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Game Day – Coyotes – November 19

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens held an optional skate on Thursday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard ahead of their tilt against the Arizona Coyotes. Immediately after the game, Michel Therrien’s troops will travel to New York where they’ll battle the Islanders at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday night.

- On Wednesday afternoon, Therrien announced that Alexander Semin would be a healthy scratch for Thursday night’s contest. Torrey Mitchell will take his place on a line with Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller. Meanwhile, Brian Flynn will center the fourth line flanked by Paul Byron and Devante Smith-Pelly.

- Defenseman Alexei Emelin will miss a third straight game with a lower-body injury. Therrien already confirmed that the Russian rearguard wouldn’t be playing any of the Canadiens’ games over the weekend. That means that he’ll miss at least the next three games.

- For their part, the Coyotes arrive in Montreal in the midst of a four-game road trip. They’ve dropped their last two outings, but they arrive in town boasting two of the top young guns in the NHL today in rookies Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. The pair has been a sparkplug on offense for Arizona during the early part of the 2015-16 campaign. Needless to say, the Canadiens are well aware of what they’re capable of. While Domi ranks second among the league’s rookies with 16 points through 18 games, Duclair sits seventh, chipping in with 11 points on his own.

“They’ve got lots of speed and lots of youth. I mean, youth is scary in this league. When you have young players playing well, they kind of feel untouchable which can be scary defending. The Coyotes are kind of like Tampa. They skate well. It’s going to be another exciting game. It’ll be another challenge tonight,” offered Nathan Beaulieu, who, at 22 years of age, has a healthy respect for what 20-year-old Domi and 20-year-old Duclair have accomplished early on in their respective NHL careers. “They’re both highly-skilled, quick guys. It seems like that’s where the game is headed right now, with speed, skill and quickness. I’m not surprised at all with the success they’ve had. It’s good for the game.”

Brendan Gallagher isn’t necessarily surprised by their achievements, either. The 23-year-old winger believes it’s a by-product of a consistent work ethic both on and off the ice – something he definitely knows a lot about.

“It isn’t easy to have success when you’re a younger guy. The only way to explain it is that they’re just good players. They play consistent hockey and they work hard. They earn the confidence of the coaching staff,” explained Gallagher, who is in his fourth season in the NHL ranks, and was a Calder Trophy candidate back in 2012-13. “When you get to the league as a youngster, your first goal is earning the confidence of your coach and your teammates. Those guys play well, and battle night after night to have an impact for their team.”

- The Canadiens’ power play has struggled to produce goals over the last three games, going 1-for-12 during that span. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t clicking, though. Last time out against Vancouver on Monday night, the man advantage certainly gave the CH life when it seemed like they were in trouble down 3-0 early in the second period. It had the flow and energy they were looking for. Defenseman Jeff Petry thinks it’s headed in the right direction.

“Our power play moves the puck well. We get our scoring chances. It’s just a question of time before we manage to score. If we don’t score, it allows us to generate momentum for the rest of the game,” mentioned Petry, referencing a Canadiens power play that currently ranks fourth in the league after finding the back of the net 23.9 percent of the time on the year. “We all know we can score. The goals are going to come in waves eventually. We have to keep the same structure and keep persevering.”

- The Canadiens are coming off some tough starts as of late, but that isn’t something they’re dwelling on right now. Heading into Thursday night’s tilt against Arizona, the focus remains on playing a good game from start to finish. Period.

“We’re more worried about playing a full game right now. I feel like the worst thing you can do is say – ‘O.K. When we go out there, we can’t get scored on right away.’ It’s a clean slate. It’s a clean game. We were so good with our starts to the game at the beginning of the season, so we know what we need to do. The opportunity is there. We’ve just got to go out and perform,” shared Beaulieu, who has one goal and five points in 19 games so far this season. “We’re not worried about having bad starts all the time. We’re professionals. We know how to prepare for games. Bounces are going to happen. If it keeps happening, we’ll have to put more emphasis into it. For now, though, we’re not panicking about it.”

- Mike Condon will be between the pipes for the Canadiens. It will be his ninth straight start.

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

Probable lineup vs. Arizona:

Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Eller – Galchenyuk – Mitchell
Weise – Desharnais – Fleischmann
Byron – Flynn – Smith-Pelly

Markov – Subban
Gilbert – Pateryn
Beaulieu – Petry

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