- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday in preparation for their tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre. Jon Cooper’s contingent is two points back of the Canadiens, who currently sit atop the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference standings with 90 points. The Lightning have won three straight games.
- Defenseman Alexei Emelin took part in Tuesday’s on-ice session alongside his teammates. He will not, however, suit up against the Lightning. That was confirmed by head coach Michel Therrien at practice on Monday.
- The Lightning enter Tuesday night’s contest as the League’s highest scoring team with 222 goals in 68 games. For their part, the Canadiens sit atop the League on the defensive side of things, allowing just 146 goals thus far during the 2014-15 campaign. That has everything to do with the outstanding play of Carey Price, who has been a veritable wall all season long. With that in mind, what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We’ll find out come 7:30 p.m. EST. The Lightning have been the better of the two squads through two games, lighting the lamp 11 times, while conceding just three markers. But, P.K. Subban insists the Canadiens’ defense corps is up to the challenge that awaits them at the Bell Centre.
“We have to be solid defensively every game,” offered Subban, who, along with partner Andrei Markov, have blocked a combined 252 shots this season. “When you look around the League, you see that not a lot of goals are being scored these days. Take a look at how the League is developing right now, the focus is on the defensive side of things. You need to be solid defensively to give yourself a chance to win. Games are too close and the teams are too good, regardless of where they sit in the standings. This will be a good defensive test for us, especially against a team that scores as much as the Lightning do.”
With four 20-plus goal scorers on the roster, the Canadiens will have their hands full trying to slow down a Lightning squad with players like Steven Stamkos in the fold. Stamkos registered a hat trick in the first meeting of the year between the two clubs on October 13. The Lightning captain aside, the Canadiens will also have to key in on several other offensive threats both up front and on the back end.
“Whether it’s Steven or guys like Crosby, Malkin or Ovechkin, it’s a challenge every night. This League is really good and you can’t focus on just one player on every team. Even fourth line guys can make you pay if you’re not ready. But, it’s definitely a challenge playing a guy like that,” stressed Subban. “It’s my job to make sure that he doesn’t have a good night.”
- While the Canadiens and the Lightning haven’t seen one another often during the 2014-15 campaign, you get the sense that these two Eastern Conference powerhouses don’t necessarily enjoy each other’s company. That likely stems from last year’s opening-round playoff matchup, and it clearly carried over into the regular season.
“It’s not a physical matchup like we have with Boston. Definitely the teams are starting to build a hatred for each other,” confirmed Dale Weise, who has one goal and two points in five career regular season games against the Lightning. “We haven’t played each other in a while. They’ve embarrassed us twice. We’ve got a hatred for them now.”
The Canadiens will have to keep that so called “hatred” under control, however, as penalty trouble ultimately burned the CH the last time the two teams met in early January. Fortunately, Weise believes his squad has demonstrated significant improvement in that department over the last eight weeks.
“I think the biggest thing, if you look at that game, is our discipline. We were playing a good game there. We took a couple of penalties. That kind of gave them the game there. So, it’s our discipline and our consistency that’s different,” confided Weise, who ranks third on the team with 124 hits in 63 games. “I think we know what to expect from our club every night. It’s not about which Montreal Canadiens team is going to show up. I think we know what kind of team is going to show up against Tampa. We’ll see which team wins.”
- Carey Price will make his 54th start of the season for the Canadiens. He boasts a 10-9-4 record, a 2.51 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 23 career regular season outings against the Lightning. Ben Bishop should get the start for Tampa Bay.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
Projected lineup against the Lightning:
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Weise
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Eller – De La Rose – Smith-Pelly
Prust – Mitchell – Flynn
BROSSARD – The Canadiens were back at the Bell Sports Complex on Monday, practicing in Brossard for the first time since February 28. The Habs returned from a four-game, eight-day west coast road trip on Sunday with three of a possible eight points in the bank. Montreal now gets set to host the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.
- Acquired at the NHL trade deadline a week ago while the team was in San Jose, newcomers Jeff Petry, Brian Flynn and Torrey Mitchell all skated at the Canadiens’ south shore practice facility for the first time on Monday.
- Sidelined with an upper body injury suffered in Ottawa on February 18, Alexei Emelin was back on the Bell Sports Complex ice after having also made the trip out west with the Habs. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed following practice that while Emelin will not be in uniform on Tuesday, the 28-year-old defenseman is very close to a return and is considered day-to-day.
OFFENSIVE LINES AND DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS AT PRACTICE
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Eller – De La Rose – Smith-Pelly
Pacioretty – Desharnais - Weise
Prust –Mitchell – Flynn
Parenteau – Malhotra
Gilbert – Petry
Beaulieu – Gonchar
Subban - Markov
Weaver - Emelin
- The Canadiens held their first full practice session featuring all three newcomers on Friday afternoon, as Torrey Mitchell, Brian Flynn and Jeff Petry hit the ice at Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ alongside the rest of their teammates. Michel Therrien’s troops skated for about 40 minutes.
- The Canadiens’ bench boss confirmed that Carey Price would get the start in goal on Saturday night against the Coyotes, and that Sergei Gonchar would take Mike Weaver’s spot in the lineup on defense.
- While rearguard Alexei Emelin is inching closer to a return to active duty, he hasn’t yet been given the green light.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Eller-De La Rose-Smith-Pelly
- After a day off on Tuesday, the Canadiens held a morning skate at the Honda Center on Wednesday in preparation for their tilt against the Anaheim Ducks. While Michel Therrien’s troops are coming off a 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim is riding a three-game winning streak. Their latest victory came on Tuesday night as the Ducks downed the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 in Glendale.
- Newcomers Torrey Mitchell, Brian Flynn and Jeff Petry took part in their first practice as members of the Canadiens after being acquired on Monday. Petry did, however, suit up in the Habs’ last outing earlier in the week in Northern California, logging over 18 minutes of ice time on the back end.
- The Canadiens’ bench boss spent a significant amount of time working with Flynn and Mitchell at practice, doing everything possible to ease them into the team’s system. Therrien featured the pair on a line with Brandon Prust. That trio will remain intact to start the game against Anaheim.
“Prust is a good player. Everyone here plays pretty fast. It seems like they keep things fast and simple. Hopefully, Torrey and I can get in on the forecheck and cause some turnovers,” offered Flynn, who will center the Canadiens’ fourth line. “I think that helps a lot to be playing with Torrey, too. We played maybe 20 games or so together in the middle of the year in Buffalo before he got injured. We’re really familiar with each other. I think we play pretty similar. It’s easy to read off each other. We’re both used to playing wing and center, so when it comes to faceoffs and things like that we’re on the same page.”
It should come as no surprise that the pair can’t wait to don the CH for the first time. Both Flynn and Mitchell were all smiles following the morning skate.
“I’m a little bit nervous, but I think that’s a good thing. It means I’m excited,” confided Flynn, who put up five goals and 17 points in 54 games with the Sabres in 2014-15 before being dealt to Montreal. “I’m excited to put the jersey on and just get back to playing hockey.”
Mitchell shared similar thoughts ahead of Wednesday night’s contest in Orange County.
“This is the team that I’ve always dreamed of playing for, so there’s a lot of emotion,” mentioned Mitchell. “I’m very excited for tonight.”
- Wednesday night’s game will also be a special one for Devante Smith-Pelly, who will battle his former team for the first time since joining the Canadiens back on February 24. Smith-Pelly spent three-plus seasons in Anaheim before moving on to his new hockey home.
“It’s a little different, obviously. But at the same time, I’m excited. I’m looking forward to playing against guys that I haven’t ever played against before,” offered Smith-Pelly, who is still looking for his first point as a member of the Canadiens. “It will be a little weird, but at the same time it will be a lot of fun.”
- Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens. It will be his 52nd start of the season. Price holds a 1-3-1 record, a .901 save percentage and a 2.83 goals-against average in six career appearances against Anaheim. The Ducks will likely counter with John Gibson between the pipes.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 10 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet and RDS.
Projected lineup vs. Anaheim:
Eller–De La Rose–Smith-Pelly
- The Canadiens held a morning skate at the SAP Center in San Jose on Monday ahead of their tilt against the Sharks. Michel Therrien’s troops will be looking to register their fifth straight victory, while the Sharks are currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak.
- Twenty-two players took part in the morning skate, including Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau who confirmed that he would be in the lineup against the Sharks. Parenteau has missed the last 19 games with a concussion.
- Alexei Emelin also skated alongside his teammates for the first time since sustaining an injury back on February 18. He has missed the last five games. Following practice, the Russian defenseman remained on the ice for approximately 20 minutes for some extra work.
- Defenseman Jeff Petry will join the team in San Jose on Monday afternoon after being acquired from the Edmonton Oilers prior to the NHL trade deadline. He will sport No. 26 for the Canadiens. The Oilers received a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft in return for the American rearguard. He should arrive in Northern California at around 4 p.m. PST / 7 p.m. EST.
- For his part, forward Brian Flynn will join the team on Tuesday in Santa Monica. He was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Flynn will wear No. 32 for the Canadiens.
- Prior to the start of the morning skate, defenseman Greg Pateryn was sent down to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Following practice, it was also announced that forward Michael Bournival was also Hamilton-bound.
- P.K. Subban was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week on Monday. Subban led the League with five assists and shared the League lead with six points during that span.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 10 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
- The Canadiens held a morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday ahead of their tilt against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
- Defenseman Alexei Emelin skated alone prior to the start of practice under the supervision of athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine, taking part in a number of light on-ice workouts, while also testing his shot. The 28-year-old rearguard has been sidelined with an upper body injury since taking an awkward hit into the boards on February 18 in Ottawa. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed however that Emelin will travel with the team to California on Sunday.
- Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau practiced alongside his teammates for the entirety of Saturday’s morning skate. The 31-year-old forward has been cleared to play since missing the last 18 games with a concussion suffered on January 15 in Ottawa, although he will not be in uniform against the visiting Maple Leafs.
- Sergei Gonchar returns to the lineup on Saturday after missing the last six games with an upper body injury suffered the last time Toronto was in town, taking a hit from behind from since-departed Maple Leafs forward David Clarkson on February 14.
“I’m playing tonight. I’ve been feeling better and better, our medical staff has done a great job of preparing me, and that’s why I’m ready to go,” confirmed the 40-year-old D-man who will be paired with recent call-up Greg Pateryn opposite the Leafs after previously mentoring another young teammate in Nathan Beaulieu on the blue line. “It’s strange [to be making my return against Toronto], but sometimes things work out that way.”
Gonchar’s return also comes with less than 25 games remaining on the 2014-15 regular season schedule, although the seasoned vet insists he’s comfortable with the timing.
“It can be harder to come back towards the end of the year, when teams are playing at a higher level and competing for a playoff spot, but I’ve been around for over 20 years so I know what to expect.”
- After registering a team-high four hits in his Canadiens debut during Thursday’s 5-2 win in Columbus, forward Devante Smith-Pelly now gets set to step onto the Bell Centre ice for the first time on Saturday.
“I’m excited. It’s a special building to play in and for my first game to be against the Leafs makes it even more so,” admitted the 22-year-old Toronto-native. “I’m happy to have my family coming in to town and I’m looking to have some fun tonight. I already played them twice this season [in Anaheim], but these are the games I watched growing up. It’s going to be special and I’m excited.”
Eager to get acquainted with his new teammates and coaches, the Habs newcomer has nevertheless taken part in just a pair of practices since being traded to Montreal in exchange for rookie forward Jiri Sekac on Tuesday.
“I went over video and spoke with the coaches to make sure that I know the system,” acknowledged Smith-Pelly, who was also in Brossard on Friday during the team’s day off. “That’s helped me get it a little bit more but at the end of the day it’s still hockey, so a big part of it will be reading and reacting.”
Tested on a pair of lines against the Blue Jackets most recently meanwhile, the six-foot, 220-pound winger continues to make strides while easing into his new role with the Habs.
“It was good. Prusty [Brandon Prust] and Rosey [Jacob De La Rose] like to get it deep and grind it out, which is the way I play as well,” added Smith-Pelly. “With Gally [Brendan Gallagher] and Pleky [Tomas Plekanec] it was a little different – two highly skilled guys – but that’s just going to take some getting used to. By playing together we’ll figure it out.”
- With the NHL trade deadline fast approaching, Therrien suggested that the prospect of another trade has not brought any additional stress into the Canadiens dressing room heading into Monday.
“I don’t think guys are nervous. There’s chemistry in our room and the group is united. The guys enjoy coming to work every day and working hard,” underlined the Habs bench boss, who will close out the month of February atop the Atlantic Division, and possibly the Eastern Conference as well. “That’s true not only for practices, but also for games, which is even more important. Honestly, I don’t think anything has changed within our group. We’re having fun together.”
Forward Christian Thomas was assigned to the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday afternoon.
Called up for a second stint in Montreal on January 25, Thomas has now played a total of 18 games with the Canadiens in 2014-15, notably scoring his first NHL goal on February 12 against Edmonton.
In 31 games with the Bulldogs this season, the 22-year-old winger has registered nine goals -- including two power play markers -- in addition to six assists.
Thomas should join the Bulldogs in time for this weekend's games against the Charlotte Checkers and Utica Comets on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, although he will not be in uniform on Friday.
Defenseman Jarred Tinordi was assigned to the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday morning.
Called up on February 18, Tinordi played four games with the Canadiens during his second stint in Montreal since the start of the season, registering 12 penalty minutes and one shot on goal.
In 35 games with the Bulldogs in 2014-15, the 23-year-old rearguard has picked up seven points (1G-6A-7PTS) and 34 penalty minutes along with a plus-8 differential.
- The Canadiens held an optional skate at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Thursday morning ahead of their tilt against the Blue Jackets.
|Devante Smith-Pelly at practice in Columbus on Thursday.
- After arriving in Columbus on Wednesday night, Devante Smith-Pelly took part in his first practice alongside his new teammates. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Smith-Pelly would be in the lineup on Thursday night and play right-wing. He did not, however, indicate what line Smith-Pelly would be featured on. Christian Thomas will be a healthy scratch to make room for Smith-Pelly to debut against the Blue Jackets.
- Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens. It will be his 49th start of the season. Curtis McElhinney should get the call between the pipes for the Blue Jackets.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet East and RDS.
- After securing a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night at Scottrade Center, the Canadiens practiced at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Wednesday afternoon. Michel Therrien’s troops will battle the Blue Jackets on Thursday night before returning to Montreal.
- Defenseman Andrei Markov was given the day off from practice. The veteran rearguard took part in off-ice workouts instead.
- Devante Smith-Pelly didn’t make it to Columbus in time to participate in Wednesday’s on-ice session. He should arrive in Ohio sometime this evening, and he is scheduled to be at the morning skate on Thursday. Therrien said that he will meet with Smith-Pelly upon his arrival in Columbus, and that the 22-year-old winger should play versus the Blue Jackets.
- Following practice, the Canadiens’ bench boss confirmed that Sergei Gonchar and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau will not take part in Thursday night’s game. He also confirmed that Carey Price will get the start in goal against the Blue Jackets.
Forward lines and defensive pairings at practice:
Prust-De La Rose-Weise