- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday ahead of their tilt against the Colorado Avalanche at the Bell Centre. The Avalanche enter the game having secured just one win in their first five games of the year.
- Seventeen players took part in the on-ice session, including forwards Alex Galchenyuk, Dale Weise, Travis Moen, Jiri Sekac, Brendan Gallagher, Rene Bourque, Lars Eller, Tomas Plekanec, Brandon Prust and Manny Malhotra. Defensemen Mike Weaver, Nathan Beaulieu, Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, and Jarred Tinordi were also present, as were goaltenders Carey Price and Dustin Tokarski.
- Head coach Michel Therrien won’t be tinkering with his lineup for the tilt against Colorado, featuring the same troops that bested the Bruins in the Canadiens’ home opener on Thursday night. That means that Dale Weise will be a healthy scratch up front for a second consecutive game. As such, Travis Moen will play his third game of the season. He should line up alongside Brandon Prust and Manny Malhotra.
“I’m happy to be in. It’s never fun being out. I’m going to take it one game at the time and try to help the team win and do my job,” offered Moen, who logged 12:25 of ice time against the Bruins, while dishing out five hits along the way. “It’s the nature of the game. It’s good that the team is healthy now, but I’ll do whatever I can to stay in the lineup. Whatever role I’m given, I’ll do it.”
- While Patrick Roy’s contingent has struggled to light the lamp early in the year, the Canadiens know full well that the Avalanche boast some of the most talented offensive players in the game today, including Jarome Iginla, Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. With that in mind, defenseman Mike Weaver is adamant that one of the keys to victory will be to play a disciplined brand of hockey over the course of 60 straight minutes.
“It’s all about not taking penalties against Colorado. We need to stay out of the box. They’ve got a great power play. They’ve got some really skilled forwards. They’re a fast team, so as long as we’re getting it deep in their zone and playing more in their zone than ours, that’s our game plan,” offered Weaver, who sits tied with Nathan Beaulieu for third on the team with 11 blocked shots on the year.
The veteran rearguard also weighed in on the Canadiens’ defensive struggles through five games, stressing the fact that gelling as a cohesive unit takes time.
“I think we tightened things up last game. We’re always trying to improve. The year just started, so everyday we’re just trying to improve one or two things a game. At this point in the season, you’re not expecting to be at your peak, but we’re slowly getting there,” offered Weaver, whose squad enters Saturday night’s tilt ranked 26th in the league in goals against per game. “We need to work on a little bit of everything like sticks on pucks and better gaps. I think our forwards have done a great job in the offensive zone getting it deep. So, there are just little things that we need to keep paying attention to.”
- Rookie netminder Calvin Pickard will get the call in goal for the Avalanche on Saturday night, and the Canadiens plan on giving him a good workout from the get-go. The 22-year-old made his NHL debut on Thursday night against the Senators, tuning aside 23 of 27 shots against in a 5-3 loss in Ottawa.
“We’ll try to get to know him real quick. We’ll have to get as many shots on him as we can. Whether you know a goalie really well or you don’t know him at all, you try to get traffic, you try to get shots,” mentioned Brandon Prust, who has racked up nine penalty minutes thus far this season. “We’ll have to test him early and make him work. We’ll try to get to him early.”
Pickard, who has spent the last two seasons with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters, was called into action when backup Reto Berra was injured early in the tilt in Ottawa. Avalanche starter Semyon Varlamov is currently on injured reserve.
- Carey Price will make his fifth start of the season for the Canadiens.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.