- The Canadiens hit the ice at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Monday morning ahead of their game against the Blue Jackets.
- P.K. Subban was the only Hab not on the ice for practice, missing Monday’s skate with a virus. He will be a game-time decision in Columbus. If Subban does miss Monday’s game, it will mark the first time he’s been out of the lineup for illness or injury reasons since he made his NHL debut on Feb. 12, 2010, making the 26-year-old assistant captain the team’s current Iron Man, with 254 consecutive games played.
“We’ll see how he feels tonight. He didn’t feel good yesterday, but he felt a little bit better this morning,” confirmed head coach Michel Therrien. “He’s started eating, which is a good sign. But we’ll see how he feels tonight and we’ll take a decision from there.”
- After skating with the group for the last few practices, Tom Gilbert continues to inch closer to returning from his lower-body injury. Therrien confirmed that if Subban is not able to play in Columbus, Gilbert or Greg Pateryn would replace him in the lineup.
- After turning the page on a tough stretch that saw the team go 5-16-1 dating back to Dec. 1, the Habs will be looking to build on Saturday’s shootout win in Toronto with a second-straight road victory – something the team hasn’t been able to accomplish since posting back-to-back wins in New York and New Jersey on Nov. 27 and 28, respectively.
“Before the Toronto game, our focus was that we wanted a total reset. It’s the same thing tonight,” said Brendan Gallagher, who has five points in nine games since returning from surgery to repair two broken fingers. “You can’t really pay attention to the standings or what’s going on around the league. We can only take care of ourselves. It’s an important game – a road game – and we only have a couple of games left before the break so we want to get some points here. It starts tonight with a good effort so we can go into the break feeling good about ourselves.”
- With just three goals on their last 34 power play opportunities and currently sitting 24th in the league with a 17.2 percent power play efficiency, it was no surprise to see the Habs making some tweaks on the man advantage on Monday morning.
“If there’s an aspect of our game where I believe we have to be better, it’s the power play. We’re going to try different things tonight, but we need better reads and better execution. We’re going to go with a different format to give ourselves a chance to have more success, but definitely we need to attack the zone with a lot more speed,” explained Therrien, who had David Desharnais and Tomas Plekenac taking turns on the point during the morning skate. “We’re standing still too much. We’re going to make some adjustments there, but at the end of the day, it’s good reads and good execution.”
- Both teams will be without their Vezina Trophy-winning starting netminders on Monday night, with Carey Price and Sergei Bobrovsky both sidelined with lower body injuries. Mike Condon will start for the Habs, while fellow rookie Joonas Korpisalo will be between the pipes for the Blue Jackets.
“It’s never easy to lose your No. 1 goalie, there’s no doubt about that,” admitted Therrien, who has been forced to play without his All-Star starter in the lineup for 25 games already this season. “But if you look at the Blue Jackets, they’re still fighting. Forget about their first 10 games – they had a really tough start – but since then, they’ve been in the middle of the pack with everyone. They work hard. They have forwards who can score goals, they’ve got talented, young defensemen, and it’s a challenge to miss their goalie like it is for us, but this is a team that works very hard.”
- In addition to their starting goalie, the Blue Jackets will also be without the services of head coach John Tortorella on Monday and Tuesday night after the Columbus bench boss was accidently taken out by one of his players during an outdoor practice and suffered a pair of broken ribs – something Therrien understands all too well.
“It happened to me twice in my career where I had broken ribs,” recalled Therrien, who was accidently knocked over from behind by Ryan White in Brossard on Feb. 4, 2014, after breaking three ribs on a similar accidental spill during a practice while coaching the Penguins a few years earlier. “I don’t know how Torts feels, but if he’s not there, he must be in a lot of pain. I was behind the bench and it was not easy. I’m sure he’s really well surrounded and the coaches will prepare their team well.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST at Nationwide Arena and will be broadcast on Sportsnet East, RDS, 98,5 FM, and TSN 690.
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