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Game Day - Blackhawks - September 25

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- After dropping a 4-3 shootout decision to the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday morning in preparation for their third preseason contest against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Bell Centre.

- For a second straight day, Max Pacioretty took part in the morning skate. The Canadiens’ captain continues to recover from a knee injury sustained over the summer.

- Head coach Michel Therrien’s lineup will include a mix of veterans and young guns on Friday night. Tomas Plekanec, Torrey Mitchell, Devante Smith-Pelly, Brian Flynn, Brendan Gallagher and Zack Kassian will be among those lacing up their skates up front, while Jeff Petry, Alexei Emelin and Nathan Beaulieu will be among those patrolling the blue line. Forwards Jeremy Gregoire, Charles Hudon and Daniel Carr will also play. Carey Price and Zachary Fucale are the designated goaltenders for the CH.

- Following a successful 15-year career in the NHL, including 11 as a member of the Canadiens, defenseman Francis Bouillon made his retirement official on Friday morning. Many former teammates were eager to share their thoughts on the rearguard’s impressive run in the NHL ranks.

“He was a great player and a great teammate with the size that he had. He was tough. He was reliable as a defenseman. It was great to have him on the team,” offered Plekanec, who had two opportunities to play with Bouillon over the years in Montreal, most recently when the 39-year-old re-joined the CH for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 campaigns. “He was moving the puck. He was shooting the puck. He was the full package. When you played with him, it was so easy. He had everything - first pass, shot, tough to play against. Everything you can name of, he had under his belt.”

Nathan Beaulieu is among many players who had great things to say about Francis Bouillon in Brossard on Friday.

Beaulieu offered up similar thoughts about Bouillon, who served not only as a mentor but an important role model, too.

“I played my first game alongside him. Frankie Boo is a special guy. Great career. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve seen. He’s just a great guy and he’s easy to talk to. He was a great team guy. It sucks to see his career end. I wish him all the best,” shared Beaulieu, who is still in the veritable infancy of his NHL career. “He wasn’t afraid of anybody. He was always there. It didn’t matter the size of the opponent, he always stuck up for his teammates. He threw his body around. He wasn’t the tallest guy, but he had a big heart.”

Needless to say, Bouillon was particularly special to fellow Quebec native David Desharnais.

“When I started training in Quebec, Francis was there. He’s a guy I watched a lot when I was younger. He’s one of the reasons I wear No. 51, too. I’ve got some great memories of him,” mentioned Desharnais, who, like Bouillon, worked his way through the QMJHL ranks growing up. “He’s a warrior. Every time he fought or delivered a big hit, I was probably his biggest fan. When I was younger, I would watch him on television. He was one of my favourite players. I’m very happy that I had the opportunity to play with him.”

- Youngster Brett Lernout will make his second straight preseason start on Friday night. The 20-year-old defenseman, who logged 14:27 of ice time against the Capitals, says playing alongside Nathan Beaulieu helped ease things along in his debut.

“I thought I played really well out there. Nathan made the game a lot easier for me. He gave me a lot more time to make plays and think things out. He’s a great D partner and I’m glad I can play with him [against Chicago],” praised Lernout, who put up 14 goals and 42 points in 72 games with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos last season, before suiting up for six AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs. “I was nervous a little last night, but I feel more comfortable now. I’m going to go out there and hopefully it will be the same thing.”

For his part, Beaulieu didn’t shy away from offering up some words of wisdom to his up-and-coming defense partner.

“I told him not to get too overconfident because he was good the first night,” joked Beaulieu. “He was really good, though. He knows what to do. He’s a big kid with poise. It’s tough to find that. I thought he was great with his first game. I think he’s only going to get better.”

- Training camp invitee Nicolas Blanchard will get his first chance to strut his stuff in front of the Canadiens’ brass on Friday night. The 28-year-old forward – who was a sixth-round selection of the Carolina Hurricanes back in 2005 – will be playing a competitive game at the Bell Centre for the first time.

Nicolas Blanchard is excited to make his Bell Centre debut on Friday night in front of family and friends.

“I’m realizing a childhood dream. When I was called up by the Hurricanes, I didn’t get a chance to play here. I’m really excited for the game,” offered Blanchard, who registered three goals and 14 points in 63 games with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps last season. “I’ve got a lot of family and friends who will be there. I’m going to enjoy the moment, take one shift at a time and focus on the game.”

Blanchard, who boasts just nine career NHL games on his resume, is committed to making the most of the opportunity the Canadiens have presented him with.

“The dream to play in the NHL just won’t go away. I’m 28 years old. I know myself as a player. I know what I have to do,” explained Blanchard, who was a teammate of David Desharnais in Chicoutimi while the pair was plying their trade in the QMJHL in the early 2000s. “The last eight years in the AHL have really served me well. I want to force Marc [Bergevin’s] hand. It’s one of my dreams to play for the Canadiens someday.”

- The Blackhawks will be bringing goaltenders Scott Darling and Mac Carruth to Montreal. Up front, they’ll feature the likes of Andrew Desjardins, Viktor Tikhonov, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Daniel Paille, Thomas Kopecky and Marko Dano, while Trevor Daley, David Rundblad, Jan Hejda and Lubomir Visnovsky will be among those players on defense.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS.

Words From The Room - September 25
Game Preview: Canadiens vs Blackhawks
Francis Bouillon officially announces his retirement as an active NHL player
Sweet 15

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