BROSSARD – In another playoff edition of the notebook, the Habs are back at the rink after two days off and are looking forward to their next playoff matchup.
Reinforcements on the way: It was a case of good news-bad news on the injury front for the Canadiens. After Friday’s up-tempo practice, head coach Michel Therrien gave a quick update on the health of forward Alex Galchenyuk, who has been out since the final week of the regular season with a lower-body injury.
“Yes, of course there is a chance that Galchenyuk could play in the second round,” replied Therrien when asked if the American could be back in the lineup in the near future. “That’s what we hope for, but right now we have no idea when he could come back.”
In essence, the team currently has no timetable for the young star’s return as Galchenyuk has yet to skate since suffering the injury.
However, Friday’s practice did see winger Travis Moen continue to work toward a return to play, he who had suffered a concussion against Boston in the teams’ final matchup of the regular season.
“I feel good. The last four or five days I’ve been getting up there skating-wise, so I’ll be 100 percent very shortly,” offered the veteran, who had anchored the team’s bottom-six and been a go-to guy on the penalty kill before going down with injury.
Though he is anxious to get back in action, he cautioned that the Boston-Detroit series, which the Bruins now lead 3-1, is far from settled.
“It’s not over yet. Detroit’s a great team, too. We’re going to be patient and see what happens. It’ll be about staying in game shape to be ready for whoever we end up facing.”
Moen’s eventual return will force Michel Therrien to make a choice about the makeup of his fourth line. The Michael Bournival-Daniel Briere-Dale Weise combination had been productive at both ends of the ice against Tampa Bay, but Moen’s inclusion could add an extra physical dimension against their next opponent.
“The good thing is that Travis is healthy. Now we’re working on his conditioning and his timing. We don’t have to make a decision tomorrow, so we’ll just wait until the start of the next series to make the decision,” explained Therrien. “He’s a big body, plays well on the penalty kill and has the experience of winning a Stanley Cup. I see it more as good news for us, than a dilemma of who to take out of the lineup. As a coach, you want all your players to be healthy and ready to play.”
The NHL announced its Vezina Trophy finalists for the 2013-14 season on Friday morning. The list included Tuukka Rask, Ben Bishop and Semyon Varlamov. Notably absent is the name of Canadiens starter Carey Price, who backstopped Team Canada to a gold medal in Sochi while compiling a career-high 0.927 save percentage in the regular season.
“I’m very surprised. Carey deserves to be there,” said Therrien, who saw his goaltender register 34 wins in 61 starts during the regular season. “All three goalies who were finalists had excellent seasons, make no mistake about that, but Carey should be right there with them because he had an unbelievable year.”
According to defenseman Douglas Murray, Price should not be overly concerned with the snub, as he has bigger objectives in mind this season.
“He definitely deserved to be one of the three Vezina finalists, but I think if you were to ask him, he’d much rather win the Stanley Cup,” insisted Murray.
Getting set: With the identify of the Habs’ next playoff opponent still a mystery, the squad's operations staff is already hard at work.
“We do a lot of work in terms of reviewing video. We are also in constant communication with our pro scouts who are on site at the Boston-Detroit series. When you’re at the game, sometimes you can pick up on things that you may not necessarily identify on the films,” revealed Therrien. “It’s a challenge for our players and our coaching staff. We had a meeting this morning before practice to discuss our plan. One thing’s for sure, I have no worries when it comes to our level of preparation for the next round, no matter who we play.”
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
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