BROSSARD – The Canadiens held an optional practice at the Bell Sports Complex on Saturday, ahead of hosting the Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre in the first of a pair of back-to-back weekend games.
|Dale Weise addresses the media prior to Saturday`s game against the Flyers.
- Tomas Plekanec, Manny Malhotra, Alexei Emelin and P.K. Subban were absent from the morning skate, while Michael Bournival, currently sidelined with an injury, worked out alone with the team’s athletic therapists prior to the start of practice.
- Winners of a 4-3 shootout decision in Philadelphia the last time the two teams met – rallying back from a 3-0 deficit late in the third – the Canadiens nevertheless stressed the importance of quick start this time around.
“We’re a fast team, but so are they, and we didn’t like our start to the last game in Philly,” admitted Nathan Beaulieu, who could dress as a seventh defenseman against the Flyers. “It was 3-0 when we came back in the third, and we don’t want to have to do that again. We want to get out to a better start this time.”
While the Canadiens will play in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, the Flyers will wrap up a two-game set of their own in Montreal, providing the Habs with an additional opportunity to the usual home-ice advantage.
“It’s obviously huge and we know they played last night, so we’ve got to try to do what we can to jump on them early,” insisted Max Pacioretty, who scored a pair of goals against the Bruins on Thursday. “Obviously it’s a different game when we play in their building. A lot of teams struggle to dig themselves out of holes in our building, so we’ve got to jump on them early and hopefully take away some of their confidence, especially on the power play and on special teams right now.”
- Head coach Michel Therrien hasn’t revealed his roster against the Flyers yet, but Beaulieu is ready to pitch in in more ways than one should he get the call on Saturday.
“It’s not my bread and butter, but I’m not afaid to get physical,” added the burgeoning blue liner, who dropped the gloves with Matt Fraser during the second period on Thursday night to give his team a spark opposite the Bruins. “The game was on the line, so I picked my spot and luckily we gained momentum out of it. It’s not the main part of my game but hockey is a physical sport and you’ve got to be involved.”
Having also played as a forward against Boston, Beaulieu isn’t shy to chip in on offense, either.
“It’s something I hadn’t done before, but being in the course of the game, I was able to get into it. I was able to learn the system up front a little bit before the game, so getting a couple shifts out there was different, but it was also fun. When they threw me back there again, I knew what I was doing a little better, so it was a bit easier for me, but I’ll play any position they want me to.”
- With one of the highest scoring lines in the NHL in the building on Saturday, shutting down Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds could be a key to the game for the Canadiens. Voracek has registered seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points so far this season, while linemates Giroux and Simmonds have racked up 20 and 12 points, respectively.
“Simmonds is one of the best guys around the net in the league, Voracek has been hot recently, and Giroux is a superstar,” admitted Beaulieu. “That line is special and we’ll have to shut them down, but they’ve got a lot of depth, so it’s going to be a team effort.”
Fortunately, the Habs should be able to count on netminder Carey Price to handle one half of the workload.
“They’re going to get their chances no matter what so the best you can do is try to get rid of the second chances, since those are the ones that normally hurt you.” noted Dale Weise, who was the team’s first star on Thursday with a goal and an assist against the Bruins. “Price is going to stop the first one, so we’ve got to do a good job of clearing pucks and bodies for the second chances.
From the room
Game Preview: Flyers @ Canadiens
Owning the night
The Numbers Game - November 13, 2014