- The Canadiens held an optional morning skate in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of their game against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night. Fifteen skaters and both goalies practiced; Tomas Plekanec, Francis Bouillon, David Desharnais, Ryan White and Travis Moen did not take part.
- After a strong start to his season with the Bulldogs, Greg Pateryn was called up from Hamilton on Wednesday night and joined the Canadiens on the ice for practice on Thursday morning. While he’s not expected to be in the lineup against the Ducks, the 23-year-old blue-liner is looking forward to making the most of his latest stint in Montreal.
“I got a lot of playing time down there. I got some power play and penalty kill time and got some good minutes in and it paid off,” explained Pateryn, who has four points in five games to co-lead the Bulldogs in points. “I think getting the opportunities on the power play helps, but it’s just the little things like getting shots through. When you have good enough net front presence, good things are bound to happen. Points are kind of just a bonus. I pride myself on my D zone coverage and my first pass out of the zone. I think that’s something I need to master to make a profession here in the NHL. I’ll just take it one day at a time here. When I get my chance in the lineup, I’m going to just play my game.”
- Also back in the mix on Thursday morning, George Parros skated with the team for the first time since suffering a concussion during the home opener on Oct. 1. Inching closer to making his return to action, the symptom-free forward isn’t planning on adapting his rugged brand of hockey when he does finally slip back into his usual spot.
“Given my status and role, I just want to make sure everything is clear to play,” shared Parros, who had been skating with fellow injured Habs Douglas Murray and Alexei Emelin for the past few days. “I’m not trying to force this back or rush back to the ice by any means. I’m trying to make sure I do things the right way and take care of the head first.”
After being taken off the ice in a stretcher following a nasty, chin-first fall to the ice during a fight with Leafs forward Colton Orr, Parros listened to the league-wide debate about the future of fighting in the game. While he brings more to the lineup than a mean right hook, the 33-year-old appreciates the finer points of how a well-timed bout can change the momentum of a match.
“I’m not happy that they would use a fight of mine to say there’s no more room for fighting in the league. Obviously I’m going to be a proponent of fighting; I think there’s a place for it,” stressed the Princeton Economics grad. “My mindset is fine; we play a tough game out here and honestly, something like that can happen at any point, whether it’s a fight or not. The ice is a hard surface, the boards are a hard surface and it’s been a freaky year where a lot of guys have been taken off on stretchers unfortunately since the beginning of the season. This league is trying to cut back on those incidents and the players are, too. We all want that.
“If you can keep pace with the game and play and be an asset to your team and not a detriment and still fight, you’re one of the greatest assets on the team,” he added. “I think a lot of teams like to have a guy who can fight but also play and keep pace with the game.”
- With former Habs captain Saku Koivu about to return to the Bell Centre for just the second time since leaving as a free agent in 2009, emotions are likely running high in the visitors dressing room ahead of Thursday’s game. Having stood on the Canadiens bench as the Bell Centre faithful gave Koivu an emotional welcome back from cancer in April 2002, Francis Bouillon still remembers the chills he had watching his captain make his comeback 11 years ago.
“We experienced a lot of emotions when Saku came back. The Bell Centre was incredible that night. That was the most emotional I’ve ever felt during my time with the Canadiens. Saku was always appreciated here, both by the fans and by the players as a person and as a teammate. He’s a guy who worked hard to get where he is and he was a great captain.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Bell Centre.