- After recharging the batteries with a day off on Friday, the Canadiens were back on the ice in Brossard ahead of their match-up against the Ottawa Senators Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
- All players were accounted for with the exception of Devante Smith-Pelly, Brendan Gallagher and Carey Price who are currently on the injured reserve list. Torrey Mitchell returned to practice with teammates for the first time since suffering a lower body injury in mid-November.
- Dustin Tokarski will be back in goal to face the Senators Saturday night at the Bell Centre. It will be the 26-year-old goalkeeper’s second start of the season. Tokarski, who has a 0-2-0 record against Dave Cameron’s Senators, will look to improve upon his 3.09 goals-against average and save percentage of 0.917.
- At practice Alex Galchenyuk centred a line flanked by Dale Weise and Lars Eller. Meanwhile, Max Pacioretty was reunited with Tomas Plekanec on a trio completed by Paul Byron.
"When Pacioretty and Plekanec are together, at this point that’s when they have been the most productive. Your best players have to be your best players and we rely on them to contribute.” explained coach Michel Therrien about the Habs most productive duo, tied with the Tomas Fleischmann/David Desharnais, with 13 goals where both players contributed points. “Pacioretty and Galchenyuk did not score in two games, so we decided to go back to that combination that worked so well at the beginning of season.”
- Lines at practice
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Byron
Eller – Galchenyuk – Weise
Carr – Desharnais – Fleischmann
Andrighetto – Flynn – Hudon
Petry – Emelin
Gilbert - Beaulieu
Markov – Subban
Pateryn – Tinordi
- Charles Hudon will play his second career game and his first at the Bell Centre since being recalled on December 8 from the St. John’s IceCaps. If he felt nervous Thursday night in Detroit, number 54 says he will probably feel even more butterflies in his stomach but expects that Saturday night will be quite the memorable evening.
"The magic comes back every time I set foot in the Bell Centre, even when I don’t play. Since I was drafted, it is always incredible playing at the Bell Centre, even for preseason games," noted the former fifth round pick at the 2012 draft in Pittsburgh. “It's always great to be there, but tonight is going to be a big game. You have to play hard for the full 60 minutes, not just 40 minutes like last game."
On Thursday in Detroit Hudon found himself alongside Sven Andrighetto on a trio centered by Brian Flynn.
"Sven and I have known each since last year. We have played almost the entire season together and we have good chemistry on and off the ice,” provided Hudon, who collected his first NHL point Thursday night with an assist on Andrighetto’s second period goal. “He's a fast skater. When I give him the puck, his goal is to skate hard and get the puck in the zone quickly. He’s a hard worker and I think things are going well these days."
- Following Saturday morning’s practice, coach Therrien confirmed that Nathan Beaulieu will make his return to the lineup after a one game absence, replacing Greg Pateryn.
“I think I can improve all parts of my game from the way I played last couple games,” acknowledged Beaulieu who watched the Canadiens previous game against the Red Wings from the press box of the Joe Louis Arena. “Just as a defensive core we haven’t been good enough. All areas can improve. We were generating more offense at the beginning of the season. So I think we just need to get back to basics. We need to get pucks through and get bodies to the net.”
Coming off a career high 64 games played last season, the 23-year-old defenseman looks for the silver lining in an otherwise frustrating situation.
“As a pro you always have to look for the positive in things. Whether you are being sent down or called up, or having ups and downs during the season, as a pro you always have to try and find the positive in those situations. I’ve been pro for a couple years now and it’s my job and my duty to try to find the positive in the situation,” offered Beaulieu, who has already matched his point totals from last season with 9 points through the first 29 games this year. “I have time to think and regroup. Obviously my play hasn’t been up to standard so they gave me a night off to think about it.”
- Having watched back-to-back third period leads slip away against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night and the Detroit Red Wings the following evening, Jeff Petry and the Habs defense corps look to rebound tonight against the Senators.
“Throughout the course of the season you are going to go through ups and downs. I would say this is our chance to face adversity. Losing four in a row is not the ideal situation but I think it is important to show what kind of character this team has. It is not just going to happen that we just snap out of it. We have to work hard to get out of this and I think this group has the ability to do so,” explained the rearguard who recently turned 28-years-old on December 9. “I think we just need to clean up a few aspects. The last couple games we had leads in the third period and we have given up chances that have resulted in goals. It’s just a matter of when we have a lead in the third period to not give up chances. We have not been as sharp getting pucks out of the zone and teams are dangerous when you turn the puck over.”
At the beginning of the 2015-16 season timely goals from the blue-line helped propel the team to a record start to the year. With a lineup depleted by injuries, the Canadiens are looking to recapture that offensive spark.
“I do not have an explanation for why goals from the defensemen are down. Through the course of the season you will get bounces that go your way,” continued the Ann Arbor native who has three goals and eight assists to his credit this season. Obviously we have to put more pucks on net, our forwards are doing their job of getting to the net, so we as defenseman have to find a way to get more pucks through.”
- Saturday night’s contest marks the third clash between the two Atlantic Division rivals this season. The two combatants split the first two games of the season series, with both victories going the way of the road team.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on CBC, TVAS and CITY