CHICAGO – Wednesday’s game gave the Habs a chance to make some final adjustments before gearing up for the playoffs.
With Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin and Carey Price all staying back in Montreal during the team’s trip to Chicago to rest, the Canadiens had some different faces in uniform against the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. A late addition to the lineup after Lars Eller was forced to sit out with an illness, Dale Weise was able to slide back into the mix against Chicago, scoring his fifth goal of the season despite making a few tweaks to his pre-game preparations.
“Normally I’m pretty strict with my routine and I have to get my nap in, but it didn’t really happen today. I was kind of walking around the city, I went to Starbucks, I watched Real Life Mysteries on TV,” shared Weise with a laugh. “Then I came to the rink and I found out I was playing at about four o’clock. I was happy to contribute and get in. It felt pretty good but it was a tough way to finish out there.”
After being called up by the Canadiens on April 3, Nathan Beaulieu was finally able to crack the Habs lineup on Wednesday as well, and the 21-year-old didn’t disappoint. A plus-1 in his workload of 16:29, Beaulieu showcased the poise and offensive prowess that made him a first-round draft pick in 2011.
“It sucked breaking down like that at the end and not getting the two points, but from a personal standpoint I thought I eased in pretty well,” mentioned Beaulieu, who has now suited up for 17 games with the Habs this season. “I moved the puck and skated well, so I was happy with my game but two points at the end of the day is what mattered. There are only a couple of games left so it was important to make a stand. Hopefully I get another opportunity and I’ll try to take advantage of it.
The team’s blue line was also bolstered by the return of veteran defenseman Josh Gorges, who was back after missing the last 15 games with a broken hand.
“I felt all right but I felt like I hadn’t played in a month,” admitted the 29-year-old rearguard, who blocked three shots, threw six hits and chipped in with an assist on Weise’s goal in his 21:39 of ice time against the Hawks. “That was fast hockey out there tonight and when you haven’t played in a while, you just try to keep it simple. My timing was a little bit off and your legs are never there until you get into a game. I thought it was ok but I have to get better in these next two games.”
Although Gorges wasn’t able to celebrate his return to action with a win, the assistant captain knows the lessons the team learned after watching the Blackhawks rally back from a 2-1 deficit midway through the third to win it in overtime will come in handy for the Habs in the playoffs.
“I thought the guys competed hard. We did a lot of good things out there. We lost focus on a couple of shifts where we made a couple of mistakes and lost our coverage and that was the difference,” explained Gorges. “That just shows how quick a game can turn. We can learn a lot from this game because we played a good game, but good is not always good enough.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
The Numbers Game - April 9, 2014