The Canadiens held an optional morning skate ahead of Friday’s game against Tampa. Mike Weaver, Thomas Vanek, Alexei Emelin, Jarred Tinordi, P.K. Subban, Dale Weise, Travis Moen, Francis Bouillon, Josh Gorges, Ryan White, Michael Bournival, Douglas Murray, Carey Price and Peter Budaj were all on the ice for practice.
Michel Therrien confirmed there will be no changes made to his lineup from Game 1 heading into Game 2. Seeing his first game action on Wednesday night since suffering an upper body injury with 12 games left in the regular season, Brandon Prust played over 20 minutes against the Lightning in Game 1 alongside Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher. Shaking the rust off to throw three hits and block one shot, Prust will once again be called on to play a shutdown role against Tampa’s elite snipers.
“I expect that [Prust] will be better every game,” mentioned Therrien of the 30-year-old winger. “He hadn’t played for almost a month and he had to come back quickly. Game after game we imagine he’ll get better and better in terms of his timing and little adjustments he has to make. But he’s a guy who will give everything he has; he’ll block shots, he’s hard to play against, he’s a leader on the team and what’s most important to me, he’s a gamer. We want all our players to be gamers and he definitely shows leadership in that area.”
Far from an under-the-radar scoring threat in the Lightning lineup, Steven Stamkos will once again receive the lion’s share of the attention from Montreal’s defenders following his two-goal, five-shot performance in Game 1.
“He’s a world-class player and they’re tough to contain. Even if you try to get the best defensive game plan regarding those players, they’re always going to find a way – that’s why they’re world-class players,” explained Therrien, who tried to match the Prust-Plekanec-Gallagher line against Stamkos, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn as often as possible in Game 1. “[Stamkos] had two scoring chances and bang: two goals. They’re elite, special players and it’s always a challenge for the guys on the ice to play against players like that.”
Moving on quickly from a big win in Game 1, the Canadiens are refocused and ready to start again from scratch in the second game of the series on Friday night. Wednesday’s overtime hero, Dale Weise credits the team’s leadership-by-committee approach to maintaining an even keel in the playoffs.
“I think we have great leadership in this locker room. It keeps guys grounded when we have good games and we don’t dissect things too much when we have bad games,” shared Weise, who arrived in Montreal via a trade with Vancouver in February. “We have some things we want to tighten up from last game but we didn’t dwell on that and at the same time we don’t think we’re awesome because we scored five goals. The poise on this team is unbelievable.”
Carey Price will get his second start of the postseason, once again slated to face Anders Lindback at the other end of the ice. The only expected lineup change for the Lightning is Tom Pyatt sliding in to replace Tampa forward Ondrej Palat who was injured in Game 1.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
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