BROSSARD - In Thursday's practice notebook, Alex Galchenyuk has new linemates, Nathan Beaulieu and Jeff Petry are reunited, and the latest on Andrei Markov's recovery.
Switching things up: The Canadiens hit the ice at the Bell Sports Complex on Thursday afternoon before departing for New Jersey, and head coach Michel Therrien made one line change in particular up front that caught everyone's eye.
After Alex Galchenyuk had been featured primarily between captain Max Pacioretty and Russian sniper Alexander Radulov since returning to active duty from an extended absence three games ago, he found himself centering a line flanked by Andrew Shaw and Sven Andrighetto to begin the on-ice session.
Video: Alex Galchenyuk on his new line
In his post-practice press conference, Therrien said that the decision to switch things up with respect to the Canadiens' No. 27 came in response to his general lack of success on both sides of the puck as of late.
"It's plain to see that Alex isn't playing at the same level he was at the beginning of the season, not just offensively, but defensively, too," said Therrien. "We take a measure of responsibility for that since we decided to bring him back right away. We recognize that he hasn't found that level of play again yet. We've made adjustments and when we see that he's back playing the way he's capable of playing, we'll make more. Right now, we have to adjust."
For his part, Galchenyuk took the move in stride. After all, he was sidelined for 14 games with a knee injury before returning to the lineup last Saturday night against the New York Rangers, so it was obviously going to take some time for him to find his rhythm again.
"I didn't expect anything [when I got back to playing]. I just wanted to get back on the ice healthy," said Galchenyuk, who scored a goal in the 5-4 comeback win over the Rangers, but has been held off the scoresheet since. "I knew that things would take some time, but I'm just trying to go out there and play my game. Sometimes, it pays off. Sometimes, it doesn't."
If the line does stay intact for Friday night's tilt against the Devils at the Prudential Center, the 22-year-old forward believes it certainly has the potential to deliver.
"I played with Ghetto last year down the stretch when Gally [Brendan Gallagher] got injured. He's a skilled forward. He skates with the puck well and he sees the ice well, so hopefully we'll have that chemistry because we played pretty well last year," praised Galchenyuk, before expanding on Shaw. "With Shawzy, you know what to expect from him night in and night out. You know you have to go out there and try to produce."
Back together again: Nathan Beaulieu, meanwhile, was reunited with Jeff Petry on the back end on Thursday.
It's another move Therrien is hoping will jumpstart a Canadiens' offense that has been held to just one goal in their last two games, both of which resulted in losses to the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively.
"Wherever I'm playing, we're trying to balance out our pairings right now," said Beaulieu, who has been held without a point in four straight games. "Things aren't working as we want them to. Wherever I'm playing, I know what I need to do. I don't consider it an up or down [situation], I just go out and play my game wherever I'm playing."
Video: Nathan Beaulieu on being reunited with Jeff Petry
As for his thoughts on the Canadiens' play as of late - particularly on Monday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena and Wednesday night at the Bell Centre - Beaulieu is adamant that the entire group needs to be better.
"Very subpar. Not good enough," shared Beaulieu, on the subject of the Canadiens' two most recent outings. "We're not generating right now. We go through stints like that through the year. There's no panic in our game, though. Not scoring goals is frustrating, but we did it early on, so we know we're capable of doing it. It just means that we need to be better defensively if things aren't going in the net for us right now."
Injury update: When asked about the health status of Andrei Markov on Thursday, Therrien admitted that the veteran rearguard is still being plagued by the lower-body injury that has forced him to miss 15 straight games dating back to December 20.
"I expected him to be close to coming back when he skated with us in Toronto, but there hasn't really been any improvement," confirmed Therrien, who was visibly disappointed to report that Markov isn't making further progress at this point in time. "When we saw that he wasn't improving, we decided to take things more slowly. When he's back on the ice again, we're hoping to see more progress than before."
Video: Michel Therrien on line changes at practice