- The Canadiens held a morning practice on Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY a couple of hours before facing the Islanders in the team’s final game before the Christmas break.
- Coming off a 79-point, 26th-place, 2013-14 season, the Islanders are one of the NHL’s early surprises so far this year, currently ranked second in the East with 46 points – two more than the Canadiens. Tuesday marks the first of three games between the two teams this season after the Canadiens won the season series over the Isles 2-1 a year ago.
“I’m not surprised by their success. They’ve been rebuilding over the last couple of years now with quality players like John Tavares and Kyle Okposo,” admitted P.-A. Parenteau, who played two seasons in Uniondale between 2010-2012. “They’ve also added an excellent goalie in Jaroslav Halak which makes a huge difference, as well as two excellent defensemen right before the start of training camp. They’re a good team and we’ll need to be ready tonight.”
Coming off a veteran shopping spree over the summer to bolster a young core, the Islanders have seen the team's offseason moves pay off.
“They have so much talent that you knew it was only a matter of time they'd have success,” agreed Max Pacioretty, who registered one goal in three games against the Islanders a season ago. “Now they’ve got a great couple of goalies with some help on the back end and I think that’s really jump started their team and a big reason behind their success this year. They know how to put pucks in the back of the net and I think that starts with a good defense. They’re playing more in the offensive zone, and the best way to do that is with good defense and having your D-men join the rush.”
- Following Tuesday’s game, the Canadiens will enjoy a short three-day break before reporting to Brossard on Saturday. With rest just hours away, the team was nevertheless focused on heading into the holidays with momentum in tow.
“Although our record is good at the moment, we want to finish strong before Christmas and have clear heads over the holidays. The best way for us to do that is with a win,” acknowledged David Desharnais, who has scored four points over the last four games. “It’s hard to not think ahead after being at home for two weeks and then playing this game right before Christmas, but it’s part of our job and we’ll focus on doing our best during our three hours on the ice tonight.”
With just eight wins on the road this season, a win in Long Island could go a long way in ensuring a happy holiday season for the Habs.
“Obviously it’s the last game before the break so it would be nice to finish with a bit of confidence and momentum from a road win,” explained Pacioretty. “We know it’s a different ballgame when we’re at home versus when we’re on the road, and we have to find a way to have success on the road. This will be a great start and hopefully we can get off on the right foot.”
- Carey Price will be back in goal on Tuesday, making his 29th start of the season and tenth in a row since December 1. In 15 career outings opposite the Islanders, Price has registered a 7-3-0-3 record with a 2.74 GAA. On the other end of the ice, Chad Johnson will get his tenth start of the season for the Islanders and second career start against the Habs -- his first coming a year ago with the Bruins.
“I’m surprised that it’s not Halak tonight, but I don’t see that as an advantage for us. You can’t see things that way with everything that can happen during a hockey game,” added Parenteau. “I played with Chad a bit in the minors and I know he’s a good goalie that we can’t take lightly.”
- Following the morning skate, Michel Therrien confirmed that no changes will be made to the roster, meaning that Mike Weaver, Michael Bournival and Bryan Allen will once again be the evening’s scratches.
- A 7:00 p.m. puck drop is scheduled on Tuesday in Long Island.
- After a day off on Sunday, the Canadiens hit the ice on Monday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard before boarding the team charter bound for Long Island. Michel Therrien’s troops will battle the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
- Hundreds of fans turned out at the Bell Sports Complex to take in Monday’s skate before the team hit the road for an extended period of time. The Canadiens will play their next five games away from the friendly confines of the Bell Centre, returning to action in Montreal on January 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- After a two-game conditioning stint with the Hamilton Bulldogs, goaltender Dustin Tokarski was back at practice on Monday. Tokarski posted a 1-1 record during his time with the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate, turning aside 29 of 31 shots against in the Bulldogs’ 5-2 win over the Texas Stars on Sunday.
- Michael Bournival rotated with Sven Andrighetto on the Canadiens’ fourth line at practice on Monday, a trio that also featured Manny Malhotra and Dale Weise. For his part, Brandon Prust was paired Tomas Plekanec and Jiri Sekac.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate on Saturday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard ahead of their tilt against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre.
- After being the victim of a dangerous hit in Thursday night’s contest against the Anaheim Ducks and staying off the ice on Friday, Max Pacioretty took part in the morning skate alongside his teammates. While his playing status will be determined following the pre-game warm-up, the Canadiens’ leading scorer explained that the injury looked far worse than it actually was.
“It was very minor. I feel really good right now. I think maybe people heard the word “hospital” and they assumed the worst,” offered Pacioretty, who is no stranger to playing through injuries and pain. “Whenever someone gets injured, they have to get tests. At that time of night, the only thing open is the hospital. I don’t want it to be blown out of proportion. I feel really good. I’ve had this happen to me before. It’s actually the same thing as what happened in Carolina last year.”
As for Pacioretty’s thoughts on the hit itself, the 26-year-old elected to take the high road on Saturday morning, focusing instead on making certain he’d be good to go against the Sens.
“Two days removed from the incident, I don’t think it does any good by talking to it. I trust peoples’ intentions in this league, so I’m not going to put anyone down,” mentioned Pacioretty, referencing Anaheim Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner. “At the end of the day, I’m just worried about trying to feel as good as I can. Hopefully I’ll be able to play and contribute.”
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that forward Sven Andrighetto will be in the lineup against Ottawa on Saturday night. Andrighetto was recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday evening. He boasts two goals and three points in four games with the Canadiens this season.
- Therrien also confirmed that defenseman Mike Weaver has received the green light to play. Weaver hasn’t suited up since sustaining a concussion on December 6 in Dallas. There will be no lineup changes, however, on the Canadiens’ blue line on Saturday night.
- Lars Eller returns to active duty on Saturday night after being sidelined with an upper-body injury sustained on December 5 in Chicago. He will center a line with David Desharnais and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau.
“One thing we always want to make sure of when players come back from injury is that they’re 100 percent healthy. Lars is 100 percent. There’s no setback,” confirmed Therrien, who was deprived of Eller’s services for the last five games. “I’m not expecting him to change his game. We expect that he’s going to be the same player.”
The Canadiens’ bench boss shared similar expectations for Desharnais, who will be playing wing for the first time in years on Saturday night.
“It doesn’t change his game at all. Honestly, I know some people think there’s some controversy regarding that. There is none. We just moved him about 15 feet in the defensive zone. The rest of the game, you just play it,” stressed Therrien. “When you go into the offensive zone, you play the game. Whenever you’re a centerman or a left-winger, if you’re in the slot, you shoot the puck. We’re not the only team that’s capable of doing that. You look at Pittsburgh and that time [Evgeni] Malkin was playing right wing. It’s not a big deal.”
- The Canadiens and the Senators will clash for the first time this season on Saturday night. Last year, three of the five matchups between the two teams were decided in overtime, the majority of which were high-scoring, spirited affairs. Brendan Gallagher doesn’t expect anything different in the Habs’ final home game of the calendar year.
“They’ve gone through a lot with the coaching change. They’ve been playing really well since that happened. They’re a team that we know really well from going up against them in the playoffs,” offered Gallagher, whose squad will go up against a Senators contingent that has rattled off two straight wins, including a 6-2 victory over the Ducks on Friday night in Ottawa. “There are a lot of the same guys over there, so any time we play them we know that there’s plenty of intensity and that sense of rivalry.”
- The Senators are 3-1-1 since Dave Cameron took over the head coaching duties on December 8.
- Carey Price will make his 28th start of the season for the Canadiens. Price boasts a 16-6-4 record, a 2.35 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 28 career appearances against Ottawa. Robin Lehner will be between the pipes for Ottawa.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game can be seen on TVA and CITY TV.
Game Preview: Senators @ Canadiens
24CH now available via Club 1909
The sky's the limit
Canadiens sign third round pick Brett Lernout to a three-year contract
MacDonald boasts a 6-4-3 record in 13 games played for the Bulldogs this season, along with a 2.80 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. He will sport No. 39 in Montreal.
For his part, Andrighetto rejoins Michel Therrien’s troops after being reassigned to Hamilton on December 17. The Swiss forward put up two goals and three points in four games with the Canadiens in 2014-15, while also posting a plus-2 differential. He also has nine goals and 18 points in 21 games with the Bulldogs.
- Following a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night, the Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday afternoon in preparation for their final home game of the calendar year against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
- The Canadiens assigned goaltender Dustin Tokarski to the Hamilton Bulldogs for conditioning purposes (2 games) on Friday. He could see action against St. John’s on Friday night and Texas on Sunday. Forward Eric Tangradi is also Hamilton-bound.
- In Tokarski’s absence, McGill University goaltender Jacob Gervais-Chouinard tended goal opposite Carey Price on Friday.
- After suffering an upper-body injury on Thursday night against Anaheim, Max Pacioretty did not take part in Friday’s on-ice session. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Pacioretty is listed as day-to-day.
- Therrien featured David Desharnais at left-wing on a line with Lars Eller and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau on Friday. That line will remain intact for the game against the Senators. It will be Eller’s first game with the Canadiens since being injured on December 5 in Chicago.
- Canadiens goaltending prospect Zachary Fucale has been traded from the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads to the Quebec Remparts in exchange for two first-round draft picks (2016, 2018), a pair of second-and third-round picks in 2016 and 2018, respectively, in addition to netminder Eric Brassard.
Forward lines at practice:
Canadiens goaltending prospect Zachary Fucale has been traded from the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads to the Quebec Remparts in exchange for two first-round draft picks (2016, 2018), a pair of second- and third-round picks in 2016 and 2018, respectively, in addition to netminder Eric Brassard.
The Habs’ 36th overall pick from 2013 will have the chance to win a second Memorial Cup this spring when the Remparts host the annual CHL tournament in the provincial capital. The 19-year-old Rosemere, QC native won the trophy previously in 2013 with the Mooseheads.
Fucale will represent Canada in goal at the IIHF World Junior Championship beginning next week in Montreal and Toronto, alongside Winnipeg Jets prospect Eric Comrie.
In four seasons with the Mooseheads, Fucale has registered 126 wins over 187 games played. He currently sits 17 wins shy of breaking Jacques Cloutier’s record for all-time regular season wins in the QMJHL.
Tokarski has played seven games with the Canadiens this season, posting a 3-2-1 record, a 2.44 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. His last start dates back to November 29 against the Buffalo Sabres. The netminder could see action against St. John's on Friday night and Texas on Sunday, with both games taking place in Hamilton.
For his part, Tangradi has taken part in seven games with the Canadiens in 2014-15, amassing 17 penalty minutes along the way.
- The Canadiens held an optional pregame skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard ahead of Thursday night's game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Bell Centre.
- In total, 14 players hit the ice, including Mike Weaver, Bryan Allen and Lars Eller. While Weaver and Allen are not yet ready to return to the lineup, Eller for his part will be a game-time decision. All three stayed out on the ice following the end of practice.
- The Habs will honor former captain Saku Koivu during a special pregame ceremony ahead of Thursday's game against the Ducks. Brendan Gallagher, who currently wears number 11 for the club is aware of its significance.
"When you wear the 11, you try to represent it as best as you can because that's what he always did. I remember when I was growing up watching him, he was a heart and soul guy who showed up every night and played for his teammates," offered Gallagher, who was just 16-years-old when Koivu left the Canadiens. "He was a very good person as well and he definitely represented the Canadiens organization as well as anyone before him. On a night when Saku Koivu is being honored, I'm going to try to represent the number 11 as best as I can."
Just like with the games dedicated to Guy Lapointe and Mr. Jean Béliveau, meanwhile, the 22-year-old forward expects emotions to be running high once again on Thursday.
"The ceremony should give us a little bit of a boost and we'll be energized, but they'll be the same way," admitted Gallagher. "A lot of guys over there played with him and they should be excited as well. It'll be a fun game to watch and a fun game to play in so hopefully we come out on top.
- Brandon Prust should join new linemates David Desharnais and P.A. Parenteau for a third straight game on Thursday. Since head coach Michel Therrien shuffled his lines, the trio have combined for seven points in two games, registering a pair of goals and five assists.
"They're playing really well right now. Davey was flying out there last game and I was just trying to keep up with him. Him and P.A. are making great plays and they're fun to play with so for me it's just about keeping my feet moving, getting in on the forecheck, and getting them the puck as much as I can," explained Prust, who reached the 400 games-played milestone on Friday against L.A. "It's fun to play and get lots of scoring chances while buzzing around the offensive zone but I've still got to stick to my strengths. That's making sure that I'm playing well defensively, eliminating my turnovers, getting pucks deep, and creating some energy and space for those guys."
- After passing a pair of tough tests against the Kings and the Canucks a week ago, the Canadiens now get set to face the NHL's top team, ranked first overall with 47 points in 33 games played so far this season.
"We're going to have to play really well. They're a team that knows how to win hockey games. They come at you with a lot of depth, and a lot of very good players up front," underlined Brendan Gallagher following practice. "We need to do what we do any time we play well. We have to focus on our transition game and getting on the forecheck. When we do those things, everything else just kind of comes from it and we're able to get off to a good start, which is something we're trying to do more often. We're going to see what we can do to get the crowd involved because we know there's going to be a lot of energy after the ceremony."
MONTREAL - The Montreal Canadiens assigned forward Sven Andrighetto to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Wednesday. In four games with the Canadiens beginning December 6 in Dallas, Andrighetto registered two goals and one assist.
- After securing their third straight victory on Tuesday night, the Canadiens were back at practice on Wednesday afternoon at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. Michel Therrien’s troops will be back in action on Thursday night against the Anaheim Ducks at the Bell Centre.
- All players were present and accounted for at practice, including Lars Eller, Bryan Allen and Mike Weaver, all of whom were sidelined as of late. Eller practiced alongside his teammates for the first time since sustaining a shoulder injury back on December 5 in Chicago. Following practice, Weaver confirmed that he has been cleared for contact after suffering a concussion back on December 6 in Dallas.
- In his post-practice press conference, Therrien indicated that Eller and Weaver’s medical conditions will continue to be evaluated, but their expected return dates have not been confirmed as of yet.
- The Canadiens worked on special teams play before practice got underway. Assistant coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault led the drills. For his part, goaltending coach Stephane Waite worked with Carey Price and Dustin Tokarski at the other end of the rink. Tokarski was sporting a white mask at practice. It did not feature any design.
- Dale Weise was featured on a line with Jiri Sekac and Tomas Plekanec, while Eric Tangradi rotated on two different trios, skating first with Manny Malhotra and Michael Bournival, and then moving on to the line of Lars Eller and Sven Andrighetto.
- A press conference featuring Saku Koivu will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday at the Bell Centre. There will also be a pre-game ceremony to celebrate his career prior to the tilt against the Ducks.
Lines and D pairings at practice: