, strong and fast guys they have. We want them not to be able to make plays at the line. We want to make them dump the puck and start battles,” stressed Beaulieu, who has one goal and nine points during the 2014-15 campaign. “The blue line is going to win the game tonight.”
- If gap control is a primary key to victory against the Capitals, another is discipline. Barry Trotz’s club boasts the League’s best power play, making their opponents pay 24.4 percent of the time.
“That’s an incredible power play. Sometimes, calls happen and penalties are part of the game. We need to be more disciplined in this locker room,” mentioned Beaulieu, whose squad took six minor penalties in its most recent outing against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night. “We know that. A team like Washington is going to make you pay if you’re not disciplined.”
And, if the Capitals do manage to put their League-leading man advantage to work, Gilbert believes the Canadiens are prepared to slow it down.
“We watched a lot of video of their power play this morning. Their team is perfect for that,” offered Gilbert, who will sport a full shield on Thursday night to protect his jaw. “If we give them a chance to score, they’re going to do it. We have to limit their opportunities.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
Projected lineup vs. Washington:
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – Desharnais – Parenteau
Weise – Eller – Prust
De La Rose – Mitchell– Smith-Pelly
Malhotra - Flynn
Markov – Subban
Emelin – Petry
Beaulieu – Gilbert
Gonchar – Pateryn
Words From The Room - April 2
Game Preview: Capitals @ Canadiens
EpiPen® and the Bell Centre team up to support visitors with severe allergies
Slowing down a superstar