- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of their second preseason game against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre.
- A notable group of Canadiens regulars will take part in Thursday night’s contest, including Lars Eller, David Desharnais, Alex Galchenyuk, Brian Flynn, Dale Weise, Andrei Markov, Tom Gilbert, P.K. Subban and Nathan Beaulieu. The Bell Centre faithful will also have their first chance to cheer on the likes of Alexander Semin and Tomas Fleischmann for the first time in a preseason contest. Incidentally, both players suited up for the Capitals at some point over the course of their respective NHL careers.
- The Eller-Galchenyuk-Semin line will be put to the test for the first time on Thursday night. Featuring two players – in Eller and Galchenyuk – still trying to adapt to new positions, and another in Semin trying to get accustomed to his new surroundings, chances to fine-tune their chemistry in game situations are invaluable heading into the regular season.
“We’re excited to go out there and play a real game. It will be good for everybody. We’re having fun together. I’ve played with Alex [Galchenyuk] before. I knew I had good chemistry with him before, and Semin has fit in nicely. We’re holding on to the puck, making plays and having fun,” offered Eller, referencing the success of the trio thus far in intra-squad action, and his ongoing adjustment to his new role as a left-winger, too. “I think we can all pass and we can all finish. We’re all good skaters. Semin has shown in the past that he can certainly shoot. I think that it’s the strongest asset he’s got, the fact that he can finish. He can do unexpected things that few players can.”
- For the first time since the start of training camp, Max Pacioretty skated alongside his teammates. He will not, however, be in the lineup against Washington as he continues to recover from a knee injury.
- A few youngsters will try to impress the Canadiens’ brass on Thursday night. Michael McCarron will be back in the lineup after scoring the CH’s lone goal against Toronto, while Christian Thomas, Sven Andrighetto, Connor Crisp, Charles Hudon, Jarred Tinordi and Brett Lernout will also be plying their trade on home ice.
For their part, Crisp, Hudon and Lernout will be playing their first preseason game of the year. Needless to stay, trying to stop superstar Alex Ovechkin should prove to be a tough task.
“I’m going to focus on playing my game. That’s how I went about taking on a player like Sidney Crosby. I need to keep playing my style of game and play like I know I can. I’ve gone up against top players during my career, like at the World Junior Hockey Championship when I played against [Nail] Yakupov. I was responsible for keeping him off the scoresheet. I just need to keep everything I’ve done well in the past in mind and put it to good use,” shared Hudon, who was the Hamilton Bulldogs’ second-leading point-getter in 2014-15 with 57 points in 75 games. “I’m excited to get out there. I feel like I’m gaining confidence with every practice and with every game I play. This game will be good for me.”
- Skating on a line with Brian Flynn and Sven Andrighetto, Hudon has been looking forward to making his preseason debut after putting in plenty of work over the summer in order to secure a roster spot with the Canadiens come early October. The fact that he’ll be able to count on the presence of Andrighetto alongside him could prove very beneficial on Thursday night.
“Playing with Sven will make things easier. We played together since the start of last season in Hamilton. We know each other well, so much so that we really don’t have to talk on the ice,” explained Hudon, who was a fifth-round selection of the Canadiens back in 2012. “When we say something, it’s like we understand each other right away.”
- After Carey Price and Zachary Fucale shared the goaltending duties on Tuesday night against the Maple Leafs, Dustin Tokarski and Mike Condon will get the call between the pipes against Washington. They’ll be trying to deny the likes of Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson and Evgeny Kuznetsov, all of whom are making the trip to Montreal.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS.
Forward lines and D pairings at the morning skate: