- The Canadiens held an optional skate on Thursday morning ahead of their tilt against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre. Thirteen players hit the ice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, including goaltenders Mike Condon and Zachary Fucale.
- Forward Michael Bournival cleared waivers on Thursday. He can now be assigned to the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps.
- The Capitals’ most lethal forward since being drafted in 2004, Alex Ovechkin remains a constant threat on offense, specifically when he goes up against the Canadiens. The Russian superstar boasts 38 points in 36 career games against the CH. This year, Washington’s No. 8 has amassed at least one point per game, registering 12 goals and 22 points in as many outings.
“I grew up in Moscow playing for the same team he did,” mentioned Alex Galchenyuk. “I grew up watching him play. Now, I’ve had the chance to play against him for the last few years. The first time was even more special. You get used to it over time, but he’s still a dangerous player when he’s on the ice.”
Ovechkin scored a pair of goals in his last visit to the Bell Centre on April 2 in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Canadiens. He’d actually been held off the scoresheet in the two meetings before that, though. On a side note, the Canadiens will also have to pay close attention to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who at 23 years of age is Washington’s top point-getter with 26 points in 23 games.
- The Canadiens will also have to play a disciplined brand of hockey on Thursday night, as the Capitals arrive in Montreal with the second-best power play in the league. Barry Trotz’s club has clicked 26.8 percent of the time with the man advantage so far this season. They’ve also scored six power play goals in their last three games, and picked up five straight wins.
- If the Canadiens are among the NHL’s top teams in terms of goals scored per game with an average of 3.42, the Capitals have enjoyed similar success in that department with an average of 3.22 – good enough for third spot. Washington’s forwards aren’t the only players chipping in on offense, though. With 18 points on the year, defenseman John Carlson has been leading the way from the back end.
“I haven’t had a chance to play against the Capitals much because I spent the majority of my career in the Western Conference. But, every time it happens, you can tell he has really good vision, he skates well and he’s a constant offensive threat,” explained Jeff Petry, referencing the 25-year-old defenseman. “You have to be prepared for a fourth guy joining the rush. It’s not just Carlson, though. They’ve got other dangerous guys on defense, too.”
- The Canadiens’ recent string of injuries afforded Christian Thomas another chance to show the team’s brass what he’s capable of. The 23-year-old Toronto native will play his third straight game for Michel Therrien’s troops on Thursday night, assuming a spot on the fourth line with both Brian Flynn and Devante Smith-Pelly. So far, Thomas believes it’s been a good fit.
“I think it’s great. A lot of teams like to put tougher guys out there, guys that are big, to try to push guys around. For us, I think we have a really fast fourth line,” shared Thomas, who has played 22 games with the Canadiens over the last two-plus seasons, while shuffling between the NHL and AHL ranks. “I think we catch other fourth lines off guard. Hopefully, we can keep doing that.”
Coming off a game in which he registered the first assist of his NHL career on a perfect pass to speedster Paul Byron, Thomas is feeling confident right now. Before arriving in Montreal, the former second-round selection put up seven goals and 14 points in 18 games with the IceCaps, so things appear to be clicking for the 5-foot-9, 175-pound winger wherever he goes.
“I think I’ve improved a little bit of everything [since last season]. I think the No. 1 thing is my consistency. I thought I had a better start this year compared to my other years playing in the American League,” mentioned Thomas. “I think that’s translated well here, and hopefully I can keep it going.”
- Mike Condon will get the start in goal for the Canadiens. It will be his 15th start of the year, and his first career start against the Capitals. The Holliston, MA native boasts a 2.11 goals against average and a .918 save percentage on the season.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and City Montreal.
Probable lineup against Washington:
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Weise
Eller – Galchenyuk – Andrighetto
Fleischmann – Plekanec – Byron
Smith-Pelly – Flynn – Thomas
- After registering a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night, the Canadiens were back at practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday.
- All players were present and accounted for at practice, except for Andrei Markov who was given a therapy day. Alexander Semin, meanwhile, who is still dealing with a lower-body injury, also took part in the on-ice session.
- Head coach Michel Therrien featured the same lines at practice that he did in Tuesday night’s tilt against Columbus. David Desharnais skated on a line with Max Pacioretty, while countrymen Tomas Plekanec and Tomas Fleischmann were paired together on a line with Paul Byron.
- The Canadiens also announced that forward Michael Bournival was placed on waivers on Wednesday afternoon. If he isn’t claimed in the next 24 hours, he’ll report to the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps.
Forward lines at practice:
- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday morning in preparation for their tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre.
- Prior to the start of practice, forward Alexander Semin hit the ice for a brief skating session. Semin, who remains on injured reserve, suffered a lower-body injury on November 25 against the New York Rangers.
- Head coach Michel Therrien – who will be behind the bench for his 700th career NHL game – confirmed only one lineup change for Tuesday night’s contest against Columbus. Alexei Emelin returns to active duty after missing the last two games. He will take Greg Pateryn’s spot on the back end.
- Life without Carey Price in goal begins for real on Tuesday night. Deprived of the All-World netminder’s services for at least the next six weeks, the Canadiens are well aware of the challenge that lies ahead. It’s a test they’re prepared to handle head on, coming to work with the same approach that has helped them reach the top of the NHL standings through seven weeks of play early on this season.
“We’re handling this like professionals. For young guys or inexperienced guys who’ve never gone through this before, where you have injury problems and guys need to step up, this is where we get to see what we’re made of as a team,” explained defenseman P.K. Subban, who currently sits tied for third among all NHL rearguards with 20 points on the year. “I think that any team in this league, when they lose their No. 1 goaltender – or a couple of their top players, like with Gally and Mitchy that we’re missing, too – the onus is on us to respond the right way as a group. If we have the right attitude, we’ll be fine.”
In fact, the 2013 Norris Trophy winner believes a little hardship isn’t necessarily a bad thing right about now.
“Quite frankly, I’m happy that our team is going through some adversity at this point in the year. It’s good for us. Come playoff time, there are going to be things that happen, too. It’s better for us to face it now and learn how to deal with it the right way,” admitted Subban. “We have the right leadership in this room that’s going to hold this group accountable. Everybody’s got to step up and contribute.”
- After being called up from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps on Monday afternoon, goaltender Zachary Fucale took part in Tuesday’s morning skate on the South Shore. The Rosemere native has performed brilliantly in the early stages of his professional career, posting a 7-2-1 record, a 3.12 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage in 12 appearances so far this year.
“After getting the call, I had an instant smile on my face. I smiled pretty much the entire day. It’s very exciting, but at the same, it’s just another step forward. Like management said, I just need to stay ready. I’m not here on vacation. I need to work hard,” offered Fucale, who will serve as Mike Condon’s back-up on Tuesday night with Dustin Tokarski having been reassigned to the IceCaps on Monday. “This is a good opportunity for me to be around the pros. It will be beneficial both now and when I head back to St. John’s. My goal right now is just to learn and absorb as much knowledge as I can.”
Following the morning skate, Therrien expanded upon the Canadiens’ decision to send Tokarski back to St. John’s and bring Fucale up to the big club for the first time.
“Tokarski hasn’t played much in the last month. He needs to play before we’re going to use him. It wouldn’t be fair to throw him out there if he hasn’t played for almost a month. We want to make sure he’s going to play,” shared Therrien, referencing the fact that Tokarski will tend goal for the next three games with Sylvain Lefebvre’s squad, seeing game action on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. “For his part, Zach has done a wonderful job in St. John’s. I talked to him this morning. He has to be a sponge. He needs experience, but he’s also got to be ready [to play]. That’s his job. He’s a good kid with a good attitude.”
- Speaking of attitude, the Canadiens will surely be looking to avoid any sort of letdown once the puck drops on Tuesday night against John Tortorella’s contingent – even if 19 points currently separate the two teams in the standings.
“I don’t think you can look at the standings when you’re playing teams. They don’t reflect how tough this league is, especially with teams at the bottom of the league. The way this league is designed is any team can beat any other team on any given night if you’re not prepared or not playing the right way,” offered Subban, who has two goals and seven points in eight career games against Columbus. “Hockey is that type of game. If we don’t come out with the right attitude or the right performance, they’re going to beat us. It’s that simple.”
Therrien’s assessment of the Blue Jackets, meanwhile, is a good indicator that he isn’t taking the likes of Ryan Johnasen, Brandon Saad, Nick Foligno or Brandon Dubinsky, among others, lightly either.
“This is a team that a lot of people put in the playoffs. They had a bad start. They’ve played some good hockey lately, though, and they’re tough to play against,” offered Therrien. “They’ve been taking more chances and having some success. It’s going to be a hell of a challenge for us again tonight.”
- Mike Condon will make his 14th start of the year for the Canadiens. Sergei Bobrovsky will be between the pipes for the Blue Jackets.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
Words From The Room: December 1
Game Preview: Canadiens vs Blue Jackets
This Holiday Season, the Montreal Canadiens reach out to the community with different initiatives
Following practice Monday afternoon in Brossard, the Canadiens announced they had recalled goaltender Zachary Fucale from the St. John's IceCaps, while Dustin Tokarski has been reassigned back to the Habs’ AHL affiliate.
In 12 outings this season with St. John's, Fucale has a 7-2-1 record with a goals against average of 3.12 and a save percentage of .907. Fucale, who is in his first season of professional hockey in the AHL, earns his first call up to the NHL.
Tokarski has not seen action since being recalled by the Canadiens on Thursday November 26. He last made an appearance in relief of Mike Condon on November 14, allowing two goals on 13 shots. The IceCaps will play three games in the next few days, hitting the ice on December 2, 4 and 5.
- After a day off on Sunday, the Canadiens returned to practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday morning. Michel Therrien’s troops will be back in action on Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre.
- The Canadiens announced that goaltender Carey Price would be sidelined for at least six weeks with a lower-body injury. He will not require surgery, though. Following practice, general manager Marc Bergevin confirmed the news. He mentioned that he is totally confident in his goaltenders, especially Mike Condon who performed brilliantly during Price’s first absence earlier in the year.
|Michael Bournival was back at practice on Monday.|
- Absent from practice since the start of the season, Michael Bournival finally skated alongside his teammates on Monday. He had been sidelined with concussion-like symptoms, but was working out at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard every day with the help of athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine.
“I’ve been working hard to come back ready to go since September. I’m happy where I’m at today,” offered Bournival after practice. “When I failed the medicals at training camp, I was really disappointed. I played hockey all my life and being on the sidelines was tough. It’s been a long process. I’ve worked hard, almost three hours a day. I’m happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish with my treatment and finally to be able to skate with the guys.”
- Recalled from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps late Sunday afternoon, forward Daniel Carr took part in Monday’s on-ice session on the South Shore. Carr has put up eight goals, 17 points and a plus-7 differential in 21 games with Sylvain Lefebvre’s squad so far this year. He skated with Michael Bournival and Brian Flynn on a “fifth” line.
“I got the call after the game on Sunday. It’s an honour to be here and I’m really happy about it,” mentioned Carr. “I’ve been working hard with the coaches in St. John’s and I think things are going in the right direction for me.”
- Defenseman Tom Gilbert took part in Monday's practice session up until he came into contact with David Desharnais at center ice. Gilbert left the ice for about 10 minutes before returning and continuing on with regular drills. He skated alongside Greg Pateryn.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Eller – Galchenyuk – Andrighetto
Byron – Flynn - Thomas
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Smith-Pelly
Weise – Desharnais – Fleischmann
Carr – Flynn – Bournival
Pateryn – Gilbert
Beaulieu/Emelin – Petry
Markov – Subban
The Canadiens announced Monday morning that Carey Price would miss a minimum of six weeks due to a lower-body injury.
The Canadiens organization alos confirmed that last season's most valuable player will not have surgery.
Price returned on November 20th, after missing close to three weeks of action. He won all three of his starts since then, but did not complete the last one, Wednesday night against the New York Rangers.
Since the beginning of the season, Price has a record of 10-2-0, a goals-against average of 2.06 and a save percentage of .934.
David Desharnais earns Molson Cup honour for November
A tale of two cities
The Canadiens recalled forward Daniel Carr from St. John's on Sunday afternoon. The left winger has racked up nine goals and 19 points and posted a plus-7 differential through 21 AHL games this season. Carr had a goal and an assist against the Toronto Marlies prior to being called up on Sunday.
- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Prudential Center on Friday ahead of their game against the Devils. Fifteen players took part in the practice, including Dustin Tokarski and Christian Thomas, who met the team in New Jersey on Thursday night after being recalled from St. John’s.
- Tokarski will back up Mike Condon against the Devils, as Carey Price was placed on the injured reserve list with a lower body injury on Thursday. Despite being without his starting netminder for at least the next few games, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that his game plan remains the same no matter who he has between the pipes.
“We had a really good start and we faced adversity early in the season when Carey got hurt. We lost another warrior in Brendan Gallagher, but for us, it’s business as usual,” explained Therrien. “We have to make sure we’re solid and that we give ourselves a chance to win hockey games by playing the right way. Credit goes to the players and the leadership, because they approach every game the right way. Absolutely nothing changes. We want to play the same way, we want to play the right way, we want to play within our structure. We believe our structure is what brings us success.
- Therrien also confirmed on Thursday that Bud Holloway will make his NHL debut on Friday night at the age of 27. He’ll skate alongside Paul Byron and Brian Flynn, who are looking forward to seeing what the rookie winger can bring to their line.
“He’s played a lot of professional hockey. He’s worked hard to get to this point and he’s definitely earned it, especially with the really good start he had in St. John’s this year,” said Flynn on his new linemate, who was first on the IceCaps and third in the AHL with 20 points in 18 games when he was called up. “From what I’ve seen, he sees the ice really well. He’s a smart player and he’s good offensively. Hopefully we’ll be able to contribute a little more offensively tonight.”
“We decided before we left for the trip that Alexei would come back into the lineup. He was feeling good, but we’ll continue to work with him and he’ll probably be back in the lineup on Saturday,” shared Therrien, whose team will head back to Montreal after the game to face the Devils on home ice on Saturday. “We have depth and we like to use that as much as possible. In Emelin’s case, he missed a lot of time and we’re playing three games in four nights. We have to manage his ice time.”
- Devils netminder Cory Schneider will get his second career start against the Canadiens on Friday night. He’ll be looking to add to New Jersey’s impressive start to the campaign, having racked up 23 points to date under rookie head coach John Hynes.
“This is a team that plays with a lot of energy and they’ll be one of the teams battling right to the end to earn a playoff spot,” said Therrien. “Games against teams like that are always difficult.”
- Puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m. at the Prudential Center. The game will be broadcast on RDS, Sportsnet East, 98.5FM, and TSN 690.
Game Preview: Canadiens vs Devils
The long game
Answering the call
- In Carey Price's absence, goaltender Dustin Tokarski was recalled from the AHL's St. John's IceCaps. It will mark the 26-year-old's second stint in Montreal this season. He didn't make any starts with the Canadiens while Price was previously sidelined with a lower-body injury, as Mike Condon was a mainstay between the pipes. Tokarski did come on in relief, though, as he was called into action to replace Condon in the game against the Colorado Avalanche on November 14. He gave up two goals on 13 shots against.
- The Canadiens also placed Alexander Semin on injured reserve, and recalled forward Christian Thomas from the IceCaps. In 18 games wtih Sylvain Lefebvre's squad this season, Thomas amassed seven goals and 14 points in 18 games. The 23-year-old left-winger ranks fourth in points on the IceCaps. He played 18 games with the Canadiens in 2014-15.
- Therrien confirmed that Mike Condon will get the start against the Devils. It will mark Condon’s 12th start of the season. The rookie netminders is now 7-2-2 in his NHL career, with a .916 save percentage and 2.16 goals-against average.
- Condon was the only goaltender on the ice on Thursday as the team has not yet called up a netminder from St. John’s.
Lines and defense pairings at practice