BROSSARD - The Canadiens held an optional morning skate on Saturday morning at the Bell Sports Complex ahead of tonight’s contest against the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre. All players – with the exception of Mike Brown who took a maintenance day - decided to take advantage of the optional practice in Brossard.
“I just needed a maintenance day. I’ll be ready for tonight. I think initially I didn’t know what happened. I think it looked a lot worse than it actually was. I did the necessary treatment and I fee l good now,” expressed Brown, whose addition to the Canadiens lineup has instilled the club with a newfound level of toughness and physicality. “I was excited to come here at first. Everybody has been great to me here; the staff, management, the players. It’s been a fun ride here. I play the same style no matter where I go. I am still going to play that physical energy role. I’m glad I’ve been able to fit in here so far.”
In a rather bizarre twist, when the Habs first claimed the hard-hitting veteran off waivers from the San Jose Sharks on February 29, all Brown had to do was walk across the hall at SAP Center in San Jose where the Canadiens were practicing for their matchup against the Sharks that very night.
“I’ve only been here a short time so it’s tough, but we have other veterans and leaders in this room. I’m more of a lead by example type of guy. I just have to leave a good example for the young guys to follow with a good work ethic,” explained Brown, who recently laced up his skates for his 400th career NHL game. “It’s always fun to play at the Bell Centre. I found that out when I came in here as an opponent but I’m on the other side now and I have the Bell Centre fans on my side. Always fun to play there.”
- Before the start of Saturday’s morning skate, Daniel Carr, Brian Flynn and Brendan Gallagher all suited up to get in some extra ice-time as they continue their rehab processes.
- Having missed the last game with an upper-body injury, Sven Andrighetto will be back in the lineup on Saturday night. Andrighetto will replace Lucas Lessio, who is not available for tonight’s game after sustaining an injury against the Red Wings on Thursday night.
“It wasn’t a serious injury. Just an upper-body injury, but I feel great now and I’m ready to go tonight. I don’t know exactly where in the lineup I’ll be, but we’ll see tonight,” noted Andrighetto, who was forced to sit out the Habs last game after absorbing a couple big hits from Ottawa Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf back on March 19. “You obviously have to keep your head up out there. Dion [Phaneuf] is a big guy and I learned my lesson. He’s one of those guys that likes to step up and make those big hits. He jumps up unexpectedly but you have to be aware of him on the ice. Like I said, I learned my lesson on that one. For us we want to win every game that we play. We are professionals and we want to win every night. We’re all very competitive in this room.”
- Though he will not suit up against the Rangers, P. K. Subban skated with his teammates and remained on the ice to put in some extra work alongside Carey Price and Jacob De La Rose. With Subban still out of the lineup, blue-liners like Nathan Beaulieu will have to band together to shut down Eric Staal and the Rangers high-tempo offense.
“He just adds another threat. They were already good before they added Staal. He’s obviously one of the most dynamic power-forwards in the League and he’s proved that over the last ten years. He just makes their team a lot better,” professed Beaulieu, who has already established new career highs in goals, assists and points during the 2015-16 campaign. “For the guys who haven’t played the Rangers before, tonight will be fun to go up against all of their star players.”
- Mike Condon will be back in goal to face the Rangers. Saturday night marks the first time that the rookie starts a game against the Rangers in his career. Though the young netminder did make a brief relief appearance in favor of Carey Price, stopping all 11 shots he faced in a 5-1 win for the Habs.
Greg Pateryn, one of the blue-liners tasked with making Condon’s night easier knows Saturday night will be an important test for the Canadiens.
“Every remaining game is a test of character and we have to go out every night and battle. You can look at tonight’s game as a tough matchup or you can look at it as a good challenge and opportunity for us to show what we have in this room. Every time you step on the ice you have to put your best foot forward. I think we were on our heels a bit against Detroit and they took advantage of that,” added the Sterling Heights, Michigan native who skated 19:39 in Thursday night’s 4-3 loss to his hometown Detroit Red Wings. “The Rangers play an exceptionally fast game and they have a lot of good players but at the same it’s an opportunity to show you can play against the players on the top team. Absolutely tonight is an easy game to get pumped up for.”
The game will be broadcasted on TVA Sports, NHLN-US and SN. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the Bell Centre.
Quotes from the room
In the spotlight
The Numbers Game: March 24, 2016
Time for battle