Bring on the champs: The Chicago Blackhawks know how to light the lamp. In fact, they’ve done so more times than any other NHL team thus far this season. With 169 tallies in 46 games, it’s safe to say they boast one of the more potent offenses in the league.
Carey Price knows full well what the Canadiens will be up against when they tangle with the defending Stanley Cup champs on Saturday night, and the three-time All-Star has a healthy respect for Joel Quenneville’s contingent ahead of the much-anticipated match-up in La Belle Province.
“They’re an elite team in this league. That’s the reason that they’re Stanley Cup champions and it’s definitely going to be a big challenge for us tomorrow,” offered Price, who will likely make his 36th start of the season on Saturday night against a Blackhawks squad that is coming off their first loss in regulation time in their last 11 games. “I think that they play with a lot of confidence. That’s the biggest thing that they have going for them. They’re good and they play like it and they act like it. They know how to win. They’ve got a lot of talent and an excellent work ethic.”
Among the vast array of scoring threats that the Blackhawks will feature at the Bell Centre is captain Jonathan Toews, a player Price is quite familiar with from their gold-medal winning performance as members of Team Canada at the 2007 World Junior Hockey Championships in Sweden.
“He’s a special player. He’s a leader. There’a a reason why he’s had such a successful career so far. He’s a total package hockey player,” praised Price, who admits playing alongside the two-time Stanley Cup champion on Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympic in Sochi will be somewhat of a relief. “It will be nice to play with him [in Russia] and not against him.”
A tough stretch : Every hockey player goes through periods of time over the course of their career when scoring goals is a tough task. Such is the case right now for Rene Bourque, who is having fair share of trouble and bad luck in that department since returning to active duty after missing two weeks of action in December with an upper-body injury. The 32-year-old right-winger, however, is doing everything in his power game in and game out to turn things around.
“The key right now is to get more shots on goal. I need to have the puck and I need to carry it with speed. I’m going to the net. I’ve had a few good chances and a few unlucky bounces, but I’m hopeful that it will come with time,” mentioned Bourque, who has seen two of his goals disallowed in recent weeks, both of which were markers that head coach Michel Therrien didn’t hesitate to call “good goals”.
With the prolonged absence of Alex Galchenyuk due to injury, Bourque, who practiced alongside Lars Eller and Michael Bournival on Friday morning, will certainly be given more responsibilities going forward.
“You always want to put some pressure on your shoulders. You want to perform and to help your team the best way that you can. I’m struggling right now, and I’m hoping that I can get something going soon,” underlined Bourque, who will go up against a Chicago Blackhawks squad on Saturday night that afforded him his first playing opportunity in the NHL back in 2005.
Much ado about nothing: Michel Therrien’s decision to sit P.K. Subban for a good portion of the third period on Wednesday night against the Flyers caused quite a stir over the last two days. On Friday afternoon, Subban addressed his coach’s move publically for the first time.
“He’s the coach, and the end of the day he has to make decisions that are in the best interest of the team. We’re running a team here. It’s not P.K.’s team. It’s not Carey Price’s team. It’s the Montreal Canadiens and everybody has to fall under the same rules, so that’s what it is,” offered the 24-year-old defenseman. “If that happens to somebody else, then the same thing will happen. That’s what it is.”
For his part, the Habs bench boss is adamant that the pair have a rock-solid relationship and that all speculation to the contrary is false.
“I had a conversation with P.K. this morning. He was o.k. with the decision that we took. He seemed good with it,” insisted Therrien. “In the past, when something like this happened, we reacted the same way. We have to be honest with everyone. When you’re not honest, that’s when you get yourself in trouble. When you’re honest, you can walk with your head held high and look everyone in the eyes.”
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