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Game Day - Flyers - Feb. 2

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens hit the ice at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday morning, ahead of tonight’s game against the Flyers.

- Mike Condon will get the nod between the pipes for the Canadiens. The rookie netminder has yet to face the Flyers in his career, as Ben Scrivens started the Habs previous matchup against Philadelphia earlier this year. Condon heads into Tuesday night’s contest with a 13-13-4 record complimented by a goals against average of 2.45 and a save percentage of .904

- In addition, coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Tom Gilbert will make his return to the lineup since suffering a lower-body injury on December 22 against the Minnesota Wild.

“Since the playoffs start soon, every single game from now on is extremely important. We just have to take it game by game. I just have to try and contribute as much as I can. Be a positive factor for this team moving forward and help make a good push before the playoffs,” proposed Gilbert, who lined-up alongside Mark Barberio at morning skate, and could potentially be paired together on Tuesday night. “It’s nice to be back, it’s tough watching. It’s never fun when you’re hurt, especially when the team isn’t doing well. If I’m playing tonight, it’s because I am at 100%. Just to get away from the rink and get a bit of rest and work hard on making a comeback was good for my confidence.”

- Lucas Lessio, recently called up to the Habs for the first time on January 31, will suit up for his first career game in a Canadiens uniform. At morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center, Lessio rotated on a line with Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn while sporting his new number '53'.

“I’m excited for sure. Pulling on the Canadiens jersey for the first time is going to be very special. Given the history and the number of Stanley Cups the team has, it’s going to be a pretty cool feeling,” acknowledged Lessio, who has 29 games of NHL experience with the Arizona Coyotes to his credit. “Coach said to keep it simple and just play my game. It’s not my first time in the league, so it is another opportunity for me and I am just looking to put my best foot forward and help the team win tonight. My mentality tonight is to be a reliable two-way forward and use my speed to create some offensive chances. I may have some people come up from Toronto but it’s pretty short notice. But my friends and family will be watching on TV tonight.”

- Coach Therrien added that he expects Lessio to help energize the team by sticking to the style of play that earned him his first call up to the Canadiens.

"I am sure he will be nervous. It will be his first game with his new team, and that’s normal. In his case, he just has to keep it simple. This is a guy who can bring energy to our team through his strong work ethic, his quick speed, and by being strong on the fore-check.”

- Defenseman Alexei Emelin, who missed Monday afternoon’s practice due to a flight cancellation, was back at practice on Tuesday morning where he patrolled the blue-line alongside Greg Pateryn. Michel Therrien however confirmed that the 29-year-old defenseman will not suit up against the Flyers as the physical blue-liner requires a bit more ice time to be game-ready after the break.

“It’s a bit of wishful thinking to have someone play a game after only touching the ice for morning skate after a six-day break. In Alexei’s case, he is a big body that needs time to warm up,” explained Michel Therrien, who will use the opportunity to reinsert Gilbert back into the lineup. “The game on December 26 was difficult for him because it was after a three-day break during the holidays. It’s unfortunate but these events are beyond our control.”

- Since the onset of December, Michel Therrien’s troops have scored a grand total of 48 goals, resulting in an average of 1.92 goals per game, which is in sharp contrast to the 3.52 average goals per game prior to December.

"Since the beginning of December, our biggest problem has been scoring goals. Winning games is the ultimate goal, but there were many games where we weren’t able to convert on our scoring opportunities. That's what matters. Both sides of the puck can be improved, but there is no doubt we need to find a way to score more goals,” explained coach Therrien, who formed the trio of Lars Eller, Tomas Fleischmann and Devante Smith-Pelly in an attempt to reinvigorate the Canadiens offense. “We also need to focus on winning the special teams battle, but to me it is vital that we play well in five-on-five situations. This is where the majority of the game will be played and we have to be at our best.

Lines from Practice
Pacioretty - Desharnais - Weise
Lessio - Mitchell - Flynn

Pateryn - Emelin

Quotes from the room: Feb 2.
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