- The Canadiens held a morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday ahead of their tilt against the Vancouver Canucks at the Bell Centre. The Habs will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak, while the Canucks will be playing the final game of a seven-game road trip that began back on November 28.
- Prior to Tuesday night’s game, the Canadiens will pay tribute to Hall-of-Famer Jean Béliveau, who passed away last week at the age of 83. It will be undoubtedly be an emotional night for all involved, including Michel Therrien’s troops, all of whom had great admiration for what the Trois-Riviéres native accomplished both on and off the ice.
“It’s absolutely added motivation. We’ve been talking about it for a few days now. Going to the wake on Monday was something special. When you hear how everyone talks about Mr. Béliveau, nobody ever says a bad word about him. In my mind, he embodies what it means to be a member of the Montreal Canadiens,” offered Manny Malhotra, before going on to say that the team will play Tuesday night’s game in Béliveau’s honor. “He embodied the mentality of a champion. Our effort will represent the essence of Jean Béliveau.”
- After being called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Monday, defenseman Nathan Beaulieu took part in the morning skate alongside his teammates. The 22-year-old rearguard, who was sent down to the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate on November 24, will be featured in Michel Therrien’s lineup on Tuesday night for the first time since November 18 against the Penguins.
“It’s not easy to stay here, especially on such a good hockey club. When you’re given opportunities like this, it’s really important to grasp them and make the most of them,” offered Beaulieu, who has two assists and a minus-3 differential in 14 games with the Canadiens this season. “This time, I felt like I needed a few games down in Hamilton. I wasn’t playing a whole lot. Sometimes, you lose a few aspects of your game. I went down and I played lots of hockey. I got my confidence and a little bit of my swagger back. I was more offensive, like I usually am. I thought I played good hockey, so it was important to go down for a few games and get that mental aspect back before I came back here. It was really good for me. ”
Beaulieu will take Bryan Allen’s spot in the lineup. Allen, who missed Monday’s practice due to illness, did not take part in the morning skate on Tuesday and was placed on injured reserve.
- In the absence of Lars Eller, head coach Michel Therrien elected to juggle his forward lines at practice on Monday. The Canadiens’ bench boss will utilize those new line combinations against Willie Desjardins’ club on Tuesday night. Alex Galchenyuk will center a line with wingers Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty.
“We want to get him going from the start. I’ve talked to Alex. We don’t want him to change his style of play. We want him to stay himself and to be creative. We want him to make good decisions. It’s the same message, whether he’s at center or on the wing,” mentioned Therrien. “Whether it’s in the offensive zone, the neutral zone or in our own end, whether you’re the first, second or third player in there, there’s a certain way to react. The only thing that can change in Alex’s case is that he’ll have possession of the puck more often in the neutral zone. He needs to make sure that he reads the play the right way. We don’t want to put any additional pressure on him.”
With the return of Michael Bournival to the Canadiens’ lineup, the solid play of Sven Andrighetto in Dallas, and the lack of offense as of late, Therrien also made several other tweaks that he hopes will prove to be productive against Vancouver.
“Having new linemates on your left and your right sides forces players to communicate. Instead of always wearing the same pair of shoes, putting on a fresh pair sometimes helps out. It forces communication and attention to detail. A lot of small things can come from it that can be beneficial,” explained Therrien, who will feature Andrighetto alongside Tomas Plekanec and Jiri Sekac, in addition to Bournival on a line with Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau and David Desharnais.
The fourth line will consist of Manny Malhotra at center, alongside wingers Brandon Prust and Dale Weise.
“Sometimes, it’s good to mix things up a little bit,” stressed Prust. “It’s exciting to play with new guys. It brings a different sort of energy. We can try new things. It never hurts.”
- Defenseman Mike Weaver will not suit up against the Canucks on Tuesday night. He suffered a concussion in Saturday night’s loss against the Stars in Dallas. For his part, Lars Eller, who was injured in last Friday night’s tilt in Chicago, will be re-evaluated by team doctors on Tuesday.
- Carey Price will make his 24th start of the season on Tuesday night. Price boasts a 5-1-2 record against Vancouver over the course of his NHL career, in addition to a 2.34 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. Ryan Miller will get the start in goal for the Canucks.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Pacific and RDS.
Forward lines at the morning skate:
Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Canucks
A fitting tribute
Searching for a spark