BROSSARD – The Canadiens held a morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex on Tuesday, hours before taking on the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre.
Forward Louis Leblanc was back on the ice after missing Monday’s practice due to the flu. After practice, the team announced that Leblanc would be returning to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Brandon Prust was the only player not to skate on Tuesday morning. He opted for a therapy session and will play against the Hurricanes.
“I feel good. This has been my best stint with the Canadiens so far, and the big thing is to keep plugging away and keep getting better with every game. It’s a big game for us tonight. We want to get back to the type of good, sound hockey we’ve been playing for the past year and a half,” commented the Habs’ 2012 first-round pick, who has experienced his share of ups and downs in his two seasons as pro. “Last year was a tough year for the Bulldogs, so I’ve been both how much fun it is to win and how much it stinks to lose. It’s a learning experience. I want to be here and help the club through the tough times. I’ve been on some good teams in juniors, but losing streaks happen with any team. The biggest thing is to stick together.”
Having coached the offensive-minded blueliner on several occasions in the past two years, Michel Therrien believes his charge is definitely headed in the right direction in his most recent NHL stint.
“We know that Nathan’s got the skills to play in the NHL. He can skate and move the puck. The key is consistency. He has to prove to himself that he can play well game after game. So far, we’ve been pleased with what Nathan has accomplished,” Therrien offered.
The Habs’ coach also had encouraging things to say about another one of his young guns.
“Michael Bournival’s work ethic has not changed since the first game of the season. He’s a guy who competes hard and has an exemplary work ethic. Even if he is a rookie, he has been a leader in his way, by blocking shots and using his speed to create chances on the ice,” revealed Therrien about the 21 year-old’s contributions. Having firmly established himself as a team-first player in the first 50 games of his NHL career, Bournival is focused on helping his team reverse its recent skid.
“Playing sixty minutes of disciplined hockey is the key to success. Lately we haven’t been doing that so we’ll try to get back to that,” vowed the Shawinigan, QC native. “I think every team at every level goes through times where it’s hard to win a game. It’s up to us to work hard and make sure it turns around.”
Before wrapping up his game day press conference, Michel Therrien gave his impression on Tuesday night’s opponents.
“The Hurricanes is a team which works extremely hard. They have two good lines, centered by the Staal brothers. This give two powerful combinations which put a lot of pressure on their opponents,” emphasized Therrien. “Preparation is really important, and I felt that we had a good practice yesterday and a good skate this morning as well, which will help us be at our best tonight. The NHL is a league with a lot of parity among its teams. Every team has something to prove on a given night, and being well prepared is going to give us the best chance to succeed.”
Carey Price will start for the Canadiens. His counterpart on the Hurricanes will be Justin Peters.
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