- The Canadiens skated at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Saturday morning in preparation for their tilt against the Blues. All players were present and accounted for during the on-ice session, except for newcomer Victor Bartley who arrived at the rink a short time before the skate began.
- Bartley, who was acquired in the Jarred Tinordi trade on Friday, met with members of the media in St. Louis to share his thoughts on the transaction.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to play for the Montreal Canadiens. It’s a dream come true to be able to play for a Canadian team,” shared Bartley, an Ottawa native, who’s been plying his trade with the Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate in Milwaukee this season. “I was kind of just lying in bed there in San Antonio [when the trade happened], and friends just kept calling me at the time. I didn’t know what was going on yet. I kept seeing things on Twitter about it, and then my agent called me about 20 minutes later to give me the good news. When I heard it was Montreal, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.”
Given Nashville’s depth on the back end, the four-year NHL veteran played in just one game with the big club this season. Interestingly enough, the 27-year-old is familiar with former Habs rearguard Francis Bouillon, who used to patrol the blue line in Music City USA, too.
“I met him in Nashville a few years ago and I saw him play,” shared Bartley, who amassed one assist in 14 games with Milwaukee in 2015-16. “We definitely have similar roles. We’re both smaller players, good skaters with good battle level and we like to compete. It’s definitely an opportunity I’m looking forward to.”
For his part, head coach Michel Therrien believes Bartley can be an important asset on the back end.
“He has a certain amount of NHL experience. He’s a defenseman that people within the organization really like. He plays well defensively and makes a good first pass,” explained Therrien, who wants to give Bartley a bit of time to learn the Canadiens’ system before giving him a start. “He brings some depth to our D core.”
- Captain Max Pacioretty, meanwhile, was very complimentary of Tinordi on Saturday morning following his departure for Arizona.
“Jarred Tinordi has been one of my favourite players to play with in my entire life. He’s such a good friend and teammate,” praised Pacioretty, who was sorry to see the towering defenseman go, but happy for him being given a new opportunity with the Coyotes. “He wanted to show what he’s made of. There’s never a hard feeling with Jarred. I don’t think anybody could have handled the situation like he did this year. He’s a true professional.”
- Dale Weise returns to the Canadiens’ lineup on Saturday night after missing the last four games with an upper-body injury. To say that No. 22 has been chomping at the bit to return to active duty is an understatement. You’ll recall that Weise suffered the injury during the Winter Classic back on New Year’s Day.
“It’s been frustrating, just not being a part of it. Regardless if we’re winning or losing, you want to be a part of it, you want to be around the boys,” mentioned Weise, who has 11 goals and 20 points in 40 games so far this year. “When you’re injured, you’re kind of on your own program. You come in early and you don’t see the boys a lot. That’s my favourite part about this. You get to hang with the boys every day, so I’ve definitely missed that.”
Weise will be featured on a line with Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais. Therrien believes his return has the potential to create an important spark against St. Louis.
“Dale has a very important role on our team,” praised Therrien, who is counting on the line to bring some added scoring punch on Saturday night. “He brings energy, he plays a physical brand of hockey, and it’s tough to play against him. David and Dale have good chemistry together.”
Having taken in the last few games from afar, Weise insists that getting back on track begins with another strong effort similar to the one the Canadiens managed to string together in their previous outing against Chicago on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
“I really liked the way we played against Chicago. If we play like that, we’re going to win hockey games. We’ve got some guys that can score in here that aren’t scoring right now. It’s only a matter time. It doesn’t take much to get that confidence back,” offered Weise, who will be looking to pick up his first tally since Dec. 28 against Tampa. “One game, you start scoring, and everybody is feeling good about themselves. We’re looking at the positives. We want to come out tonight, have a good effort, and just try to build something and get going here.”
- Jacob De La Rose, meanwhile, will be back in the Canadiens’ lineup for the first time this season. Called up on Friday from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps, De La Rose will play alongside Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn on Saturday night.
“I’m really excited. I worked hard so I’d be good enough to get here,” shared De La Rose, who has two goals and nine points in 24 games with Sylvain Lefebvre’s squad this season. “I think all players want to be in the NHL, the same for me. I knew it could happen, and it happened. I’ve been working on my game in the minors. I’m just excited to be here again. The most important thing for me is that I play the right way out there and help the team to win.”
- Mike Condon will get the start in goal for the Canadiens. The Blues will counter with Brian Elliott between the pipes.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on TVA Sports, Rogers Sportsnet, Fox Sports Midwest and the NHL Network.
Probable lineup against St. Louis:
De La Rose-Mitchell-Flynn
Words From The Room - Jan. 16
Game Preview: Canadiens vs Blues
Statement from general manager Marc Bergevin regarding Friday's trade
Canadiens announced the acquisition of Victor Bartley and John Scott from Arizona