Game Day - Panthers - Jan. 6

Monday, 06.01.2014 / 12:27 PM

- The Canadiens held an optional skate on Monday morning in Brossard ahead of their tilt against the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre. This is the third of four games between these Atlantic division teams during the 2013-14 campaign. The Panthers beat the Canadiens in their two previous meetings with a 2-1 win at Bell Centre on Dec. 15 and a 4-1 home victory on Dec. 29.

- Sixteen skaters and both goaltenders took part in the on-ice session on Monday morning. The only players missing were Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty and Ryan White.

- With respect to White, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that the 25-year-old forward is expected to be sidelined for the next two weeks. White was injured on Jan. 2 in Dallas.

- Therrien also confirmed that the Canadiens’ lineup will remain unchanged on Monday night. Raphael Diaz will be a healthy scratch, while Daniel Briere will play alongside Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec. Briere registered two goals and three points on that line on Saturday night against Ottawa.

- The Canadiens might sit 15 points ahead of the Panthers in the Eastern Conference standings, but the Habs have yet to best the South Florida-based franchise in two meetings thus far this season. If the bleu-blanc-rouge has learned anything from their previous tilts against Peter Horachek’s club, it’s that the Panthers are far better than their record indicates.

“They’re not easy to play against at all. You’ve got to outwork them because that’s what they did to us the first two games and that’s why they won. It’s as simple as that. They’re a good team,” confided Lars Eller, who has 10 goals and 20 points on the year. “I think we owe it to ourselves to give it a better effort than the first two games against them. If we can match their effort or bring a better one than them, we’ve got a good chance to win. We’ve got to match their effort, especially in our building. We owe that to ourselves.”

- Raphael Diaz was named to Team Switzerland for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on Monday. The Canadiens rearguard will be sporting his nation’s colors on Olympic ice for the second time in his career, having previously donned the red and white in Vancouver in 2010.

“I’m very happy to be going to my second Olympics. In a month, we’ll fly over from here, and of course I’m really happy,” offered the 27-year-old, who became the second Habs player to earn a spot on an Olympic roster after Max Pacioretty was named to Team USA last week.

“It’s always a really good challenge," added Diaz. "It’s the tournament of all tournaments every four years. Of course you’re happy to compete there against the best players in the world.”

- With the formal announcement of Canada’s Olympic roster scheduled for Tuesday morning at 11 a.m., head coach Michel Therrien discussed the importance of his troops earning highly-coveted spots to compete for their countries at the Olympic Games.

“We want our players to experience things like that. I’m very happy that Raphy has a chance to go over there and represent his country. Tomorrow, big announcements will be made and I’m confident that like Paciorertty and Diaz, other guys will get a chance to participate in the Olympics,” underlined Therrien, whose Canadian ties have him rooting for several of his troops to potentially join Team Canada in Sochi. “I’m Canadian, so I’d really like to see Pricer there. I’m confident. It’s the same thing with P.K. Subban. I strongly believe that they both have a good chance to be there and I sincerely hope that it happens.”

- Carey Price should make his 35th start of the season on Monday night. Price holds a 5-4-1 record and a 1.88 goals-against average in 10 career appearances against the Panthers.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST.

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