General manager Marc Bergevin met the media on Saturday afternoon ahead of Game 1 of the Eastern Conferece Finals between the Canadiens and Rangers at the Bell Centre.
Bergevin touched on a number of subjects during the media session, including several key player acquisitions over the course of the 2013-14 regular season campaign.
“There are players that get you in the playoffs, and players that get you through the playoffs,” offered Bergevin, noting the immediate impact that both Dale Weise and Mike Weaver had in the first two rounds of postseason play. “Dale and Mike are a big part of our success.”
As is head coach Michel Therrien, who Bergevin praised time and again for helping the Canadiens through several difficult stretches at different times during the year.
"Michel Therrien was a good coach six months ago, and he was good even when we lost five games in a row,” explained Bergevin, stressing that he has the utmost respect for the veteran bench boss’ body of work over the last two seasons in Montreal.
After praising his team for their unwavering work ethic and relentlessness in the face of adversity, Bergevin went on to express his admiration for the Canadiens fan base.
“I see a special team here, a team that when times are tough rolls up their sleeves and goes straight to work. I’m proud of this group,” indicated Bergevin, noting that he believes the turning point in the Canadiens’ season came on Mar. 15 when they staged a comeback for the ages over the Senators in Montreal. “The passion in this city and in the province of Quebec is off the charts. It’s incredible. The people live and breathe hockey.”
With a tough playoff series set to get underway against New York, the Habs GM also shared his thoughts on the Canadiens’ next opponent.
“We have a lot of respect for the Rangers. They want the same thing we do,” offered Bergevin. “I believe our guys are ready for this series because we’re aware of the challenge ahead of us.”
- After a well-deserved day off on Thursday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard in preparation for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Finals series against the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre.
- Alex Galchenyuk skated alongside his teammates once again on Friday. He took part in drills as a member of the fifth line with George Parros, Travis Moen and Ryan White. After practice, the 20-year-old confirmed that he had been cleared for contact by team doctors.
- Head coach Michel Therrien ran his troops through a fast-paced practice session, focusing a lot of time on breakouts and odd-man rush situations.
- For their part, the Rangers practiced in New York on Friday morning before flying to Montreal for the series-opener on Saturday.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at TD Garden ahead of Game 7 against the Bruins on Wednesday night. All players were on the ice, with the exception of Carey Price, Alexei Emelin and P.K. Subban.
- Alex Galchenyuk participated in his first full practice with the team since suffering a lower body injury on April 9 against the Blackhawks. He was wearing a blue non-contact jersey on Wednesday morning.
- Eight Habs could play in their first career Game 7s on Wednesday night, including Nathan Beaulieu, Michael Bournival, Rene Bourque, David Desharnais, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Dale Weise and Emelin. Captain Brian Gionta leads the Canadiens in the rubber match experience department, having racked up four points in six career Game 7s.
- After being forced to watch the team’s most recent Game 7 in Boston in 2011 from the sidelines while recovering from a knee injury, Josh Gorges has won all three Game 7s he’s taken part in during his career and he can’t wait to put that undefeated record on the line on Wednesday night.
|Rock the Sweater|
“Any time you get to a Game 7, the excitement of it never goes away. It’s a game you want to be in. You want to be playing this game. You want to be a guy that contributes and helps the team get this win,” shared Gorges, who helped lead the Habs to victory in Game 7 against the Bruins in 2008 and the Capitals and Penguins in 2010. “We’re excited as a group about the challenge tonight. It’s going to be a hard-fought game and it’s going to take everything we’ve got from every player we’ve got in this room.”
- Game 7s between the Bruins and Habs have become a regular occurrence in the springtime, with the two teams set to face off in a seventh game in a best-of-seven series for the ninth time in NHL history. Montreal has gotten the better of Boston in those games historically, carrying a 5-3 record into the 2014 edition of the postseason Game 7 matchup.
“This is what we play the game for. Both teams are in a do-or-die situation and you’ve got two teams that have been bitter rivals for years,” described the Canadiens’ assistant captain. “Neither team wants to go home and neither team wants their season to end, so you get the best of both teams. It’s going to be a tough game, but it’s going to be a lot of fun to be a part of.”
- Despite being hours away from taking part in his first Game 7 from behind the bench, Michel Therrien isn’t battling butterflies heading into Wednesday’s game. After watching his troops respond to adversity with a convincing 4-0 win in Game 6 to tie the series, the coach knows what to expect from his team heading into TD Garden.
“I’m excited and I’m looking forward to tonight’s game. We had the same mindset before the last game that we do now,” he confirmed. “We have a good attitude and I can see great chemistry with our players. I saw them yesterday and again this morning and they have a great attitude.”
- No one in the Habs dressing room stepped up his game on Monday night to help stave off elimination more than Carey Price, who recorded his first shutout of the 2014 postseason in Game 6. Carrying a 1-1 record in previous Game 7s – including a stellar 1.91 goals-against average and .932 save percentage – into Wednesday’s game, the All-Star netminder has been leading by example throughout the playoffs and his head coach expects that trend to continue on Wednesday night.
“He sent a message in the last game with the way he played. He’s a leader on this team and he was a leader for Team Canada when he won the gold medal,” stressed Therrien on the 2014 Olympic champ, who has a .922 save percentage through 10 games in the 2014 Playoffs. “When the players see that, it gives everyone confidence. I think the message he has to send has already been sent. For us, Monday was a Game 7 and we’ll carry that experience with us.”
- The Canadiens may be facing the Bruins in Game 7 nearly 500 km away from home, but they won’t be without the support of the Bell Centre faithful when the puck drops in Boston. Opening the doors for a special viewing party back home, the organization will welcome a full house to watch the game on the Bell Centre scoreboard after selling out tickets to the event a few hours after they went on sale on Tuesday afternoon, with all proceeds benefitting the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
“I guess it shouldn’t surprise me but it kind of does a little bit,” admitted Gallagher of the team’s ability to pack the building to watch the Habs play on TV. “That’s what you get with the Montreal Canadiens. You get the passion from the fans and it feeds us as players. Obviously we put a lot of importance on this game and so do they. Hopefully we can put on a good show. You have to really play like it’s your last shift and like there’s no tomorrow. You just have to work as hard as you can. It sounds simple, but if you go out and do that every shift you give yourself a good chance to win.”
BROSSARD – On Tuesday morning, a few Canadiens players took part in a morning practice at the Bell Sports Complex before flying to Boston.
- Alex Galchenyuk skated with his teammates for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury in the final month of the regular season. He wore a white non-contact jersey. After practice, coach Michel Therrien indicated that Galchenyuk is making progress toward a return but will not take part in Game 7.
- In addition to Carey Price and Peter Budaj, nine skaters took part in practice. Forwards on the ice were Galchenyuk, Ryan White, George Parros, Michael Bournival and Travis Moen. On defense were Douglas Murray, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi and Francis Bouillon. They were led in drills by assistant coach Gerard Gallant.
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday in preparation for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins at the Bell Centre.
- Alex Galchenyuk skated prior to the start of practice alongside Canadiens strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard.
- In his post-practice press conference on Monday morning, head coach Michel Therrien didn’t indicate whether or not he’d make any lineup changes heading into Game 6 against the Bruins. As per usual, the Canadiens bench boss kept that information close to the vest, stressing the fact that he felt no pressure whatsoever to tinker with a lineup that has responded well to adversity all season long, regardless of which players ultimately took to the ice come game time.
That being said, Therrien insists matching up against the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners in a do-or-die scenario offers up a fascinating test for coaches and players alike.
|RAW: Michel Therrien|
“I see it rather as a good challenge. We all understand the importance of tonight’s game. The fact that we’re playing Game 6 at home against one of the league’s powerhouse teams presents an interesting challenge for this group,” offered Therrien, who last coached in a Game 6 situation during the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals when he was behind the bench in Pittsburgh.
“That’s what I sense from my players, too,” added Therrien, whose Penguins squad ultimately lost that particular game by a 3-2 margin as the Red Wings hoisted the Stanley Cup at Mellon Arena in Western Pennsylvania. “We’re looking forward to tonight’s game. We have to have the right attitude heading into a game like this. After speaking with the guys yesterday and today, I sense that they’re right there.”
- Many players inside the Canadiens locker room aren’t strangers to the situation they find themselves in with Game 6 just hours away. Back in 2011, Tomas Plekanec was part of a squad that staved off elimination at the hands of the Bruins down 3-2 in the series with a must-win Game 6 at the Bell Centre.
With memories of the Canadiens’ 2-1 victory on that night in mind, the veteran centerman believes there’s a clear cut way to come out on top in these types of situations.
“There’s no secret but to have a good game. We have to go right at them from the start. We’ve got to play our game and use our speed,” underlined Plekanec, who has three goals and seven points in nine postseason games in 2014. “It was really close the last time that we played against them in the playoffs. We lost in overtime in Game 7 and we were right there. We just need to focus on tonight’s game. We can’t start thinking about Game 7 now. We have to focus on having a good start tonight and we’ll go from there.”
- Like Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher will draw on past experience when he takes to the ice against the Bruins on Monday night to contest the first Game 6 of his NHL career.
“I think back to similar experiences I’ve had back in Junior. I’ve been in the exact same situation where we’ve been down 3-2 and came back and won a series. It’s certainly not impossible,” offered the 22-year-old right-winger, who sits tied for the team lead with Rene Bourque and P.K. Subban with four goals this postseason. “It’s certainly a tough task as well, but at the same time you’re not worrying about two games, you’re worrying about one game. If you take care of one game, the whole situation is different. But, you’ve got to show up and make sure you play your best game tonight.
“We need to come out and we need to be the hungrier team,” added Gallagher. “We need to be desperate, but at the same time we need to focus in on all the little details that got us to this point.”
Words From The Room - May 12
Game 6 preview: MTL vs. BOS
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Bruins #6
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sunday afternoon in preparation for Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins on Monday night at the Bell Centre.
- Alex Galchenyuk took to the ice prior to the start of practice, with his workout consisting primarily of skating, mobility and puck handling drills.
- Thirteen players hit the ice on Sunday afternoon under the watchful eyes of assistant coach Gerard Gallant and goaltending coach Stephane Waite, including forwards Daniel Briere, Travis Moen, Ryan White, Brandon Prust, Michael Bournival and George Parros. Defensemen Douglas Murray, Nathan Beaulieu, Mike Weaver, Francis Bouillon and Jarred Tinordi were also on the ice, as were goaltenders Carey Price and Peter Budaj.
Rene Bourque did not participate in the morning skate, instead opting to take advantage of a therapy day. All other players were on the ice.
With 18 different players factoring in on the scoresheet through eight games in the postseason, secondary scoring has proven to be a key to the Canadiens’ success so far this spring. While scoring by committee has led the Habs to the second round, Max Pacioretty knows that to go deeper in the playoffs, he’ll need to rediscover the scoring touch that saw him finish the regular season one goal shy of becoming a 40-goal man for the first time in his career.
“I’ve got to be relied upon to score important goals. I haven’t done that yet. I just have to keep fighting the way I have been and maybe just calm down a bit,” shared the 25-year-old sniper, who scored the series-clinching goal against Tampa in the first round. “But we’ve only played eight games and it’s only been four games since I last scored. I feel that I’ve been contributing in other ways. Obviously I know that I can do better to score goals, and hopefully I can do that from here on out. It’s a best of 3 series now, and I just have to worry about what I can control and try to help the team win.”
|RAW: Max Pacioretty|
After sweeping the Lightning in the first round before going up 1-0 and 2-1 against the Bruins at various points in Round 2, the Canadiens have spent the majority of the 2014 Playoffs sitting comfortably in the driver’s seat. With the opportunity to head back to Montreal either up 3-2 or facing elimination for the first time this postseason, Brendan Gallagher recognizes the importance of putting in a solid performance in Game 5.
“Each game there’s been such a slim margin of error and it’s the little mistakes or bounces that have been the difference,” explained Gallagher, who has six points in eight playoff games in 2014. “Obviously this is a big game when it’s tied 2-2. It’s Game 5 on the road so you want to make sure you come out and give yourself a great chance to win the game. We know they’re going to be fired up playing in front of their home crowd, but for us it doesn’t change anything. We need to come in and play good road hockey and really minimize our mistakes.”
Having trailed their opponents for less than 10 minutes in the entire second round, the Canadiens haven’t had to play much come-from-behind hockey against the Bruins, but that isn’t inspiring the Habs to head into Game 5 overconfident. With two of the four games coming down to overtime and the other two decided by a slim two-goal margin, veteran defenseman Josh Gorges knows the series might be different had a few bounces gone the other way.
“I think both teams have played well all four games. It’s been close. We’ve had the lead, but I think in some of those games Carey [Price] really held us in there and it could’ve been a different story,” admitted Gorges, who has played just over 14 shorthanded minutes so far in the playoffs. “We want to have the lead and we want to play with the lead, but what’s happened up until now doesn’t matter anymore. Today is a new day.”
Puck drop for Game 5 is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EDT at TD Garden in Boston. The Habs will return home for Game 6 in Montreal at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Monday night.
Game 5 preview: MTL vs. BOS
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Bruins #5
RAW: Words from the Room
Game Four Highlights
BROSSARD – On Friday morning, a few Canadiens players took part in a morning practice at the Bell Sports Complex.
- With the team flying to Boston later in the afternoon, the players who took part in Game Four on Thursday night did not skate. On the ice were Brandon Prust, Ryan White, George Parros, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi and Francis Bouillon. Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski were the goaltenders present.
- The players worked on passing and shooting drills for roughly one hour under the supervision of assistant coach Clement Jodoin before heading off.
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of contesting Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins at the Bell Centre. Assistant coaches Clement Jodoin, Gerard Gallant and J.J. Daigneault led the skate along with goaltending coach Stephane Waite.
- Twenty players took part in the practice session on Thursday, including forwards Daniel Briere, David Desharnais, Ryan White, Travis Moen, Michael Bournival, Rene Bourque, Brandon Prust, Thomas Vanek, George Parros and Ryan White. Defensemen Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, Francis Bouillon, Jarred Tinordi, Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver were also on the ice, as was goaltender Peter Budaj.
- If the physicality meter tipped slightly in the Canadiens’ favor in Game 3, Michel Therrien’s troops fully expect the Bruins to come out swinging on Thursday night in an effort to tie the series at two games apiece.
|RAW: Travis Moen|
“Upping our physicality was an important part of our game plan. It was our objective,” stressed Travis Moen, who played his second game in the series on Tuesday night. “I expect the Bruins to come out with the same intensity they always play with. They’re big and strong, and they put a lot of pucks on net. That’s the way they’ve always done things. We have to play 60 minutes if we want to win and we have to get off to a good start just like we have the last few games.”
“I know they’ll want to open things up physically. Each game is a little more physical and a little more difficult than the last. We don’t expect anything different in Game 4,” offered Gorges, who was the Canadiens’ second-most utilized player on Tuesday night behind P.K. Subban. “Game 4 is big for both teams. We expect them to come out hard.”
- Head coach Michel Therrien mixed things up in Game 3, slotting Brendan Gallagher on a line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty early in the opening frame in place of Thomas Vanek, who lined up alongside Tomas Plekanec and Michael Bournival on Tuesday night.
A workhorse in every sense of the word, Gallagher brings a new dimension to the Canadiens’ top line, one that demands that both Desharnais and Pacioretty make changes in their respective games as well.
“We have to work a little more with Brendan. He goes into the corners, so we have to support him some more,” offered Desharnais, who has one goal and three points in seven postseason tilts. “With Vanek, we’re more likely to focus on playmaking, but with Gally it’s more about keeping things simple. We’re making plays going to the net. It’s up to us to work harder with him.”
A fan of Gallagher’s grit at both ends of the rink, Desharnais insists both he and Pacioretty are up to the challenge of making the necessary modifications to ensure the line clicks against the Bruins come the start of Game 4.
“We have to support him in the corners. He works exceptionally hard,” explained Desharnais, who boasts one goal and five points in 17 career playoff games. “With Vanek, it’s about moving the puck and making small plays. With Brendan, it’s all about battling.”
- Alexei Emelin has been a thorn in the Bruins’ side in the first half of the series, dishing out 15 hits through three games. A force to be reckoned with in the physicality department, Emelin has steadily earned a great deal of respect from head coach Michel Therrien, who believes the three-year NHL veteran has been an impact player in his first postseason experience.
“He’s a very physical defenseman who plays with a lot of courage. He doesn’t pay attention to anyone he goes up against in the corners. He’s a player who brings a good physical presence on the back end. He’s been doing exceptional work,” praised Therrien, referencing the fact that Emelin currently sits tied for first on the team with 25 hits and leads the Canadiens with 27 blocked shots during the postseason.
“He’s someone who’s becoming increasingly comfortable with his teammates and coaches. That helps. It’s a completely normal process,” added Therrien. “I really like the way he’s been expressing himself on the ice.”
For his part, Emelin has thoroughly enjoyed taking part in a series against the archrival Bruins, one that has afforded him the opportunity to take on a player with whom he shares some rather poignant history in Milan Lucic.
“I don’t just play hard against Lucic. I play against every team and every player the same way,” confided Emelin, who, like the rest of his teammates expects the Bruins to try to set the tempo early on Thursday night. “We expect that, but I keep my focus on the game. I like the competition that comes with playing against the Bruins.”
- The Canadiens held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday afternoon in preparation for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
- Eighteen players took part in the practice session, including forwards Brendan Gallagher, Brandon Prust, Lars Eller, Dale Weise, Michael Bournival, Brian Gionta, David Desharnais, Travis Moen, George Parros, Max Pacioretty and Ryan White. Defensemen Francis Bouillon, Jarred Tinordi, P.K. Subban, Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver were also on the ice as were goaltenders Carey Price and Peter Budaj.
- The Bruins also practiced in Brossard on Wednesday. They skated on the secondary ice rink.