- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sunday morning ahead of contesting their preseason game against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre. It was an optional practice for players who will suit up on Sunday evening.
- The Habs will dress just three prospects on Sunday evening, including forwards Jiri Sekac and Christian Thomas, and defenseman Jarred Tinordi.
- In the Canadiens’ last preseason outing on Friday night in Quebec City, head coach Michel Therrien fielded a relatively young lineup against the Colorado Avalanche. That won’t be the case on Sunday evening, however, as the Habs’ bench boss will give his regulars a chance to get back to work against the Capitals in front of the Bell Centre faithful. For their part, Washington has also elected to bring a host of veterans on the trip to Montreal, including Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Orpik, among others. That suggests that fans will be treated to a good matchup with the start of the regular season just 10 days away.
While Therrien’s troops are cognizant of which players they go up against on any given night during the preseason, they aren’t necessarily game planning around them, per say, focusing instead on fine-tuning their system and how they play as a cohesive unit.
“The fact that they’re coming to town with a veteran lineup doesn’t change anything for us. We don’t put too much thought in terms of who’s in the other lineup at this point in the season or throughout the entire season,” offered Manny Malhotra, who boasts 933 games of NHL experience. “Our mentality has to be on what we have in this room, how we play, the effort we bring and how we execute. You never really think about who they’re bringing to town. It’s all about us.”
Nevertheless, the 15-year NHL veteran fully expects Washington to bring their ‘A’ game come Sunday evening, even if it’s only a preseason matchup. It’s only natural given that the 2014-15 campaign is set to begin in early October.
“I think games automatically do step up. There’s that feeling of urgency as those games start winding down and game one of the regular season starts creeping closer,” confided Malhotra. “Guys get a little bit sharper. The intensity is upped out there. The physicality is upped out there. I don’t think anything needs to be said or spoken. It’s just something that happens.”
- After suiting up for both preseason tilts against the Avalanche, David Desharnais will get the night off against the Capitals. In his absence, Alex Galchenyuk will assume the veteran pivot’s spot at center between Max Pacioretty and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau.
“It will be fun to play with Galchenyuk. He’s had a good training camp up until this point, and he’s done some really nice things at center,” praised Parenteau. “That’s how training camp works. David played in Quebec the other night, and I think he deserves his day off. It will be fun. They’re different players. Patch and I are ready for that.”
Having spent the last two seasons competing in the Western Conference as a member of the Avalanche, Parenteau also chimed in on what impact he believes new Capitals head coach Barry Trotz will have in the District of Columbia.
“I think Barry Trotz will really change the identity and the overall strategy of the Capitals. He’s proven that his system works, and what he brings to the table has worked everywhere he’s been,” offered Parenteau, who went up against Trotz’s former club, the Nashville Predators, time and again during his stint in the Mile High City. “They’ll be a better team because of it. I don’t doubt that. It will only lead to good things for Washington down the road.”
- After being given the night off against the Avalanche on Friday, goaltenders Carey Price and Peter Budaj will be back in the lineup for the Canadiens on Sunday evening. Braden Holtby and Justin Peters could split time in goal for Washington.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. EST.