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POSTED ON Tuesday, 07.01.2014 / 11:20 AM

The Montreal Canadiens will have players representing Canada at the Olympics for the first time since Mark Recchi and Shayne Corson donned the Maple Leaf at the 1998 Games in Nagano. Reigning Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban and three-time All-Star Carey Price both received calls from Team Canada’s brass on Tuesday morning informing them that they had been named to the 25-man roster heading to Sochi. Both have previously skated for Canada internationally;

Subban won back-to-back gold medals at the World Juniors in 2008 and 2009 and participated in Canada’s final game at the 2013 World Championships last spring. Price is also the proud owner of a World Junior gold medal, having led Team Canada to the top of the podium in Sweden in 2007.

Subban is third among all NHL defensemen in 2013-14 with 33 points in 44 games so far this year, also boasting a stellar plus-14 differential.  The four-year NHL veteran is second in the league behind only Duncan Keith for power play points by a blue-liner, boasting three goals and 12 assists with the man advantage.

Currently second behind only Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury with 20 wins so far in 2013-14, Price has a .928 save percentage in 35 starts this season to go with two shutouts. His 988 saves to date are also second in the league to Mike Smith’s 1,002.

Longtime Habs equipment manager Pierre Gervais and Canadiens director of media relations Dominick Saillant will also join the Canadian contingent at the Olympics in February.

The big reveal
Budaj with Team Slovakia
Plekanec, captain of Czech Republic
Raphael Diaz with Swiss national team

POSTED ON Tuesday, 07.01.2014 / 10:50 AM

Defensemen Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin were both named to Team Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on Tuesday morning. Markov, 35, will be making his third consecutive Olympic appearance. The veteran rearguard has amassed one goal and five points in 12 career games at the Olympics. Emelin, meanwhile, will be an Olympian for the first time in his career. The 27-year-old most recently claimed gold for Russia at the World Hockey Championships in 2012.

POSTED ON Tuesday, 07.01.2014 / 9:38 AM

Peter Budaj was named to Team Slovakia’s 25-man roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on Tuesday morning. The 31-year-old netminder will be making his third consecutive appearance at the Olympic Games. Budaj holds a 2-1-0 record in three career Olympic outings, all of which came in 2006 in Turin. Goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Jan Laco were also named to Slovakia’s Olympic roster.

POSTED ON Monday, 06.01.2014 / 2:30 PM

Unsurprisingly, Tomas Plekanec has been named captain of the Czech Republic team at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games held in February. In Sochi, Russia, the veteran centerman will make his second Olympic appearance since debuting for his home country in Vancouver in 2010. There, Plekanec amassed two goals and one assist in five games, helping his side to a quarter-final berth. He becomes the third Hab to receive a coveted invitation to the Winter Games, after Max Pacioretty and Raphael Diaz were selected to represent the United States and Switzerland respectively.

POSTED ON Monday, 06.01.2014 / 12:27 PM

- The Canadiens held an optional skate on Monday morning in Brossard ahead of their tilt against the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre. This is the third of four games between these Atlantic division teams during the 2013-14 campaign. The Panthers beat the Canadiens in their two previous meetings with a 2-1 win at Bell Centre on Dec. 15 and a 4-1 home victory on Dec. 29.

- Sixteen skaters and both goaltenders took part in the on-ice session on Monday morning. The only players missing were Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty and Ryan White.

- With respect to White, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that the 25-year-old forward is expected to be sidelined for the next two weeks. White was injured on Jan. 2 in Dallas.

- Therrien also confirmed that the Canadiens’ lineup will remain unchanged on Monday night. Raphael Diaz will be a healthy scratch, while Daniel Briere will play alongside Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec. Briere registered two goals and three points on that line on Saturday night against Ottawa.

- The Canadiens might sit 15 points ahead of the Panthers in the Eastern Conference standings, but the Habs have yet to best the South Florida-based franchise in two meetings thus far this season. If the bleu-blanc-rouge has learned anything from their previous tilts against Peter Horachek’s club, it’s that the Panthers are far better than their record indicates.

“They’re not easy to play against at all. You’ve got to outwork them because that’s what they did to us the first two games and that’s why they won. It’s as simple as that. They’re a good team,” confided Lars Eller, who has 10 goals and 20 points on the year. “I think we owe it to ourselves to give it a better effort than the first two games against them. If we can match their effort or bring a better one than them, we’ve got a good chance to win. We’ve got to match their effort, especially in our building. We owe that to ourselves.”

- Raphael Diaz was named to Team Switzerland for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on Monday. The Canadiens rearguard will be sporting his nation’s colors on Olympic ice for the second time in his career, having previously donned the red and white in Vancouver in 2010.

“I’m very happy to be going to my second Olympics. In a month, we’ll fly over from here, and of course I’m really happy,” offered the 27-year-old, who became the second Habs player to earn a spot on an Olympic roster after Max Pacioretty was named to Team USA last week.

“It’s always a really good challenge," added Diaz. "It’s the tournament of all tournaments every four years. Of course you’re happy to compete there against the best players in the world.”

- With the formal announcement of Canada’s Olympic roster scheduled for Tuesday morning at 11 a.m., head coach Michel Therrien discussed the importance of his troops earning highly-coveted spots to compete for their countries at the Olympic Games.

“We want our players to experience things like that. I’m very happy that Raphy has a chance to go over there and represent his country. Tomorrow, big announcements will be made and I’m confident that like Pacioretty and Diaz, other guys will get a chance to participate in the Olympics,” underlined Therrien, whose Canadian ties have him rooting for several of his troops to potentially join Team Canada in Sochi. “I’m Canadian, so I’d really like to see Pricer there. I’m confident. It’s the same thing with P.K. Subban. I strongly believe that they both have a good chance to be there and I sincerely hope that it happens.”

- Carey Price should make his 35th start of the season on Monday night. Price holds a 5-4-1 record and a 1.88
goals-against average in 10 career appearances against the Panthers.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST.

Words From The Room - Jan. 6
Game preview: MTL vs. FLA
Gold diggers
Open house

POSTED ON Monday, 06.01.2014 / 11:16 AM

Raphael Diaz was named to Team Switzerland for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on Monday. The Canadiens rearguard will be sporting his nation’s colors on Olympic ice for the second time in his career, having previously donned the red and white in Vancouver in 2010.

“I’m very happy to be going to my second Olympics. In a month, we’ll fly over from here, and of course I’m really happy,” offered the 27-year-old, who became the second Habs player to earn a spot on an Olympic roster after Max Pacioretty was named to Team USA last week.

“It’s always a really good challenge," added Diaz. "It’s the tournament of all tournaments every four years. Of course you’re happy to compete there against the best players in the world.”

POSTED ON Sunday, 05.01.2014 / 1:36 PM

- The Canadiens took part in a rare Sunday morning skate as part of the Provigo Canadiens Fan Practice at the Bell Centre.

- Ryan White was the only player who didn’t take part in the practice after suffering an upper-body injury in Carolina on New Year’s Eve.

Lines at practice
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Gallagher
Gionta - Plekanec - Briere
Galchenyuk - Eller - Bourque
Bournival - Prust - Moen

POSTED ON Saturday, 04.01.2014 / 11:55 AM
BROSSARD - The Canadiens practiced Saturday morning at the Bell Sports Complex before taking on the Ottawa Senators later in the day.

A large contingent of loyal fans braved the cold to come see the Habs skate. It was the team’s first home practice since the Christmas vacation.

Absent were forwards Ryan White and George Parros. White suffered an upper-body injury in the team’s previous game against the Dallas Stars and is day-to-day, while Parros is still out with a concussion. After meeting with a concussion specialist in the U.S. in the past days, the prognosis seems to be positive in the case of the six-foot-five forward.

“[Parros] saw a specialist in Michigan and the outlook is good. Actually, he is still over there because he got caught in the big snow storm,” chuckled coach Michel Therrien. “There had been no setbacks in his case. He traveled with the team to Dallas and skated over there before meeting with the doctor in Michigan, it was all part of the plan.”

The rivalry between Ottawa and Montreal may not date back as far as the Habs’ classic feuds with Boston and Toronto, but the division revals’ recent confrontations did not lack in intensity. In addition, Saturday’s game will kick off a critical 17-games-in-35-days stretch before the Winter Olympics for the Canadiens.

“It’s a big month. We want to be looking up and chasing after first place in the division, instead of looking behind us and trying to keep a playoff spot,” remarked center Lars Eller. “Games like these are huge to keep teams like Ottawa behind us. I expect tonight to be a high-paced game. It doesn’t matter who’s hot or who’s struggling lately, it’s always close against Ottawa. With two good goalies, anything can happen.”

Eller also spoke about what it means to play at home for the first time in almost two week.

“It will feel good to be back in our own building, in front of our own fans. I’m looking forward to that,” the Dane added.

One player who will be in the line up is forward Daniel Briere, who was a healthy scratch on two occasions during the holiday road trip in southern United States. He centered a line composed of Travis Moen and Michael Bournival during the morning skate.

“For sure I am happy to be back in the line up. That’s what we train for. Whether you’re 18 or 36, it’s never easy to be scratched, and it’s always a great feeling to be on the ice,” offered Briere, who also gets a chance to play center after skating on the wing most of the season. “I always feel more at ease playing center, but that’s secondary. I’m just happy to be back in the line up.”

Following the morning skate, head coach Michel Therrien touched upon his priorities for the next 35 days.

“The schedule before the Olympics will be demanding for every team,” acknowledged the Habs’ bench boss. “The important thing will be to manage the energy levels of the players. We’ll have to make some adjustments when it comes to practice time, so that we can conserve more energy for games. Having talked to some other coaches across the league, it’s something that is a challenge for everyone. We showed some good consistency since the beginning of the season, and that will be a big factor in the stretch before the Olympics.”

Carey Price will make the start for the Habs, while defenseman Raphael Diaz will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season. The move allows Alexei Emelin to re-enter the line up.

“Diaz is sitting out simply because we have seven defensemen with NHL experience. A decision had to be made for tonight, and we decided that he would be missing the game,” explained Therrien.

Saturday morning, the team announced that center Tomas Plekanec will be awarded the Molson Cup for the month of December 2013 as the team's top performer.



Emelin- Markov
Murray- Gorges

Tomas Plekanec earns Molson Cup honour for December
Game preview: MTL vs. OTT

Stealing the show

POSTED ON Thursday, 02.01.2014 / 2:07 PM

- After a day off on Wednesday in Dallas, the Canadiens skated at the American Airlines Center on Thursday morning ahead of their tilt against the Stars.

- Thursday night’s game marks the second and final meeting between the Canadiens and Stars during the 2013-14 regular season campaign. The Habs won the first meeting 2-1 in Montreal on Oct. 29. This will be the Canadiens’ first visit to Dallas since Dec. 21, 2010.

RAW: Douglas Murray

- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Alexei Emelin will be a healthy scratch on Thursday night against the Stars. Douglas Murray, who missed the last three games as a healthy scratch himself, will take Emelin’s place in the lineup, and will likely play alongside Raphael Diaz.

“In Emelin’s case, both myself and Jean-Jacques [Daigneault] sat down with him and had a good discussion. He’s a guy that's trying to find himself right now. It’s our responsibility to bring him back to a level that he’s capable of playing at like last season. Often, after a major injury and missing some serious time, returning to full status can be difficult for certain players,” offered Therrien on the subject of the Russian rearguard, who spent the summer recovering from major knee surgery.

“We’re going to work with him on his conditioning, his execution, his skating, and the way that he reads the play. There are a lot of areas that need to be dealt with,” added the Habs bench boss, who will also sit Daniel Briere against the Stars in favor of Michael Bournival for the second straight game. “But, we have a lot of confidence in Emelin. It’s part of our responsibilities as coaches to gradually work on both his game and his confidence level.”

- The Canadiens will go up against a familiar face on Thursday night in Stars forward Erik Cole, who played 101 regular season games in bleu-blanc-rouge before being dealt to Dallas last year.

One player who enjoyed tremendous success alongside the power forward was Max Pacioretty, who scored a career-high 33 goals and 65 points while paired with Cole and David Desharnais during the 2011-12 campaign.

The newly minted Olympian is looking forward to matching up against his old teammate, who has been on a tear as of late with five goals in his last six games.

“I saw Colesy last night, and he told us that he had some injury trouble at the beginning of the year, but you know what type of player he is. He’s an honest, hard worker. We knew that he was going to break out like he is right now eventually,” confided Pacioretty. “He’s one of the hottest players in the league right now, so it will be fun matching up against him. Obviously, we know that he’s got size and speed, so we’ve got to take that away from him and hopefully we can do that.”

- Alex Galchenyuk might not have been selected to join Team USA in Sochi, but the NHL sophomore isn’t losing any sleep over it after hearing the news on Wednesday afternoon.

“It wasn’t hard to swallow in the first place. I’m 19 years old. Obviously, I was disappointed, but it’s not like I’m killing myself over it. What happened, happened, and I’m going to keep looking forward,” mentioned Galchenyuk, who has 10 goals and 23 points on the year.

- George Parros was the lone player that did not take part in the morning skate. The Canadiens confirmed that he left Dallas on Thursday morning to see a specialist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

- Carey Price could make his 33rd start of the season of Thursday night. Price has a 3-3-0 record and a 2.84
goals-against average in six games against the Stars over the course of his career.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. EST.

Lines and D pairings at practice:

Gionta – Plekanec – Bourque
Galchenyuk – Eller – Prust
Moen – White – Bournival
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Gallagher

Diaz – Murray
Gorges – Markov
Subban – Bouillon

Words From The Room - Jan. 2
Game preview: MTL @ DAL
A just reward
Number cruncher: Holiday savings

POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.01.2014 / 4:36 PM

Team USA’s roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics was revealed on Wednesday afternoon, and Max Pacioretty is among the players headed to Sochi come February.

The New Canaan, CT native will take part in the Olympics for the first time. Pacioretty previously represented the United States internationally on two occasions, sporting the red, white and blue at the World Junior Hockey Championships in 2008 and the World Hockey Championships in 2012. The 25-year-old led Team USA in scoring in 2012, registering two goals and 10 assists in eight games.

The 2012 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy winner is in the midst of a career season, leading the Canadiens with 17 goals on the year.

Pacioretty will join a squad led by Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma.