- The Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning in preparation for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The series gets underway on Friday night at the Bell Centre.
- After missing Wednesday’s practice due to family reasons, defenseman Sergei Gonchar was back for Thursday’s on-ice session.
- Prior to the start of practice, the Canadiens worked on both the power play and penalty kill. The Habs struggled on special teams in Round 1, particularly with the man advantage, going 1-for-20 over the course of the six games they played against the Ottawa Senators. Therrien tweaked his power play somewhat, featuring P.K. Subban alongside Jeff Petry and Andrei Markov with Tom Gilbert at the blue line.
- Following practice, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu hit the ice with strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard and athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine. You'll recall that Beaulieu will miss the first four games of the series against Tampa Bay with an upper-body injury.
- For their part, the Lightning will arrive in Montreal later in the day after securing their series-clinching victory on Wednesday night in Tampa.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
De La Rose–Mitchell–Smith-Pelly
- After a two-day break, the Canadiens returned to practice on Wednesday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard to begin preparing for Round 2 of the playoffs, which will get underway on Friday night at the Bell Centre. The Habs’ opponent will be determined on Wednesday night as the Tampa Bay Lightning play host to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series at Amalie Arena.
- Prior to the start of practice, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu hit the ice with athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine. Beaulieu skated for approximately 30 minutes. The Strathroy, ON native hasn’t played since Game 3 against Ottawa on April 19. He has been sidelined with an upper-body injury.
- In his post-practice press conference, general manager Marc Bergevin confirmed that Beaulieu will miss at least the first four games in Round 2. He will then be re-evaluated to determine when he’ll be able to return to active duty. Bergevin also discussed his team’s performance in Round 1, in addition to addressing the play of his team’s defense corps.
- Defenseman Sergei Gonchar did not take part in Wednesday’s on-ice session. He missed practice due to family reasons.
- Zachary Fucale and the Quebec Remparts advanced to the QMJHL Finals on Tuesday night, downing the Moncton Wildcats 7-0 to sweep the series. The Remparts await the winner of the series between Rimouski and Val d’Or. You’ll recall that Fucale is assured of participating in the Memorial Cup as Quebec plays host to the tournament from May 21-31 at the Colisee Pepsi.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
De La Rose-Mitchell-Smith-Pelly
- The Canadiens held an earlier morning skate than usual at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata on Sunday ahead of their 6:00 p.m. game against the Senators. Dale Weise was the only player not on the ice for practice (therapy day).
- P-A Parenteau will return to action on Sunday night after missing the last four games. He sustained an upper body injury in Game 1 of the series and was a healthy scratch for Games 4 and 5. Michel Therrien did not confirm who Parenteau would be replacing in the lineup, but the 32-year-old winger knows no matter who he’s skating with, he’ll be counted on to bolster an offense that has managed just 10 goals through five playoff games thus far.
|Parenteau will be back in action on Sunday night.|
“I was patient and just wanted to be positive and stay with my teammates. I did that, and now it’s my chance to hop into the lineup tonight to help close the series,” explained Parenteau, who has three points in eight career postseason games. “I’m really excited for that. I think I’m known for my offense so I can help the team in that area. The team has been playing really well in these playoffs, so I was just waiting for my turn.”
While he refused to reveal his final lineup ahead of Game 6, Therrien was clear on what he expects to see from Parenteau on Sunday night.
“When he’s on the top of his game he’s got poise and he can help on the power play,” said Therrien, whose powerplay has connected just once on 19 opportunities so far in the postseason. “He can make good plays and he’s responsible at both ends of the ice.”
- In the three games he’s played since coming in to relieve Andrew Hammond between the pipes, Craig Anderson has stopped 120 of the 123 shots he’s faced, giving him an NHL-leading .976 save percentage in the first round. No stranger to staking himself out in the blue paint to help light the lamp, Brendan Gallagher doesn’t expect to be the only Hab finding himself inside Anderson’s personal space when the puck drops on Sunday night.
“Pucks haven’t been going in and it hasn’t been for a lack of effort or scoring chances, but we have to find ways to beat him,” described Gallagher, who is still searching for his first goal of the 2015 postseason. “He’s an experienced guy, he’s been around a lot, he’s feeling pretty confident and he’s feeling pretty good about himself right now, so it’s just getting as many pucks around him as possible and playing the odds. They’re doing a good job of pushing the rules and trying to box us out as early as possible, but it’s going to be important for us to get inside and continue to battle. It’s playoff hockey; it’s not going to be easy.”
Words from the room
Game preview: Canadiens @ Senators – Game 6
Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #6
The Canadiens did not practice on Saturday. A few players and head coach Michel Therrien were made available to the media before the team left for Ottawa.
Therrien did not confirm any lineup changes ahead of Game 6.
The Habs will practice on Sunday morning at the Canadian Tire Centre in preparation for their game later that night. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. in the nation’s capital.
- 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