- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday in preparation for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre. Michel Therrien’s troops lead the best-of-seven series 3-1.
- The Canadiens’ bench boss confirmed that the lineup featured in Game 4 would remain intact for Game 5.
- There’s been a trend in this series that the Canadiens would very much like to end on Friday night, especially with a spot in Round 2 just one victory away. During the first four games of the series, the Senators have scored first every time, forcing the CH to fight for an equalizer. While the Habs are clearly comfortable playing catch-up, it’s something they’d like to avoid in Game 5.
“Obviously, a good start is important. We’d rather score the first goal than be chasing. That being said, we’ve show in the past that we can play from behind as well. Whatever happens, happens, but we’d like to come out hard and set the tone in our own building,” offered Lars Eller, who has one goal in the series. “The only thing that exists in our mind is the game tonight. We’re in a good position. We’re where we want to be right now. We have another game to end it, and we want to end it tonight.”
In an effort to score that all-important opening goal, the Canadiens can certainly count on the support of the Bell Centre faithful, who will surely be fired up to give the home team their unwavering support in an effort to break things open early. Lighting the lamp first would be the perfect way to create a hostile environment for the opposition.
“It’s definitely a tough building to play in. I think our job now is to get the fans in the game and try and get Ottawa to lose some momentum that way. It’s obviously an advantage playing in front of our home crowd, but it’s only that way if we get them involved in the game,” stressed Max Pacioretty. “It’s important to play with energy early on. That’s one way we can do that.”
- Since Craig Anderson took over in goal for the Senators in Game 3, goals have been hard to come by on both sides. Both teams have combined to score just four goals over the last two games. While Anderson boasts a 0.93 goals-against average, Carey Price checks in at 1.67. It’s safe to say we’re likely in for another goaltending duel on Friday night.
“Both goaltenders have played excellent hockey. When you look at the last two games, we’ve managed to score two goals and the Senators have done the same. There haven’t been a lot of goals scored. When scoring chances have come up, the goalies have been good and they’ve made the saves. It’s been really tight hockey,” mentioned Therrien, who will give Price his eighth straight start between the pipes. “You have to give credit to both teams for their defensive play, particularly over the last two games. We have one win and so do they. It’s tight hockey.”
- The NHL released its list of finalists for the Selke Trophy on Wednesday night. While many people believed that Max Pacioretty or Tomas Plekanec might get the nod, that turned out not to be the case. Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Toews will ultimately vie for the award, which is presented to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
“Every team would like to see their players nominated. Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec are two players who take a lot of pride in their defensive play. They deserved to be there, but it’s the same thing for most teams,” explained Therrien. “We can’t criticize the selection of those three guys, but there could have been others nominated, too.”
In addition to scoring 37 goals during the regular season, Pacioretty was equally strong on defense, registering a plus-38 differential. That tied him for top spot in the League in that particular category. The 26-year-old has one goal during the current playoff run, finding the back of the net in his first outing of the postseason back in Game 2.
“All of our players have similar responsibilities. You have to be responsible on the ice, whether you’re on offense or defense, whether you have the puck or you don’t. You know that Max wants to score goals. He feels good when he scores,” offered Therrien, who has featured Pacioretty on a line with David Desharnais and Devante Smith-Pelly. “When he isn’t having success, he fights for it. The only pressure he should be feeling is making sure that he plays solid hockey, that he’s skating well and that he’s playing hard. Eventually, pucks are going to go in for him.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on CBC and TVA Sports.
Words From The Room - April 24
Game Preview: Senators @ Canadiens - Game 5
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #5
- After dropping a 1-0 decision to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night, the Canadiens held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday afternoon. Michel Therrien’s troops lead their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series 3-1. Game 5 will be played on Friday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
- Daniel Carr, Christian Thomas and Mike Condon, all of whom were recalled from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday, took part in Thursday’s on-ice session on the South Shore. They were among 14 players to hit the ice in preparation for Game 5.
- During his post-practice press conference, Therrien mentioned that he's been satisfied with his lineup as of late, suggesting that the Canadiens could field the same lineup for Game 5 that took to the ice for Game 4.
- Greg Pateryn, who left the ice during the third period on Wednesday night after colliding with Andrei Markov, was back at practice on Thursday. Pateryn sported a few stitches above his eye, but indicated that he'd be good to go for Game 5.
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata on Wednesday, ahead of Game 4 against the Sens.
- For a second year in a row, the Habs have the opportunity to sweep their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal opponents in four-straight, and they’ll be banking on that experience when the puck drops in the nation’s capital.
“We’re confident and loose in here, but we know how important this game is. When you have a team facing elimination, it’s the hardest one to win – we learned that last year,” described Dale Weise, who scored both Habs goals during Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win. “We wanted to close out Tampa last year and we want to get it done again tonight.”
Facing a team which has thrived under pressure during the final stretch of the season, recent history also highlights the importance of a quick finish on Wednesday.
“We saw what L.A. was able to do last year, and we don’t want to fall into a similar scenario,” continued the 26-year-old forward, who now sits second among his teammates for career game-winning goals in the playoffs with three. “It’s very important to get this win tonight.”
- Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will miss Game 4, and the rest of the first round series against Senators with an upper body injury. As first confimed by head coach Michel Therrien on Tuesday, Greg Pateryn will return to the lineup in Beaulieu’s place.
“Pateryn played well when we first called him up. He deserves to be there, and he deserves this chance,” acknowledged the Habs bench boss of the 24-year-old rearguard who played a career-high 17 games with the big club during the 2014-15 regular season. “We have confidence in him because he’s a powerful defenseman who skates well and is capable of making a good first pass.”
In the NHL’s most physical series this postseason – Montreal and Ottawa have combined to dish out a league-high 277 hits through three games so far – it’s no secret why Pateryn got the nod from his coach.
“I think I bring the physical element that we need,” confirmed the Sterling Heights, MI native. “Both teams have been battling physically, and I think that’s a pretty big aspect of my game that I pride myself on – being physical, but not taking stupid penalties. I’m looking forward to it tonight.”
- Joining Pateryn in the physicality department is Devante Smith-Pelly, who in his first postseason with the Habs, already leads the team with 14 hits.
“We need to match their energy and desperation. We don’t want to let them back into this series. They came out strong on Sunday, and should be even tougher tonight with the season on the line,” predicted the former Anaheim Duck, who scored five goals during the 2014 playoffs. “A physical game suits me well, because that’s how I play regardless. These are the types of games that are fun to be a part of.”
- Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron confirmed on Wednesday morning that Craig Anderson will get the start in goal opposite Carey Price for Game 4. Anderson made 47 saves for the Sens most recently in Sunday’s overtime loss.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET on TVA Sports and CBC.
- The Canadiens practiced at Saint Jovite arena on Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s game against the Senators in Ottawa.
- Nathan Beaulieu will miss the rest of the series against the Sens after suffering an upper body injury on a hit from Erik Karlsson during the second period on Sunday.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed following practice that Greg Pateryn will take Beaulieu’s spot in the lineup for Game 4.
Forward lines and defensive pairings at practice:
De La Rose-Eller-Weise
- The Canadiens also announced on Tuesday that the team will play a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at brand new Centre Videotron in Quebec City on September 28. Tickets for the game go on sale this Saturday, April 25.
- The Canadiens benefited from a day off on Monday following Sunday's 2-1 overtime win at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. Holding a 3-0 series lead, Michel Therrien's troops will now spend a day in the Mont Tremblant region, taking part in team-building activities before returning to the ice on Tuesday in Saint Jovite. The Habs head back to the nation's capital for Game 4 on Wednesday.
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata on Sunday morning ahead of contesting Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Ottawa Senators.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that the Canadiens will not feature any lineup changes in Game 3. The Canadiens’ bench boss also indicated that Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau is available for active duty after missing Game 2 with an upper-body injury.
- After going up against netminder Andrew Hammond in the first two games of the series, the Canadiens will have to solve a new goaltender in Game 3 as Craig Anderson will be between the pipes for Ottawa on Sunday night. Michel Therrien’s troops are quite familiar with the Senators starter, who managed to stymie the Canadiens when the two teams last met in the playoffs two years ago. Back then, the 33-year-old allowed just seven goals in five games, pacing the Senators to a 4-1 series victory.
“We all remember the last playoff series we played against him. He played very strong hockey for them. He gave them a chance to win. We expect the same thing. It’s just going to be important for us to get as many shots as we can, get bodies in front and create traffic. We always talk about doing it,” offered Brendan Gallagher, who boasts six goals and 14 points in 24 career playoff games. “He’s going to be excited. We have to make sure that he has to battle and that he has to compete. He’s going to play a good game.”
Like Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk says the key to beating any goaltender remains simply to put pucks on net at a steady pace. That’s really all there is to it.
“I actually skate with [Anderson] in the summer. Hopefully, I can beat him tonight. Our mindset is just to go out there and play our game. We basically want to play the same way we did the last two games,” explained Galchenyuk, who scored his second career game-winning goal in postseason play on Friday night, lifting the Canadiens to a 3-2 overtime win in Montreal. “I think [I know where to shoot on him]. You’re thinking about that stuff before the game. When you’re playing the game, things happen so quickly and you can’t really focus on that. As long as you get the puck to the net and you’re aggressive with the puck, that’s how you create scoring chances.”
- Senators bench boss Dave Cameron also plans to make one additional lineup change on Sunday night, opting to give tough guy Chris Neil a shot in place of Alex Chiasson. Neil hasn’t played since February 14 after suffering a thumb injury.
It’s safe to say Cameron’s decision to go with Neil up front – and Anderson in goal – really doesn’t affect the way the Canadiens plan to go about their business in Game 3.
“We’ve just got to focus on what we can control. That’s how we play. During the playoffs, there are going to be lineup changes and different things going on. You’ve just got to focus on the things that have been getting you success,” stressed P.K. Subban, who has one goal and three points through the first two games of the series. “Right now, it’s just about playing our game and making sure that we’re sharp.”
That will be especially important on Sunday night as the Canadiens look to take a stranglehold on the series in what should be a rather hostile environment.
“They’re going to play desperate hockey. We know that they’re excited to be back home. They’re a team that’s kind of been in this situation all year. They’re definitely still going to have that confidence and that belief in themselves, so it will be on us to play a solid road game and not give them too much momentum,” explained Gallagher, who leads the Canadiens with 10 shots on goal in the series. “This whole series has been about competing and battle level. I don’t think it’s going to change tonight. If we’re not prepared to do those things, we’re not going to get the result that we want.”
- The Canadiens announced that six members of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs have been recalled to serve as the “Black Aces” for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The recalled players include forwards Daniel Carr, Charles Hudon and Christian Thomas, defensemen Darren Dietz and Brett Lernout, as well as goaltender Mike Condon. The players will travel to Montreal on Monday and practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard starting on Tuesday.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on CBC and TVA Sports.
Words From The Room - April 19
Canadiens recall six players from the Hamilton Bulldogs
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #3
Game Preview: Canadiens @ Senators - Game 3
- After posting a 3-2 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 2 on Friday night, the Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday afternoon before heading to the nation’s capital. Game 3 goes on Sunday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.
- Fifteen players took part in the practice session, including Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau who did not suit up in Game 2 after suffering an upper-body injury in the series-opener. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Parenteau is still listed as day-to-day. His status for Game 3 remains uncertain.
- Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk were among those players who elected not to hit the ice on Saturday. Dustin Tokarski and Joey MacDonald split the duties in goal.
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday, ahead of Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre.
- Five players were absent from practice, leaving Friday’s lines to be determined.
- Max Pacioretty, who has missed the team’s last three games with an upper body injury, is nearing closer to a return. The Habs’ leading goalscorer practiced without the tinted visor he had been using previously this week, opting instead for a clear one – a good sign according to head coach Michel Therrien, even if he would not confirm the 26-year-old winger’s return.
“I haven’t spoken with the medical staff yet,” acknowledged the Habs’ bench boss during his post-practice press conference. “But Max is feeling really good. It’s a positive sign. He skated well yesterday and today he’s feeling good, but I can’t confirm whether he’ll be back tonight or on Sunday.”
- Carey Price will be back in goal for Game 2 against the Senators. In his first outing of the 2015 postseason, the All-Star netminder stopped 30 of 33 shots to earn his 43rd career playoff win.
- Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, who was not at practice on Thursday, skated alone on Friday morning, testing his mobility before also taking part in the optional session. Therrien confirmed that the 32-year-old forward’s status will be re-evaluated day-to-day.
- Chris Neil will be back in the Senators lineup for the first time since February 14, when he suffered a fractured finger in a fight with Edmonton’s Luke Gazdic. In just 38 games this season, Neil has registered 78 penalty minutes, averaging more than two minors per game.
Neil’s return follows a physical Game 1 in which a combined 86 hits were dished out on the ice, although the Habs aren’t reading too far into the Sens’ change of personnel.
“Guys fit certain roles and if they feel that’s something the team needs then that’s the way it is. It’s still the same game when it comes down to it, and we’re not going to let lineup changes affect us,” underlined Nathan Beaulieu, who picked up an assist on Brian Flynn’s Game 1 winner. “There are going to be lineup changes with every team throughout the course of the playoffs. It’s just part of the game with injuries and other things that can happen. We’ll be fine.”
- The Canadiens proved to be ready for a physical affair on Wednesday, and insist they’re ready for more on Friday.
“I’m expecting another physical, hard game. Last game was pretty hard, lots of hitting, and I expect the same thing tonight,” predicted Devante Smith-Pelly, who together with Alexei Emelin led the Habs with six hits each during Game 1. Nevertheless, the six-foot, 220-pounder is also expecting a clean affair.
“I don’t think anyone in here is too worried. I know guys in here don’t want to put the team on the penalty kill, and I would assume guys in the other room don’t want to either,” added the 22-year-old forward who scored five goals with the Anaheim Ducks during the 2014 playoffs. “My job is pretty simple – go in and try to create some space for the guys I’m playing with. That’s my job, to finish my checks and wear down the opposing defense.”
- After securing a 4-3 win in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Ottawa Senators, the Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning in preparation for Game 2 on Friday night in Montreal.
- The Canadiens announced that Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau would not take part in Thursday afternoon’s on-ice session. He is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Parenteau logged 12:13 of ice time in Game 1, registering three shots on goal over the course of 18 shifts.
- After being called up on Wednesday from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, goaltender Joey MacDonald took to the ice at the Bell Sports Complex. MacDonald took part in drills with Dustin Tokarski and goaltending coach Stephane Waite before leaving the ice at the start of the formal practice session. He returned near the end of practice for some final drills.
- Max Pacioretty took part in regular line drills on Thursday. He was featured alongside David Desharnais and Devante Smith-Pelly at practice. In his post-practice press conference, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed, however, that Pacioretty hasn’t received medical clearance to return to the lineup just yet. His status for Game 2 remains uncertain.
- P.K. Subban met with members of the media to address Wednesday night’s incident involving Senators forward Mark Stone. Aside from the major penalty Subban was assessed in Game 1, the Norris Trophy winner hasn’t received any supplemental discipline for the slash that ultimately caused a microfracture in Stone’s right wrist.
Lines and defensive pairings at practice:
Prust – Mitchell – Flynn
Gallagher – Plekanec – Galchenyuk
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Smith-Pelly
De La Rose – Eller – Weise
Beaulieu – Gilbert
Markov – Subban
Emelin – Petry
Weaver – Gonchar – Pateryn
- 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