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Game Day – Bruins – December 9

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday morning in preparation for their tilt against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre. Following the game, Michel Therrien’s troops will travel to Detroit where they’ll battle the Red Wings on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.

- Prior to the start of practice, Torrey Mitchell hit the ice in full gear along with strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard – who was also sporting full gear – to continue his rehab work on his lower-body injury. The pair worked on all the basics, and there was some contact along the boards, too.

Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu is expecting the Canadiens to come out strong against the Bruins on Wednesday night at the Bell Centre.

- After being called up from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps on Tuesday, forward Charles Hudon took part in Wednesday’s on ice session. It marked the first NHL call-up of the 21-year-old’s career. Hudon is off to a solid start in his second season in the pro ranks, having put up 10 goals and 20 points in 24 games so far this year, along with a plus-6 differential.

“When Sylvain [Lefebvre] told me the news, I didn’t really react right away. He asked me if I was happy, and I answered: ‘You’d see it on the inside. I’m really happy right now,’ shared Hudon, who is among several recent call-ups now plying their trade up front with the Canadiens, including Sven Andrighetto, Christian Thomas and Daniel Carr. “When my teammates started getting called up, I was always happy for them. Now, it’s my turn. It was worth the wait.”

Hudon, however, will not be making his NHL debut on Wednesday night. He might not be in the lineup on Thursday night, either. According to head coach Michel Therrien, the likelihood that Hudon sees game action is yet to be determined. It all depends on how the team performs going forward. That suits Hudon just fine right now.

“I’m here to learn, to be a sponge and to absorb as much as I can,” explained Hudon, who was recently named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week back on November 30, becoming the first IceCaps player to achieve the feat all year. “I have to take as much positive information as I can from the locker room and on the ice, and bring it along with me as another important experience.”

- On Wednesday night, the Canadiens will go in search of their third straight win over the Bruins so far this season – and their eighth straight regular-season victory over their Original Six rivals dating back to March 24, 2014, too. That win streak isn’t going to the Canadiens’ heads right about now, especially after dropping their last two outings to Washington and Carolina, respectively.

“Their power play is the best in the league. It’s a different Boston team than we’re used to. We know that we haven’t played our best hockey in the last few games, so it’s an opportunity for us to step up. There should be no shortage of intensity on our part,” mentioned P.K. Subban, who has picked up one assist in the Canadiens’ two previous meetings with the Bruins during the 2015-16 campaign, while logging 54:19 of total ice time. “The games against Boston always get us hyped up. There’s always a lot of energy. It shouldn’t be any different tonight.”

- Nathan Beaulieu hasn’t been pleased with his performance as of late. Amassing a combined minus-2 differential over the last two games isn’t sitting well with the 23-year-old rearguard, who is hoping to right the ship with a new defensive partner in Tom Gilbert on Wednesday night. Having already played alongside the veteran defenseman for the bulk of the year, the transition should be a relatively seamless one.

“It’s not necessarily a bad thing moving things around. We haven’t been happy with the results we’ve had the last couple of games. We’re just trying to find a little spark here and there. Change is never a bad thing when things aren’t going the way you want them to. We know that we have to step up and play a good game tonight,” shared Beaulieu, who was most recently paired with Jeff Petry on the back end. “New looks are always fun, and everyone is really comfortable playing with each other. We’re fortunate to have so much depth. We’re able to move guys around to so many different places. We’re very flexible like that. It’s a positive thing for us in this room.”

Therrien is eager to see Beaulieu respond to the test head on.

“He knows that he hasn’t met our expectations over the last two games. We expect more from him,” admitted Therrien. “It’s a challenge to work with young players. We’re looking for consistency. The challenge for young players is to have the least amount of ups and downs as possible over the course of the year.”

- Following practice, Therrien provided an update on the health status of Devante Smith-Pelly, who has been sidelined with a lower-body injury.

“It’s not a serious injury, but it’s serious enough that it’s keeping him from performing at the level that we expect of him and he expects of himself,” explained Therrien, who hasn’t been able to feature Smith-Pelly in his lineup since the Canadiens battled the Washington Capitals on December 3. “We’re going to give him a few more days to rest. We really want him to make the most of the time to get back to 100 percent.”

- Mike Condon will make his 17th start of the season on Wednesday night. Dustin Tokarski, meanwhile, will get the call between the pipes on Thursday night in Detroit.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet and RDS.

Probable lineup against Boston:

Pacioretty – Galchenyuk – Andrighetto
Eller – Plekanec – Byron
Fleischmann - Desharnais – Weise
Carr – Flynn – Thomas

Subban – Markov
Emelin – Petry
Gilbert – Beaulieu
Tinordi – Pateryn

SEE ALSO
Words From The Room - December 9
Game Preview: Canadiens vs Bruins 
Spreading some joy 
Changing on the fly 

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