- The Canadiens held a morning skate Wednesday at the Prudential Center in Newark, hours before taking on the New Jersey Devils.
- Centerman David Desharnais is running hot of late, putting up five points (1G 4A) in his last four games, including two assists in the Habs’ come-from-behind win against the Devils Monday night at the Bell Centre. He commented on his team’s sterling defence, which has prevented opposing squads from putting more than two goals on the board in the last 11 games.
“We’re playing well defensively, but it also helps what we are controlling the puck in the offensive zone and that we have our forecheck going. This way we spend a lot less time in our own zone,” offered Desharnais. “Our goaltenders have been incredible too, and that’s the other big part of our success.”
While the Devils have historically played good defensive hockey, Desharnais has been productive against New Jersey, putting up six points in ten career games.
“It’s never easy to play here. We found a way to win on Monday, but clearly tonight will be another story,” cautioned the Habs pivot, who will be facing goaltender Cory Schneider for the first time ever. “Before each game, we go over the strengths and weaknesses of each opposing goalie, but that’s not what we focus on. If we do what we have to do, the goals will take care of themselves.”
- Commenting on his team’s recent successes on both sides of the puck, head coach Michel Therrien underlined his players’ commitment and discipline.
“It’s always good for confidence when you’re on such a roll, but we are always conscious that we have to start over in each game. We’re playing structured, inspired hockey, and we have to keep working in that direction,” insisted the Canadiens’ bench boss. “The players are playing a team game, and we can’t forget that our goalies have been making key saves. Our results are a reflection of the team’s attention to detail.”
He also had some praise for the team’s leading scorer.
“P.K. Subban is doing exactly what we’ve asked of him for him to become an elite defenseman in the NHL. Offensively, he is making the right decisions; he’s always a threat for the other team on the ice. He’s always very dedicated to doing the small things right on defense. I am extremely happy about the way he’s approaching the game,” Therrien added.
- Subban himself thinks that he’s been the beneficiary of some good luck, like on Monday when he made two improbable goal-line stick saves to rob the Devils of sure goals. For him though, luck is just when preparation meets opportunity.
“We’re doing the right things, but obviously you still need the bounces to go your way. A few times, the puck could have gone in, but didn’t. We’re playing the right way and playing well, the puck will bounce in your favour, and that’s what we got. The only way to keep getting those bounces is to do the right things on the ice,” the reigning Norris Trophy winner suggested.
- Rene Bourque did not make the trip to New Jersey due to an upper-body injury, freeing up a spot in the lineup for Ryan White, who had been a healthy scratch on Monday.
- In Bourque's absence, Brandon Prust slotted in to the right of Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller, while Bournival, White and Moen practiced together.
- Coach Therrien announced after practice that Peter Budaj will be in net tonight. The Slovakian veteran will be making his first career start against the Devils. On defense, Francis Bouillon draws in for Douglas Murray.
LINES AT PRACTICE
On Monday afternoon, Hockey Canada revealed the names of the 25 players who will take part in their Selection Camp ahead of the World Junior Hockey Championships that will be held in Sweden and Denmark during the upcoming holiday season.
In 29 games with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens this season, Hudon has amassed 11 goals and 32 points. After missing the championship in 2012 due to injury, Hudon took part in the event in 2013. He registered one assist in seven games.
For his part, Fucale is almost assured of his spot with the team since only two goaltenders will take part in the Selection Camp. Fucale is 17-7-0 with a 2.62 goals-against average in 25 games with the Halifax Mooseheads this season.
- The Canadiens held a morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday ahead of their tilt against the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre.
While Peter DeBoer’s contingent is riding a two-game winning streak, the Canadiens have strung together one impressive performance after another in recent weeks, amassing 11 out of a possible 12 points in their last six games.
In order to keep that momentum going against New Jersey, Lars Eller knows full well that the Canadiens need to dictate play as much as possible, forcing a defensively-sound Devils squad to alter their game plan accordingly.
“I think that we’ve got to play our game and then they’ll adjust to us,” underlined Eller, who has seven goals and 15 points on the season for the Canadiens. “There are certain players that you need to be aware of, of course. They have some good skill up front. In general, they’re a good defensive team where you don’t see many goals scored against, so historically it’s going to probably be a low scoring game tonight.”
- Monday night’s contest will be the first of a home-and-home series with the Devils, as Michel Therrien’s squad will battle New Jersey again on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center in Newark. It also marks the start of a tough stretch of four games in six days for the Canadiens.
“It’s a lot of hockey, but we’ll have our breaks. We’ll have time to rest to get ready for game day,” underlined Brendan Gallagher, who has only missed one game thus far this season. “When you have a day off, you have to take care of your body and do what you have to do away from the rink. It helps to prepare yourself, and when game day comes around, you’re ready to come to the rink and do your job.”
- After being set aside against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night, Michaël Bournival will be back in the lineup against the Devils. On Monday morning, the Shawinigan, QC native skated alongside Brandon Prust and Travis Moen.
“The coach has to put the best lineup available on the ice against each opponent. I accepted his decision. Of course you want to play, but at the same time, I understand the coach’s decision,” explained Bournival, who saw George Parros take his spot in the lineup against Toronto.
The upstart forward met with Michel Therrien after the decision was made, and the pair discussed the expectations that the Habs bench boss has for him going forward.
“He told me that he really liked the type of energy that I bring,” mentioned Bournival, who will play his 24th game in a Canadiens uniform on Monday night. “He explained to me that it wasn’t about my performance, but primarily because of the team’s needs for that particular game.”
- In his post-practice press conference, Michel Therrien indicated that he would not discuss his lineup ahead of Monday night’s game. The question remains whether Francis Bouillon or Douglas Murray will be in uniform against New Jersey.
- Carey Price will likely get the start in goal and should go in search of his fifth consecutive victory on Monday night. If he gets the call, the Anahim Lake, BC native will be making his 18th career start against the Devils. Price holds a 7-9-1 record against New Jersey and a 2.42 goals-against average.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Bourque - Eller - Galchenyuk
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Gallagher
Bournival - Prust - Moen
Gionta - Plekanec - Briere
White - Parros
Subban - Markov
Gorges - Emelin
Diaz - Murray
Words From The Room - Dec. 2
Game preview: MTL vs. NJD
The Numbers Game – November 30, 2013
- The Canadiens practiced at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC on Thursday afternoon ahead of their tilt against the Capitals on Friday afternoon at 5 p.m.
- Defenseman Douglas Murray did not participate in practice on Thursday. He was given a therapy day. Murray was involved in a tough one-on-one tilt with John Scott in the Canadiens’ 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Peter Budaj will get the start in goal against the Capitals on Friday night. Budaj bested the Caps last Friday night in Washington, helping the Canadiens pick up a 3-2 win.
- While Rene Bourque skated alongside his teammates once again at practice on Thursday, it is still unknown whether he will be back in the lineup on Friday afternoon. The veteran winger has missed the last four games with a lower-body injury.
Magnus Nygren, a defenseman with the Hamilton Bulldogs, has been assigned to Färjestad of the Swedish Hockey League on Wednesday.
In 16 games with the Bulldogs, the 23 year-old blueliner has compiled eight points, including seven assists.
The right-hander was drafted by the Canadiens in the fourth round, 113th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
- The Canadiens announced that they have signed assistant general manager Rick Dudley to a contract extension.
"I love the city. I love the passion of the people, and the people that I work with," mentioned Dudley, who met with the media on Wednesday evening. "That goes from Marc [Bergevin] to Larry [Carriere] to Scott [Mellanby] and John [Sedgwick], and you go on to the coaching staff. I get along extremely well with Michel [Therrien]. He’s been a lot of fun. It’s a situation where I’ve been having fun, and I didn’t want to change."
- On Wednesday morning, the Canadiens skated at the First Niagara Center ahead of their tilt against the Buffalo Sabres.
- Wednesday night’s game will be the first of four meetings between the two clubs during the 2013-14 regular season campaign. Last season, the Habs went 2-1-2 against Buffalo overall, and were 1-0-1 at First Niagara Center.
- The Habs will look to extend their current winning streak to four games on Wednesday night. If successful, the Canadiens would match a season-high in that department, having previously won four consecutive contests from
Oct. 10th – 17th.
For their part, the Sabres sit last overall in the NHL standings with 11 points on the year. Buffalo has won just two of 13 home games this season. Despite the Sabres’ struggles thus far this year, the Canadiens aren’t underestimating their opponents.
“We’re definitely not taking the Sabres lightly,” underlined head coach Michel Therrien, whose squad will battle a Sabres contingent that is in the midst of a four-game losing skid. “I think that the players are conscious of the fact that in the NHL, every game is a tough one to play. I have no doubt about it, the guys will be ready to go tonight.”
- As expected, Carey Price will make his 20th start of the season and his 27th career start against the Sabres on Wednesday night. Price is 10-9-7 all-time versus Buffalo.
The Sabres, meanwhile, will start Ryan Miller between the pipes. Miller will be making his 19th start of the year. While the veteran netminder isn’t off to the start he'd hoped for in 2013-14 with a 4-14-0 record and a 3.11 goals-against average, the East Lansing, MI native has always managed to put up stellar performances against the Habs. Miller has 25 wins in 41 outings against the Canadiens, something members of the bleu-blanc-rouge are well aware of.
“They’ve got many good players, and a very, very good goaltender also who can win games by himself. I saw that happen plenty of times when I played here,” confided Daniel Briere, who played alongside Miller for four seasons during his stint in Buffalo. “There’s some danger involved in taking the Sabres lightly. Games likes these can be trap games. There’s so much parity in hockey today that you really can’t read much into the opposing team’s record.”
- The Canadiens practiced Tuesday morning at the Bell Sports Complex, hours before leaving for a short two-game roadtrip in Buffalo and Washington.
- The first part of practice was devoted to the powerplay. Coach Michel Therrien freely rotated his top three lines on the man advantage drills, and employed Markov-Subban and Bouillon-Diaz at the point.
- Rene Bourque, who missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, returned to practice wearing a red full contact jersey. He is cleared to return to action, but will not play on Wednesday.
- Carey Price will likely make his 20th start of the season Wednesday in Buffalo. It will be his 27th career game against the Sabres (10-9-7).
- Coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Peter Budaj will start one of the two games later in the week. He did not, however, mention if it will come against the Capitals on Friday and the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
LINES AT PRACTICE
The QMJHL announced on Monday morning that two members of the Canadiens organization - Patrice Brisebois and Gerard Gallant - were going to be inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame.
During his career in the Junior ranks, Brisebois played for the Laval Titan and the Drummondville Voltigeurs. For his part, Gallant suited up for the Sherbrooke - and Saint-Jean - Castors, before joining the Verdun Juniors. He also made his mark as a coach with the Saint-John Sea Dogs.
- The Canadiens trained at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday morning.
- Instead of the usual on-ice practice, the players were instead led by strength and conditional coach Pierre Allard in a series of off-ice exercises.
- After warming up on the Complex’s soccer field, the Habs partook in a circuit training program designed to prepare their bodies for a stretch of four games in six days.
- The Canadiens will visit Buffalo on Wednesday and Washington on Friday, before heading back to the Bell Centre to take on Toronto Saturday night and New Jersey next Monday.
WASHINGTON – The Habs held an optional morning skate at the Verizon Center on Friday.
Despite the session being optional, player turnout was large, with only Tomas Plekanec, Daniel Briere and Ryan White opting for a treatment day rather than going on the ice. There will be no changes to the Habs’ forward lines for Friday night.
Peter Budaj will make his fifth start of the season for the visiting team. Carey Price will be back in action Saturday night against the Penguins at the Bell Centre.
With two matches in 24 hours on the schedule, head coach Michel Therrien decided to give a day off to 38 year-old veteran Francis Bouillon. In his place will be Douglas Murray, who has been a healthy scratch for the past two games. Therrien did mention that Bouillon will return to the lineup the following night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We have seven healthy defensemen and I don’t want to leave a guy like Douglas Murray off the ice too long,” stated Therrien regarding the hulking Swede. “It’s a discussion we’ve had since Emelin returned to the lineup. At 38 years of age, we have to keep in mind that the season is a long one. Bouillon will be in the lineup tomorrow.”
On his end, Douglas Murray is happy with the decision and will look to slow down the powerful Capitals offence led by Alex Ovechkin. Despite sitting out against the Rangers and the Wild, he assures that there isn’t much rust to be shaken off.
“It’s not something that’s out of the ordinary, since I’ve missed some time with injury earlier this season. You just prepare yourself to the best of your ability and be ready to go,” offered Murray, who is always up for a challenge. “It’s a great scenario to face Ovechkin. I’m looking forward to playing and to make a good impression.”
Canadiens blueliner Raphael Diaz, known a highly cerebral two-way player, took some time after practice to explain the differences in style between Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, two of the most talented forwards in the league and the headliners for the Habs’ next two adversaries.
“For Ovechkin, you’ll have to be aware when he’s on the ice, for sure. He has a good shot, a good one-timer. You’ll always have to keep an eye on him,” asserts Diaz about the Russian all-star, who is Washington’s main trigger man, averaging six shots per game so far this season. “Ovechkin is bigger, he’s a winger so he’ll be more on the forecheck, looking to use his speed and his physicality.”
“Crosby is a centerman so he’ll play a bit more behind his winger. He is definitely a great passer, so that’s something we’ll have to watch out for as well,” added Diaz, noting the potency of Crosby’s elite calibre supporting cast in Pittsburgh.
“We’ll take it game by game. Tonight we want to be ready for Washington, and tomorrow is another game, another big team,” Montreal’s number 61 concluded. “In the meantime it’s important to get two points tonight.”