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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.05.2014 / 1:28 PM

- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the TD Garden in Boston on Thursday morning ahead of contesting    Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins.

- All players were present and accounted for at practice on Thursday morning, except for Max Pacioretty.

- The Canadiens did not feature any lines at practice. Head coach Michel Therrien indicated that he would not reveal his lineup prior to the start of Game 1. He also said that Travis Moen would be available for the game, if needed. Moen has been sidelined since sustaining a concussion on Mar. 24 against the Bruins.

- Boasting the most playoff experience on the Canadiens roster, Daniel Briere knows a thing or two about the upswing in physicality during the playoffs. The 36-year-old forward experienced that type of hockey as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.

“I’ve had the chance to play some intense playoff hockey in my life. Philadelphia-Boston, Philadelphia-Pittsburgh. We all saw how things got out of hand a few years back,” mentioned Briere, who recalled the 2012 playoffs that featured a Flyers-Penguins matchup in which both clubs combined to rack up 309 penalty minutes during the series. “We’ll see what happens, but I’m comfortable in those types of series, too. I’ve been involved in series that have a similar type of feeling as this one. You never know how things are going to go. We’re ready for everything. That’s the beauty of hockey. You never know what to expect. ”

Briere, who has gone up against the Bruins 50 times during the regular season over the course of his NHL career, has a healthy respect for the Canadiens’ opponent in the second round. He insists the matchup is a special one.

“We feel good. We feel confident. We know that the Bruins are a great hockey team, but sometimes there are matchups that are more comfortable than others. We think that this might be one of them,” concluded Briere.

- It’s no secret what brand of hockey the Bruins intend to play against the Canadiens come puck drop on Thursday night in Boston. Simply put, Claude Julien’s troops are who they are, and they likely won’t deviate from an aggressive and hard-hitting style of play that enabled them to capture the Presidents’ Trophy this season before downing the Red Wings in five games in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs.

That being said, the Canadiens are coming off an impressive sweep of the Lightning in Round 1, and they don’t intend on deviating from what has brought them success thus far during the playoffs.

RAW: Josh Gorges

“We need to focus on what makes our team good no matter who we’re playing. We can’t try to play Boston Bruins hockey. We have to focus on what we do and how we make ourselves successful,” offered defenseman Josh Gorges, who will battle the Bruins in a playoff series for the third time in his NHL career beginning on Thursday night. “We’ve got to have guys that are in their face, that are willing to go to the net, live in the paint and not bump the goalie. You can’t be taking penalties. You can’t be taking retaliations if they give you an extra shot.”

In the midst of his third career playoff run – and second as a member of the Canadiens – Rene Bourque stressed a similar approach, noting the importance of maintaining self-discipline against a Bruins squad that boasts the top-ranked power play in the NHL this postseason.

“It’s playoffs. I think that penalties are just that much bigger when you take them and they can hurt you that much more,” offered Bourque, who sits tied with Brendan Gallagher for top spot on the team with three goals through four games during the playoffs. “There are guys on both sides that are agitators. Everybody knows who they are. We’ve just got to play smart.”

- Head coach Michel Therrien knows the Bruins and bench boss Claude Julien well. Interestingly enough, Julien was behind the bench in Hamilton during Therrien’s first coaching stint with the Canadiens. Needless to say, Therrien knows what the Bruins are capable of.

“We’re playing against the best team. Underdog or not, the Boston Bruins are the best team in the league right now. We understand that it’s a huge challenge not only for us, but for all of the teams that play them,” offered Therrien, who has prepared his team for Thursday night’s tilt over the last 10 days. “They finished in first place and it was well-deserved. We’re confident, though. I like the way that we finished the year. That gave us the confidence we needed coming into the playoffs. We had a really good first round. The way that we played in the first round gave us confidence for the next step.”

SEE ALSO
Words From The Room - May 1
Game 1 preview: MTL vs. BOS
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Bruins #1

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 30.04.2014 / 1:07 PM
BROSSARD – On Wednesday morning, the Canadiens held a practice at the Bell Sports Complex. It was their final practice in Montreal before flying to Boston for Game 1 of the second round, which will be played on Thursday night.

- There was a good deal of work done on special teams, with five-on-four zone drills featuring the team’s designated powerplay and penalty kill players the focus early in the practice.

- The session was up-tempo, with plenty of quick passing drills emphasizing getting the puck from the defensemen up to the forwards and getting a rush going through the neutral zone.

- The players then took part in five-on-five zone drills, designed to simulate the intensity of a game situation.

- There were no changes to the line combinations on Tuesday. Coach Therrien will confirm the Game 1 lineup of his team on Thursday.

LINES AT PRACTICE

Pacioretty-Desharnais-Vanek
Prust-Plekanec-Gallagher
Bourque-Eller -Gionta
Moen-Briere-Weise
Bournival-White-Parros

Gorges-Subban
Markov-Emelin
Bouillon-Weaver
Tinordi-Murray
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POSTED ON Monday, 28.04.2014 / 12:14 PM
BROSSARD – On Monday morning, the Canadiens held a practice at the Bell Sports Complex.

-    To mix up the team’s routine, the coaching staff have arranged to simulate a game day. On the menu: a short morning skate with all the players, an afternoon team-building activity, and a closed scrimmage at the Bell Centre involving Habs and Bulldog call-ups in the evening.

-    Assistant coach Clement Jodoin took time to go over powerplay formations with the players while assistant coach Jean-Jacques Daignault conferred with the designated penalty killers.

-    Most of the practice was dedicated to special teams work, with the powerplay units trying out new formations.

-    There are no changes in the lineup from yesterday’s session.

LINES AT PRACTICE

Pacioretty-Desharnais-Vanek
Prust-Plekanec-Gallagher
Bourque-Eller -Gionta
Moen-Briere-Weise
Bournival-White-Parros

Gorges-Subban
Markov-Emelin
Bouillon-Weaver
Tinordi-Murray
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POSTED ON Sunday, 27.04.2014 / 11:38 AM

- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sunday morning. All players were present and accounted for, minus Alex Galchenyuk who remains sidelined due to injury.

- Head coach Michel Therrien tweaked his forward lines slightly on Sunday. Travis Moen skated on a line with Daniel Briere and Dale Weise, while Michael Bournival lined up alongside George Parros and Ryan White. The defensive pairings, however, remained the same as in previous practices.

Lines and pairings at practice:

Pacioretty-Desharnais-Vanek
Prust-Plekanec-Gallagher
Bourque-Eller-Gionta
Moen-Briere-Weise
Bournival-White-Parros

Gorges-Subban
Markov-Emelin
Bouillon-Weaver
Tinordi-Murray

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POSTED ON Saturday, 26.04.2014 / 11:53 AM
BROSSARD – On Saturday morning, the Canadiens held a practice at the Bell Sports Complex.

-    All players, except the injured Alex Galchenyuk, were on the ice Saturday morning.

-    The players kicked off practice with some breakout drills, testing their timing and quick-reaction passing.

-    The team then progressed to full-ice three-on-two rush drills and a short skate designed to build conditioning.


LINES AT PRACTICE

Pacioretty-Desharnais-Vanek
Prust-Plekanec-Gallagher
Bourque-Eller -Gionta
Bournival-Briere-Weise
Moen-White-Parros

Gorges-Subban
Markov-Emelin
Bouillon-Weaver
Tinordi-Murray


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POSTED ON Friday, 25.04.2014 / 11:43 AM
BROSSARD – On Friday morning, the Canadiens held a practice at the Bell Sports Complex, their first since completing a series sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

- The players kicked off practice with some four-men transition drills, allowing both Carey Price and Peter Budaj to see plenty of shot after two days of rest.

- Travis Moen skated alongside Ryan White and George Parros wearing a blue full contact jersey.

- The transition from rest to full practice tempo was easy for Max Pacioretty and Thomas Vanek, who passed the puck crisply and picked corners nearly at will during a three-on-one rush drill.

- A rarity this season, the team followed up their usual passing and skating drills with a four-on-four scrimmage. A variety of forward combinations were used, with regular linemates split up and skating alongside players they usually would not have a chance to play with.

- After practice, Michel Therrien indicated that forward Alex Galchenyuk has yet to skate after suffering a lower-body injury in the final week of the regular season. Therrien hopes that Galchenyuk will be back in time to take part in the second round of the playoffs, but offered no timetable for the youngster's return.

LINES AT PRACTICE

Pacioretty-Desharnais-Vanek
Prust-Plekanec-Gallagher
Bourque-Eller -Gionta
Bournival-Briere-Weise
Moen-White-Parros

Gorges-Subban
Markov-Emelin
Bouillon-Weaver
Tinordi-Murray
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 22.04.2014 / 12:55 PM

- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday morning ahead of contesting Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

- Thirteen skaters took part in the on-ice session conducted under the watchful eye of coaches J.J. Daigneault, Gerard Gallant, Clement Jodoin and Stephane Waite, including forwards Brendan Gallagher, Travis Moen, Daniel Briere, George Parros, Ryan White and Michael Bournival. Defensemen Douglas Murray, Josh Gorges, Mike Weaver, Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban and Jarred Tinordi were also present, as was goaltender Peter Budaj.

- Despite owning a 3-0 series lead, Michel Therrien’s troops aren’t taking anything for granted heading into their Game 4 matchup against the Lightning at the Bell Centre. While Tampa Bay is just one loss away from elimination, playoff veteran Daniel Briere knows full well that a best-of-seven series isn’t over until one team picks up that highly coveted fourth victory.

RAW: Daniel Briere

The 36-year-old, who was a part of a Philadelphia Flyers squad that overcame a 3-0 series deficit to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals back in 2010, and a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 in Boston, insists the Lightning boast the mental makeup to achieve what to many people might seem almost impossible.

“The Lightning are a tenacious group. We saw it this year when [Steven] Stamkos went down. Everyone was expecting them to fall apart, but they did the exact opposite,” offered Briere, who has one assist in three postseason games in 2013-14. “They banded together and they played good hockey to finish out the year strong. I’m expecting the same thing from them. They’re used to facing adversity and they won’t give up.”

With that in mind, defenseman Josh Gorges is adamant that the Canadiens’ game plan heading into Tuesday night’s tilt remains the same.

“We need come out with the same preparation, the same mindset that we’ve come out with in previous games. It might be redundant, but it’s a new day, a new challenge. We’re facing a desperate team, a team that’s on their last legs and we know that,” stressed Gorges, who sits tied with Lars Eller for top spot on the team with a plus-4 differential through three postseason games. “They’re going to come out with everything that they have, so we’ll need to match that. We’ll need to have that killer instinct, that mentality to win every battle, the battles in front of the net and the battles at the blueline. We’ve got to have that strong mindset tonight.”

- Daniel Briere was one of six Canadiens players who made their Bell Centre playoff debuts on Sunday night, and the experience of donning the bleu-blanc-rouge in front of 21,273 rabid Habs fans was something the 15-year NHL veteran won’t soon forget, particularly because he ensured it was a true family affair.

“I’ll remember that game for a long time. My three boys were there. They’ve also seen plenty of playoff games, but they told me how impressed they were by the crowd and the ambiance throughout the game, at the beginning and especially at the end when we won. I experienced some great moments in Philadelphia and Buffalo, but what I experienced here on Sunday night was special,” praised Briere, who has 50 goals and 110 points in 111 career NHL playoff games.

Ginette Reno’s electric rendition of O Canada prior to puck drop also struck a chord with Briere, who believes it made the occasion even more special.

“I helped the players understand why the crowd was so loud when Ginette [Reno] sang the national anthem. It was a nice moment. I had goosebumps,” said Briere. “The crowd was just so excited and I’d like to experience that again when tonight’s game is over.”

- For her part, Reno has confirmed that she will once again sing O Canada on Tuesday night.

- Goaltender Ben Bishop took part in the Lightning’s morning skate at the Bell Centre. He was on the ice for approximately 15 minutes. Anders Lindback was the first goaltender to leave the ice following practice, suggesting he could be between the pipes for the Lightning on Tuesday night.

SEE ALSO
Words From The Room - April 22
Game 4 Preview: MTL vs. TBL
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Lightning #4
Business as usual

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 22.04.2014 / 12:50 PM

The Hamilton Bulldogs players who were called up late Sunday afternoon also skated at the Bell Sports Complex on Tuesday, utilizing the facility’s primary ice rink following the Canadiens’ morning skate. The Bulldogs’ regular season came to a close on Apr. 19 as the squad failed to qualify for the AHL playoffs.

RAW: Sylvain Lefebvre

“We definitely want to develop our players in a winning environment. But, we play in very tough division. Only two teams made the playoffs, including Rochester. They got in by the back door,” underlined Bulldogs head coach, Sylvain Lefebvre, who saw his team finish the 2013-14 campaign with a 33-35-8 record. “It’s very competitive. We missed the playoffs by four or five wins. We gave up 16 empty-net goals, so we believe we were competitive for the majority of our games.”

Even though the Bulldogs’ season came to premature end, Lefebvre is still satisfied with the progress players made under his watch.

“If we put the results of the team aside, there are plenty of positives when it comes to the development of our younger guys,” mentioned Lefebvre, who didn’t hesitate to single out several notables while holding his end-of-season press conference with the Montreal media on Tuesday. “You just have to look at a guy like Sven Andrighetto, who despite missing a few games with an injury to start the season, still put up good numbers offensively. He scored some big goals. His confidence grew as the season went on.”

SEE ALSO

Game 4 Preview: MTL vs. TBL
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Lightning #4
Business as usual

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POSTED ON Monday, 21.04.2014 / 12:19 PM

The Canadiens held a noon skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday. Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin took advantage of therapy days and were not on the ice. All other players were present, except Alex Galchenyuk (lower body).

After being called up on Sunday night, 10 players from Hamilton will arrive in Montreal on Monday evening and will skate in Brossard on Tuesday morning on the second ice at the Bell Sports Complex.

Lines at practice

Pacioretty-Desharnais-Vanek
Bourque-Gionta-Eller
Prust-Plekanec-Gallagher
Bournival-Briere-Weise
Parros-White-Moen

SEE ALSO:
Comforts of home
Boxscore: Game 3
Game 3 Highlights


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POSTED ON Sunday, 20.04.2014 / 12:33 PM

- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sunday morning ahead of Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Lightning. Based on the lines featured at practice, the Habs should field the same lineup that secured a 4-1 victory in Game 2 on Friday night.

- Coaches and players spent about 15 minutes prior to the start of practice working on special teams play.

- Travis Moen skated alongside his teammates again on Sunday morning. He was featured on a line with Ryan White and George Parros. Following practice, Moen worked with strength and conditioning coach, Pierre Allard, on absorbing physical contact along the boards. During his post-practice press conference, head coach Michel Therrien indicated that the Stewart Valley, SK native is inching closer and closer to returning to active duty after sustaining a concussion.

- After spending the better part of last week in Florida, the Canadiens make their much-anticipated return to the Bell Centre on Sunday night. It will undoubtedly be the perfect opportunity for fans to cheer on their favorite players, and, more importantly, play an active role in trying to pace the bleu-blanc-rouge to a Game 3 win.

“It’s always been an incredible place to play. The fans are behind us. You have to be careful not to try to do too much, though. We have to play a simple and structured game, just like we did on the road,” explained David Desharnais, who admits that despite playing 129 games at the Bell Centre over the course of his career, he still feels some jitters when taking to the ice at home. “It’s the perfect time. The butterflies are there, you feel some nerves when you step out there, but that means you really appreciate the moment for what it is.”

For those players who’ve only tasted the Bell Centre atmosphere during the regular season, however, Sunday night’s tilt marks the start of a new chapter in their hockey careers, one that includes seeing first-hand what playoff fever in Montreal is all about.

“The regular season is already pretty exciting. I can’t imagine what it will be like tonight,” confided Mike Weaver, who should be paired with veteran Francis Bouillon once again come puck drop.

RAW: Josh Gorges

- After besting the Lightning in the first two games of the series in the Sunshine State, the Canadiens find themselves in familiar postseason territory entering Game 3, but they’re looking for a far different outcome this time around. Back in 2011, the Habs went into Boston and built a 2-0 series lead in round one, only to drop four of the next five games en route to being eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champions in a decisive tilt in Massachusetts.

While defenseman Josh Gorges didn’t take part in the series after undergoing season-ending knee surgery to repair a torn ACL in early 2011, the Canadiens’ assistant captain insists the outcome of that series is far behind them as they get set for Game 3.

“It’s a new year. It’s a new challenge. You learn from past experiences, and we’ll take what we can from those experiences. But, this is a whole new ballgame, a whole new challenge. I think the important thing for us is to focus on tonight only,” offered Gorges, who boasts 42 games of playoff experience in a Canadiens uniform. “What’s happened the previous two games doesn’t matter. We know this is an important game for both teams and we’ve got to make sure that we’re focused and we’re energized, but we need to play smart hockey.”

- Despite scoring four goals in the series-opener last Wednesday night in Tampa, the Lightning had their fair share of difficulty solving Carey Price in Game 2. The Bolts, however, could be welcoming rookie sensation and top scorer, Ondrej Palat, back to the lineup for Game 3, which would add some extra offensive punch at a time when they need it most.

Palat’s possible return, however, has no bearing on Michel Therrien’s game plan for Sunday night.

“No, there’s no change. When we started the playoffs, he was in the lineup. He’s an important player for them. It will be up to us to limit his time and space and play physical hockey against him,” offered Therrien, who watched as Palat went down with an upper-body injury in Game 1. “They’re an extremely fast team. We have to continue focusing on our structure and taking away their speed. It’s very important to limit their reaction time and their space out there on the ice. It’s a priority for us.”

Projected lineup vs. Tampa Bay

Prust-Plekanec-Gallagher
Gionta-Eller-Bourque
Pacioretty-Desharnais-Vanek
Bournival-Briere-Weise
Moen-White-Parros

Subban-Gorges
Emelin-Markov
Weaver-Bouillon
Tinordi-Murray

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