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Game Day - Ducks - December 18

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens held an optional pregame skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard ahead of Thursday night's game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Bell Centre.

- In total, 14 players hit the ice, including Mike Weaver, Bryan Allen and Lars Eller. While Weaver and Allen are not yet ready to return to the lineup, Eller for his part will be a game-time decision. All three stayed out on the ice following the end of practice.

- The Habs will honor former captain Saku Koivu during a special pregame ceremony ahead of Thursday's game against the Ducks. Brendan Gallagher, who currently wears number 11 for the club is aware of its significance.

"When you wear the 11, you try to represent it as best as you can because that's what he always did. I remember when I was growing up watching him, he was a heart and soul guy who showed up every night and played for his teammates," offered Gallagher, who was just 16-years-old when Koivu left the Canadiens. "He was a very good person as well and he definitely represented the Canadiens organization as well as anyone before him. On a night when Saku Koivu is being honored, I'm going to try to represent the number 11 as best as I can."

Just like with the games dedicated to Guy Lapointe and Mr. Jean Béliveau, meanwhile, the 22-year-old forward expects emotions to be running high once again on Thursday.

"The ceremony should give us a little bit of a boost and we'll be energized, but they'll be the same way," admitted Gallagher. "A lot of guys over there played with him and they should be excited as well. It'll be a fun game to watch and a fun game to play in so hopefully we come out on top.

- Brandon Prust should join new linemates David Desharnais and P.A. Parenteau for a third straight game on Thursday. Since head coach Michel Therrien shuffled his lines, the trio have combined for seven points in two games, registering a pair of goals and five assists.

"They're playing really well right now. Davey was flying out there last game and I was just trying to keep up with him. Him and P.A. are making great plays and they're fun to play with so for me it's just about keeping my feet moving, getting in on the forecheck, and getting them the puck as much as I can," explained Prust, who reached the 400 games-played milestone on Friday against L.A. "It's fun to play and get lots of scoring chances while buzzing around the offensive zone but I've still got to stick to my strengths. That's making sure that I'm playing well defensively, eliminating my turnovers, getting pucks deep, and creating some energy and space for those guys."

- After passing a pair of tough tests against the Kings and the Canucks a week ago, the Canadiens now get set to face the NHL's top team, ranked first overall with 47 points in 33 games played so far this season.

"We're going to have to play really well. They're a team that knows how to win hockey games. They come at you with a lot of depth, and a lot of very good players up front," underlined Brendan Gallagher following practice. "We need to do what we do any time we play well. We have to focus on our transition game and getting on the forecheck. When we do those things, everything else just kind of comes from it and we're able to get off to a good start, which is something we're trying to do more often. We're going to see what we can do to get the crowd involved because we know there's going to be a lot of energy after the ceremony."

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