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Game Day - Blue Jackets - January 14

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens hit the ice on Wednesday morning for an optional skate at Nationwide Arena in Columbus in preparation for their tilt against the Blue Jackets. Michel Therrien’s troops will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak. Columbus has also lost two straight. It will be the first meeting between the two teams during the 2014-15 campaign.

- After missing the last three games with an upper-body injury, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau confirmed that he will return to the Canadiens’ lineup on Wednesday night. Parenteau suffered the injury back on January 2 in New Jersey, and spent some time on injured reserve before being given the green light to return to active duty.

- Parenteau will be featured on a new line come puck drop in the Buckeye State, suiting up alongside Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Prust. It’s a similar story for all the Canadiens’ forwards, who will test out Michel Therrien’s fresh line combinations against Columbus. Lars Eller will center a line flanked by David Desharnais and Dale Weise, Tomas Plekanec will play between Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, and Manny Malhotra will center a trio with Michael Bournival and Jiri Sekac on the wing.

“When things aren’t going well offensively, it’s good to mix things up to create a spark. Sometimes, you can get a little bit too comfortable with your linemates and the production goes down. The simple fact is that having new faces around you can help you get your scoring touch back,” stressed Pacioretty, who will be looking to light the lamp for a fifth straight game on Wednesday night. “That’s the mentality that Michel wants to take into the start of the game, hoping that we can put more pucks on net. We saw it earlier this season in Vancouver. He changed the lines and it worked.”

The Canadiens’ bench boss explained that while shuffling the deck like this might appear somewhat drastic, it simply comes with the territory when a coach isn’t seeing his trios click as they should.

“It’s my responsibility to make sure that our players stay on their toes and to find solutions to generate more offense. This is a normal move for me,” confided Therrien, who, despite making moves up front, will not make any changes on the back end for Wednesday night’s game meaning that Mike Weaver will once again be a healthy scratch. “I want to see results when it comes to scoring chances. When I see a player who’s involved, even if he doesn’t score in the end, I know that by generating chances the results are going to come. When you see that a line isn’t generating chances, you have to make changes.”

- Sixteen points might separate the Canadiens and the Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference standings, but Michel Therrien’s contingent is approaching its 42nd game of the season like any other, particularly because Columbus boasts the type of talent that can defeat even the best of teams on any given night.

“They’ve been plagued by injuries. Their place in the standings doesn’t reflect the talent they have. We’ll have to play disciplined hockey because they’ve been successful with the man advantage lately,” admitted Therrien, referencing Columbus’ outstanding power play, which currently ranks second in the NHL. “We just have to play a good, tight game and take advantage of our chances.”

That’s something Lars Eller talked about, too, following the morning skate.

“We want to set the tone out there. I think we have some key assets to bring the game to their zone. We want to take charge and take control, not sit back at all,” offered Eller, who is looking for his first goal since December 29 in Carolina. “We respect them, but at the same time, we want them to adjust to us.”

- On Wednesday, young gun Jiri Sekac had his first opportunity to share his thoughts on being named to the rookie squad for the upcoming NHL All-Star Game in Columbus. Needless to say, the 22-year-old is excited to return to Ohio late next week to spend time with some of the league’s top players.

“I’m glad that it happened and I’m looking forward to it. It will be exciting to be around all of the NHL superstars. It will be a big thing for me,” praised Sekac, who will take Tanner Pearson’s spot on the roster after the Los Angeles Kings forward suffered a broken leg. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was looking forward to going on vacation. It’s big news for me. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

And, it’s safe to say that Therrien is pleased that Sekac has been given such a unique opportunity.

“It will be a good experience for him. That’s how he has to approach it. You learn a lot by learning from the best,” offered Therrien. “It will be a good weekend for him and it can only help his career.”

- Carey Price will make his 35th start of the season on Wednesday night. He holds a 2-3-1 record, a 2.81 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage in seven career outings against the Blue Jackets. Columbus will go with Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes.

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

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