WASHINGTON – The Habs held an optional morning skate at the Verizon Center on Friday.
Despite the session being optional, player turnout was large, with only Tomas Plekanec, Daniel Briere and Ryan White opting for a treatment day rather than going on the ice. There will be no changes to the Habs’ forward lines for Friday night.
Peter Budaj will make his fifth start of the season for the visiting team. Carey Price will be back in action Saturday night against the Penguins at the Bell Centre.
With two matches in 24 hours on the schedule, head coach Michel Therrien decided to give a day off to 38 year-old veteran Francis Bouillon. In his place will be Douglas Murray, who has been a healthy scratch for the past two games. Therrien did mention that Bouillon will return to the lineup the following night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We have seven healthy defensemen and I don’t want to leave a guy like Douglas Murray off the ice too long,” stated Therrien regarding the hulking Swede. “It’s a discussion we’ve had since Emelin returned to the lineup. At 38 years of age, we have to keep in mind that the season is a long one. Bouillon will be in the lineup tomorrow.”
On his end, Douglas Murray is happy with the decision and will look to slow down the powerful Capitals offence led by Alex Ovechkin. Despite sitting out against the Rangers and the Wild, he assures that there isn’t much rust to be shaken off.
“It’s not something that’s out of the ordinary, since I’ve missed some time with injury earlier this season. You just prepare yourself to the best of your ability and be ready to go,” offered Murray, who is always up for a challenge. “It’s a great scenario to face Ovechkin. I’m looking forward to playing and to make a good impression.”
Canadiens blueliner Raphael Diaz, known a highly cerebral two-way player, took some time after practice to explain the differences in style between Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, two of the most talented forwards in the league and the headliners for the Habs’ next two adversaries.
“For Ovechkin, you’ll have to be aware when he’s on the ice, for sure. He has a good shot, a good one-timer. You’ll always have to keep an eye on him,” asserts Diaz about the Russian all-star, who is Washington’s main trigger man, averaging six shots per game so far this season. “Ovechkin is bigger, he’s a winger so he’ll be more on the forecheck, looking to use his speed and his physicality.”
“Crosby is a centerman so he’ll play a bit more behind his winger. He is definitely a great passer, so that’s something we’ll have to watch out for as well,” added Diaz, noting the potency of Crosby’s elite calibre supporting cast in Pittsburgh.
“We’ll take it game by game. Tonight we want to be ready for Washington, and tomorrow is another game, another big team,” Montreal’s number 61 concluded. “In the meantime it’s important to get two points tonight.”
Game preview: Canadiens @ Capitals
A challenge awaits