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Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 7:03 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - Road to Sochi blog

Yzerman laments leaving St. Louis off Canada's roster

TORONTO – Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman knows his job is not likely to make him many friends. In fact, the tough decisions he and his management were forced to make in forming the team that will compete in the 2014 Sochi Olympics could very well wind up making him a few enemies.

"These players are all proud and confident in themselves and all believe they should be there," Yzerman said Tuesday after the 25-man Canadian roster was announced. "I understand that … it's hard. All these players that are left off are disappointed today and probably aren't real thrilled with me."

However, there is one player in particular that falls under that category that Yzerman would like to ensure remains on good terms: his captain with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Martin St. Louis.

For the second straight Olympics, Yzerman chose not to select St. Louis on the Canadian team. The first time in 2010, Yzerman was not yet the Lightning general manager.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 5:42 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - Road to Sochi blog

Canada returns 11 players from 2010 gold-medal team

Eleven players from Canada's Olympic gold-medal winning team in Vancouver four years ago have been selected to play in the 2014 Sochi Olympics next month.

Hockey Canada released its highly anticipated 25-man Olympic team roster Tuesday in Toronto, naming goalie Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks); defensemen Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks), Shea Weber (Nashville Predators) and Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings); and forwards Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins), Rick Nash (New York Rangers), Jonathan Toews (Blackhawks), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks), Corey Perry (Ducks) and Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks) as the returning players from the 2010 team, which defeated the United States in the gold-medal game.

The first-time Olympians picked to play for Canada in Sochi are goalies Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens) and Mike Smith (Phoenix Coyotes); forwards John Tavares (New York Islanders), Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning), Chris Kunitz (Penguins), Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings), Patrick Sharp (Blackhawks) and Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars); and defensemen Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis Blues), Dan Hamhuis (Vancouver Canucks), P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (San Jose Sharks).

Posted On Saturday, 01.04.2014 / 2:48 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Spezza out for Senators, Briere back for Canadiens

MONTREAL -- Ottawa Senators captain Jason Spezza will have to wait one more game before returning from his hip flexor injury.

With his teammates winning without him, there's really no rush for Spezza to get back.

Spezza will miss his fourth straight game Saturday when the Senators take on the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre seeking a fourth straight victory.

The Senators play their next game Wednesday on the road against the Colorado Avalanche, so missing this game gives Spezza an additional four days to rest and rehabilitate his injury.

"If we absolutely needed him to play the game we could have had him play the game," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "We just felt with four more days before we play in Colorado we should err on the side of caution. For sure the expectation is on Wednesday he'll be 100 percent and stay in the lineup. To play him tonight and have him get re-injured didn't make a whole lot of sense to us."

Spezza took part in his first full practice with the team Friday and said afterwards he felt good, but MacLean said he is not yet fully recovered to play, though he denied the team's success in Spezza's absence had anything to do with the decision to sit him out.

Posted On Sunday, 12.15.2013 / 5:39 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Huberdeau out; backup goalies start for Panthers, Canadiens

MONTREAL -- Jonathan Huberdeau missed the Florida Panthers game against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday with a foot injury.

Huberdeau took a shot off the foot but finished the Panthers' game Friday against the Washington Capitals, taking part in the shootout that gave Florida a 3-2 victory.

Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 2:38 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Kings' Doughty focused on outplaying Habs' Subban

MONTREAL -- In spite of the fact they practically never play each other, the game Tuesday between the Los Angeles Kings and Montreal Canadiens has a ton of interesting storylines.

Each team is on an extended roll, are playing well defensively and rely on a young, dynamic defenseman who eats a lot of minutes.

On that last point, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said he sees it as his responsibility to outplay Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.

"Even though it's a matchup between both teams," Doughty said, "in order for us to win I have to outplay P.K."

Posted On Saturday, 12.07.2013 / 2:27 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Sabres hope to surprise hot Canadiens

MONTREAL -- The Buffalo Sabres are hoping a game against the NHL's hottest team can help turn around their season.

No NHL team can match the Montreal Canadiens' 8-0-1 record over their past nine games, and the Sabres are hoping to put an end to that hot streak Saturday at Bell Centre.

With a 6-21-2 record through 29 games, the Sabres are on pace for just under 40 points in 82 games, which would be by far the lowest total since the introduction of the shootout in 2005-06. The 2006-07 Philadelphia Flyers had 56 points.

"Well, we're definitely not proud of it, to be honest with you," Sabres captain Steve Ott said. "We're not happy with our record, but our process needs to continue to work. No one has packed it in for the season. We have a lot of hockey games left and we want to continue to make a stand.

"A game like tonight is a perfect instance when you have a hot team that's 8-0-1 in the last little while. There's no better feeling than a team like us coming in and hopefully giving them a good show and maybe sneaking in a win."

Posted On Thursday, 12.05.2013 / 2:14 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canadiens, Bruins meet for division lead again

MONTREAL -- It has taken two months, but the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins will finally resume their storied rivalry at Bell Centre on Thursday, and it again will be a game when first place in their division will be on the line.

The Canadiens have gone 7-0-1 in their past eight games to close within a point of the Atlantic Division-leading Bruins, with Boston holding two games in hand. A win in regulation time would give the Canadiens the division lead for the first time this season, though it would be tenuous because of the two extra games Montreal has played.

The game Thursday marks the fifth straight between the Canadiens and Bruins when first place in the division was at stake, with each of their four games last season being a meeting at the summit of what was then the Northeast Division.

Posted On Monday, 12.02.2013 / 1:06 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canadiens' focus on defensive play has paid off

BROSSARD, Quebec -- The New Jersey Devils have historically been a team known for their ability to slow the play down and shut down the opposition, no matter their offensive strength.

But of late, it is their opponents Monday night, the Montreal Canadiens, who have been the defensive juggernauts.

The Canadiens enter the game Monday at Bell Centre having allowed two goals or fewer in 10 straight games, riding a 7-1-2 record over that span.

"We're focusing on playing solid defensively and taking time and space away. It's the same thing with any team," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "Right now we have a healthy lineup and there's a healthy internal competition. I think it's good. But we want to be a team that dictates the game, and this is what we've been doing. The guys, with their work ethic, are doing a good job at it."

Posted On Tuesday, 11.12.2013 / 6:00 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Briere returning to Canadiens lineup

MONTREAL -- While the Tampa Bay Lightning are learning to adjust to life without Steven Stamkos, the Montreal Canadiens will be welcoming back a key forward when the two teams face each other at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Daniel Briere will return to the lineup after missing 10 games recovering from a concussion, and he will be doing so at his natural position of center for the first time this season.

Briere will center a line with rookie Michael Bournival and Rene Bourque, taking the spot of David Desharnais, who will be a healthy scratch for the second time in a week.

"It's never easy to be out of the lineup," Briere said Tuesday. "You kind of feel like you are letting down your teammates, especially when things aren't going well. We had a bit of a bad streak where we lost four games in a row, and you feel a bit like it's your fault because you're out."

Posted On Sunday, 11.10.2013 / 5:43 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Islanders to face Canadiens without Vanek

MONTREAL – Prized acquisition Thomas Vanek (upper body) is out of the New York Islanders' lineup against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.

Vanek was hurt early in the first period of a 5-2 loss at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday after he fell awkwardly in a collision with Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky 23 seconds into his first shift of the game. He will be reevaluated after the team returns to Long Island.

"He's pretty sore," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano.

Vanek’s injury allows Brock Nelson to enter the lineup on the Islanders' top line with John Tavaresand Kyle Okposo.

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