GLENDALE – The Canadiens were back on the ice for practice on Sunday after a day off in Phoenix on Saturday.
- All players and both goalies took part in the hour-long skate at Gila River Arena.
- Michel Therrien confirmed that Mike Condon will get the start on Monday night against the Coyotes.
- After missing Friday’s game in Buffalo with a lower body injury, Nathan Beaulieu was back skating with his teammates and was paired with Tom Gilbert for the practice. His spot in the lineup will only be confirmed after Monday’s game day skate.
LINES AND DEFENSE PAIRINGS AT PRACTICEPacioretty- Desharnais- Andrighetto
Weise-Mitchell-De La Rose
BUFFALO -- The Canadiens held an optional practice at First Niagara Center in Buffalo on Friday morning ahead of their game against the Sabres. Sixteen players were on the ice, with Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban, Brendan Gallagher, Torrey Mitchell, Tom Gilbert, and Tomas Plekanec opting not to skate.
Nathan Beaulieu joined the team on the ice near the end of practice, after having left Tuesday’s game early after blocking a shot.
|Ben Scrivens will get the start against the Sabres.|
Before leaving Montreal, Michel Therrien confirmed that Ben Scrivens would get the start for a fourth-straight game. The 29-year-old netminder is set to face the Sabres for the seventh time in his career and owns a 2.83 goals-against average and .908 save percentage all-time against Buffalo. This will mark the third time in his career that Scrivens has started four consecutive games.
“Ben is doing well. He’s part of the winning recipe right now. He’s helping us win games and we don’t want to change anything at this point,” said Therrien on his decision to stick with Scrivens between the pipes.
Greg Pateryn will suit up for his 12th game of the campaign on Friday night, returning to the lineup against the Sabres to mark his first game action since January 9. The 25-year-old blue-liner has been a healthy scratch for 14 of the last 15 games and has played just one since January 1, but he’s looking to make a seamless transition back into the fray in Buffalo.
|Greg Pateryn will make his return to action in Buffalo.|
“I’m definitely excited. I’ve been waiting a while. It gets to you, but I think what differentiates some players from others is being able to be mentally strong when you hit a speed bump in the road,” stressed Pateryn. “I wasn’t going to let it slow me down. I’m looking forward to tonight. I’m going to try to get myself into the game early, but stay smart and stay in position. I know how to play an effective game so I’ll stick with my plan.”
While Therrien wouldn’t confirm whether or not Paul Byron would return against Buffalo, citing him as a game-time decision, he did explain what he expects from Pateryn in his first game in over a month.
“We know he might be a little rusty. It’s been a long time,” mentioned Therrien, who will be without the services of Beaulieu in Buffalo. “You have to practice hard and keep a good attitude and he’s managed to do that, but it will still take some time to get his timing back in a game situation. Execution is a lot faster in games than in practices. He’ll have to keep things simple.”
Birthday boy Alex Galchenyuk is hoping to ring in the big 2-2 in style in Buffalo, looking to build on his line’s stellar play of late. Combining for 13 points in the last three games with linemates Tomas Plekanec (3G, 4A) and Brendan Gallagher (2G, 2A), the trio has been the team’s hottest threesome during the current win streak.
“Sometimes you can be playing the same way but you don’t get the bounces. Then when you do get the bounces, people start thinking that you’re playing differently,” said Galchenyuk, who has 12 goals and 32 points in 55 games this season. “[Plekanec] is confident. We’ve all had some tough times over the course of this year, but he definitely stepped up when he needed to. He’s a great leader on this team and he’s playing like it. He’s making plays, he’s playing solid defensively, and he’s doing everything we need him to do. We have to keep going. We’ve had some recent success over the last couple of games, but it’s almost playoffs and we know we can’t make any mistakes. We have to stick together and keep doing what we’ve done to help the team.”
Responding to rumors that circulated earlier in the day that Carey Price wouldn’t be back during the 2015-16 season, Therrien reiterated that there has been no change or update in the All-Star netminder’s status during his rehab process. The reigning Hart, Vezina, Ted Lindsay and Jennings Trophy winner has been sidelined with a lower-body injury since November 27.
“We know there’s going to be speculation – that’s our market. We know what’s going on with Carey Price,” underlined the Habs bench boss. “It’s taken longer than we expected, but the work he’s putting in, the hours he’s putting in, the effort he’s putting in, that’s not just to maintain his beach body. He’s working extremely hard to come back to play.”
Puck drop is slated for 7:00 p.m. ET at First Niagara Center. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet East, RDS, TSN 690 and 98,5 FM.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Sabres
All hands on deck
Return of a speedster
- The Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning before hitting the road on a three-game road trip that will see them play the Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes and the Colorado Avalanche.
- Lucas Lessio took part in Thursday’s on-ice session after suffering a lower-body injury in his first game with the CH against Philadelphia earlier in the month. Lessio had been skating with athletic therapists over the last couple of days before returning to practice. He will travel with the team on the road trip.
- For his part, Paul Byron will make the trip to Buffalo, too. He’s also been sidelined as of late, having missed the last eight games due to injury. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that a decision on Byron’s playing status would be made on Friday.
- On the back end, there’s a good chance that Greg Pateryn will be in the lineup on Friday night after serving as a healthy scratch for the last 12 games. Pateryn will likely play given that Nathan Beaulieu was unable to take part in Thursday’s practice after going down against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Beaulieu is currently listed as day-to-day.
- Coaching consultant Craig Ramsay joined the rest of the staff for Thursday’s practice session, working on the power play before the official practice got underway at 11 a.m.
- Jacob De La Rose, who was recalled from the AHL's St. John’s IceCaps on Wednesday afternoon, did not take part in Thursday’s practice. He’ll join the team in Buffalo.
- Coming off three straight wins, Ben Scrivens will once again get the start in goal on Friday night. It will mark Scrivens’ eighth start of the season. The 29-year-old netminder has given up just four goals in his last three outings, while posting a .959 save percentage.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Andrighetto
Fleischmann – Eller – DSP
Byron/Lessio – Mitchell – Weise
Subban – Markov
Emelin – Pateryn
Gilbert – Barberio
On Wednesday evening the Canadiens announced that forward Jacob de la Rose has been recalled from the St. John’s IceCaps. In 30 games in the American Hockey League this season, the 20-year-old has amassed four goals and seven assists.
In addition, the Arvika, Sweden native has previously suited up for three games with the Canadiens this season during his most recent stint with the team in January. It is expected that de la Rose will meet his teammates in Buffalo, ahead of Friday night’s match-up against the Sabres.
The recall of de la Rose coincides with the announcement that Brian Flynn is expected to miss six to eight weeks of action after suffering a lower-body injury on February 9 against the Lightning.
- After picking up their third straight victory on Tuesday night, the Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday afternoon.
- In Byron’s case, it marked the first time he’d skated with teammates – and without the supervision of athletic therapists – since sustaining a lower-body injury in mid-January.
- Michel Therrien’s troops will travel to Buffalo on Thursday afternoon. It will mark their first stop on a three-game road trip that will span six days. They’ll play the Sabres on Friday night, before moving on to Arizona and Colorado.
Following Tuesday's 4-2 win against the Lightning, the team announced that forward Brian Flynn will be out for a period of six to eight weeks.
Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, meanwhile, is day-to-day with a lower body injury.
Both left the game during the same shift in the second period, and neither returned for the third.
- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday morning in preparation for their tilt against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre.
- After being a healthy scratch for the last two games, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will return to the Canadiens’ lineup on Tuesday night. Jeff Petry, meanwhile, will miss the contest due to a lower-body injury. For Beaulieu, the chance to suit up again after taking in the last two tilts from the press box means a lot.
“Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed with what happened. All I can do is take advantage of the opportunity to play tonight,” said Beaulieu, who is averaging 16:58 of ice time per game so far this season through 51 games played. “I believe in myself and my abilities. I think that’s what matters most. This is another opportunity to get out there. I feel fortunate for that.”
The 23-year-old rearguard is taking things in stride, knowing full-well what Michel Therrien and the rest of the coaching staff expect of him going forward.
“I’ve just got to be better,” admitted Beaulieu, who has two goals and 16 points on the year. “I’ve never lost confidence, though. I’m a young D-man, and sometimes the road doesn’t always go where you want it to go. Things happen. But, there’s definitely a little motivation there because of what happened.”
- Beaulieu will be going about his work alongside Mark Barberio, who was drafted by the Lightning back in 2008 and played 103 games with the organization before joining his hometown team during the offseason.
“[Nathan and I] played together before, a couple of games. We know each other pretty well,” said Barberio, who will be playing his 17th game of the season on Tuesday night. “We move the puck well and move our feet. He’s good at jumping in the zone offensively.”
Needless to say, these matchups with Jon Cooper’s squad mean just a little bit more to Barberio given his connection to his former club.
“It’s always special to play against your old team,” said Barberio, who has one goal and three points with the Canadiens. “Tampa is a really good team. They’ve turned it up as of late. They lost on Monday night, so they’ll try to rebound tonight. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
Brendan Gallagher shared similar thoughts on Tuesday morning after the Canadiens wrapped up their on-ice session on the South Shore.
“It’s a big game. Everyone remembers how the season ended last year. For us, the focus will be on ourselves and what we can control,” admitted Gallagher, who was still recovering from surgery to repair two broken fingers when the two teams last met in Tampa on Dec. 28. “We understand the situation that we’re in.”
- That’s something David Desharnais touched upon on Tuesday, too. The Canadiens made a lot of good things happen over the weekend against Edmonton and Carolina, respectively. Now, it’s up to them to continue trending in the right direction against an Atlantic Division rival that always plays them tough.
“We scored five goals in a game [on Saturday]. That did us some good. Our goaltender offered up some really good performances, and we didn’t just give up when we fell behind 1-0 [on Sunday],” said Desharnais, who will go in search of his first goal since Jan. 23 – a span of six games. “These are all little things that we need to build off of, but we’re feeling more and more confident.”
Confidence is always key when you’re trying to stop the likes of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Nemestnikov and Victor Hedman. It’s a challenge a veteran like Desharnais enjoys.
“There’s speed and talent out there. They aren’t very physical games against Tampa, but there’s a lot of intensity and emotion,” explained Desharnais. “We like those types of games.”
- Goaltender Ben Scrivens will be making his third straight start for the Canadiens. The Lightning will counter with Ben Bishop between the pipes.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
Probable lineup vs. Tampa Bay:
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Weise
Fleischmann – Eller – Andrighetto
Flynn – Mitchell – Smith-Pelly
Markov – Subban
Beaulieu – Barberio
Emelin – Gilbert
- After stringing together a pair of wins over the weekend, the Canadiens held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday afternoon.
- Captain Max Pacioretty also skated for about 20 minutes before practice got underway. He was sporting a track suit and worked on his shot at both ends of the ice.
- For his part, Paul Byron continued his on-ice rehab work by skating alone on Monday. He's been sidelined with a lower-body injury since mid-January.
- Following practice, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Ben Scrivens would get the start in goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
- After a day off on Thursday, the Canadiens returned to practice on Friday morning in preparation for back-to-back tilts over the weekend against both the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre.
- Prior to the start of practice, both Carey Price and Paul Byron hit the ice to continue rehabbing their respective injuries. Price was sporting a tracksuit and his blocker and glove. He did some work around his goal crease on lateral movement, and worked on clearing the puck, too, from behind the net. For his part, Byron skated with head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend.
- The Canadiens confirmed on Friday that forward Lucas Lessio will be out 2-3 weeks with a lower-body injury sustained on Feb. 2 against the Flyers in Philadelphia.
- Following practice, the Canadiens confirmed that Ben Scrivens would get the start in goal against the Oilers on Saturday afternoon. It will mark Scrivens’ fourth start as a member of the CH since coming on board in late December.
- On Friday, the Canadiens also acknowledged the on-ice achievement and academic distinction of 28 young hockey players as part of the bursary program of the Foundation for Athletic Excellence (QFAE). It marks the ninth consecutive year the CH has done so. Created in 2008, this initiative aims to provide the most promising young student-athletes in men and women’s hockey with financial support.
In a ceremony at the Bell Sports Complex, scholarships valued at $1,500 were presented to the most deserving young hockey players between 15 and 18 years of age. Eight of the scholarships were handed out to female hockey players from Quebec’s provincial team hoping to earn a spot on the Canadian National Team, while 20 more scholarships were awarded to hockey players from the Midget AAA league.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
- The Canadiens hit the ice at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday morning, ahead of tonight’s game against the Flyers.
- Mike Condon will get the nod between the pipes for the Canadiens. The rookie netminder has yet to face the Flyers in his career, as Ben Scrivens started the Habs previous matchup against Philadelphia earlier this year. Condon heads into Tuesday night’s contest with a 13-13-4 record complimented by a goals against average of 2.45 and a save percentage of .904
- In addition, coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Tom Gilbert will make his return to the lineup since suffering a lower-body injury on December 22 against the Minnesota Wild.
“Since the playoffs start soon, every single game from now on is extremely important. We just have to take it game by game. I just have to try and contribute as much as I can. Be a positive factor for this team moving forward and help make a good push before the playoffs,” proposed Gilbert, who lined-up alongside Mark Barberio at morning skate, and could potentially be paired together on Tuesday night. “It’s nice to be back, it’s tough watching. It’s never fun when you’re hurt, especially when the team isn’t doing well. If I’m playing tonight, it’s because I am at 100%. Just to get away from the rink and get a bit of rest and work hard on making a comeback was good for my confidence.”
- Lucas Lessio, recently called up to the Habs for the first time on January 31, will suit up for his first career game in a Canadiens uniform. At morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center, Lessio rotated on a line with Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn while sporting his new number '53'.
“I’m excited for sure. Pulling on the Canadiens jersey for the first time is going to be very special. Given the history and the number of Stanley Cups the team has, it’s going to be a pretty cool feeling,” acknowledged Lessio, who has 29 games of NHL experience with the Arizona Coyotes to his credit. “Coach said to keep it simple and just play my game. It’s not my first time in the league, so it is another opportunity for me and I am just looking to put my best foot forward and help the team win tonight. My mentality tonight is to be a reliable two-way forward and use my speed to create some offensive chances. I may have some people come up from Toronto but it’s pretty short notice. But my friends and family will be watching on TV tonight.”
- Coach Therrien added that he expects Lessio to help energize the team by sticking to the style of play that earned him his first call up to the Canadiens.
"I am sure he will be nervous. It will be his first game with his new team, and that’s normal. In his case, he just has to keep it simple. This is a guy who can bring energy to our team through his strong work ethic, his quick speed, and by being strong on the fore-check.”
- Defenseman Alexei Emelin, who missed Monday afternoon’s practice due to a flight cancellation, was back at practice on Tuesday morning where he patrolled the blue-line alongside Greg Pateryn. Michel Therrien however confirmed that the 29-year-old defenseman will not suit up against the Flyers as the physical blue-liner requires a bit more ice time to be game-ready after the break.
“It’s a bit of wishful thinking to have someone play a game after only touching the ice for morning skate after a six-day break. In Alexei’s case, he is a big body that needs time to warm up,” explained Michel Therrien, who will use the opportunity to reinsert Gilbert back into the lineup. “The game on December 26 was difficult for him because it was after a three-day break during the holidays. It’s unfortunate but these events are beyond our control.”
- Since the onset of December, Michel Therrien’s troops have scored a grand total of 48 goals, resulting in an average of 1.92 goals per game, which is in sharp contrast to the 3.52 average goals per game prior to December.
"Since the beginning of December, our biggest problem has been scoring goals. Winning games is the ultimate goal, but there were many games where we weren’t able to convert on our scoring opportunities. That's what matters. Both sides of the puck can be improved, but there is no doubt we need to find a way to score more goals,” explained coach Therrien, who formed the trio of Lars Eller, Tomas Fleischmann and Devante Smith-Pelly in an attempt to reinvigorate the Canadiens offense. “We also need to focus on winning the special teams battle, but to me it is vital that we play well in five-on-five situations. This is where the majority of the game will be played and we have to be at our best.
Lines from Practice
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Weise
Lessio - Mitchell - Flynn
Pateryn - Emelin
Quotes from the room: Feb 2.
Back to work
Scott, Atkinson, Eichel named stars of week
Soaking it all in