- After a day off on Wednesday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of their tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre. The Habs will be looking to extend their current winning streak to four games. Michel Therrien’s troops have downed the Blue Jackets in both of their previous meetings earlier this season.
- Carey Price will likely make his 51st start of the season on Thursday night. The 26-year-old is 2-2-1 with a 2.76 GAA and a .902 save percentage in five career appearances against Columbus, who will likely counter with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes.
“Not too long ago, Bobrovsky was named the best goalie in the league. He’s definitely doing something right,” confided Alex Galchenyuk, referencing the Blue Jackets’ starter, who has compiled a 26-17-4 record and a 2.49 GAA in 47 games during the 2013-14 campaign. “You’ve got to be aggressive against him. You’ve always got to be in front of the net, and not make the job too easy for him because if you do he’s going to steal some games.”
- After skating for about 10 minutes on Thursday morning, Brandon Prust left the ice and returned to the Canadiens’ dressing room. In his post-practice press conference, the Habs bench boss addressed Prust’s status for the game against Columbus.
“Brandon Prust will not play tonight. He’s suffering from an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated on a day-to-day basis,” offered Therrien, who saw Prust most recently return to action on Mar. 12 after missing seven games due to injury.
“We need a centerman and we made the decision to go with Ryan White,” added Therrien, who will feature White on a line with Dale Weise and Travis Moen.
It will be White’s first taste of action since the Mar. 12 tilt against the Bruins at the Bell Centre. He had been a healthy scratch for the Habs’ ensuing three games.
- Aside from White drawing into the lineup in the absence of Prust, the Canadiens will likely field the same lineup that bested the Avalanche 6-3 on Tuesday night. Forwards Rene Bourque and George Parros will likely be healthy scratches, as will defenseman Douglas Murray.
- Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards has his club playing good hockey as of late. Columbus is 6-3-1 in their last 10 games and currently hold the second wild-card position in the Eastern conference with 76 points.
Galchenyuk knows full well that the Blue Jackets are entering Thursday night’s tilt hungry as they continue their quest to turn the tables on a four-year playoff drought. With a dozen games left on the Canadiens' regular season schedule, the NHL sophomore understands the importance of defending home ice and not giving any opponent a free pass in their own barn.
“It’s getting close the playoffs. These games are crucial. There’s two points on the line, and especially playing in front of our fans you always want to get the W. I’m sure they want to come in here and get the two points, too. It’s our job not to give it away,” noted Galchenyuk, who has 12 goals and 27 points in 55 games thus far this season. “I think that they’re a different team now than they were when we played them a while back. I think standings-wise, they’re a more competitive team now. They want to play every shift like it’s their last. They want those two points, but we’re the team that doesn’t want to give them away easily. You know that there are 12 games left and anything can happen. Every point is crucial.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST.
Projected lineup vs. Columbus