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Game Day - Game 1 vs. Senators, April 15

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday morning ahead of contesting Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre.

- All players were present and accounted for at the optional skate, expect for P.K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec. The Czech pivot, however, took to the ice prior to the formal on-ice session to break in a new pair of skates.

- For a third consecutive day, Max Pacioretty skated alongside his teammates. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed, however, that Pacioretty would not suit up on Wednesday night as he continues to recover from an upper-body injury. Pacioretty remained on the ice once the optional skate came to an end, as did Manny Malhotra, and defensemen Sergei Gonchar, Mike Weaver and Greg Pateryn.

“There’s a chance we’ll see Max out there on Friday. We’ll have him back in the lineup when he’s 100 percent healthy. There was a chance he’d play tonight, but it’s just not the case,” offered Therrien, referencing the health status of the Canadiens’ No. 67. “Now, it could be Friday or it might be Sunday. When we get the green light from the medical staff, we’ll be very happy to have him back in the lineup.”

- Despite his young age, Brendan Gallagher is already a veteran when it comes to playoff hockey. He’s taken part in 22 playoff games since joining the NHL ranks in 2012-13. Gallagher participated in the opening-round series against the Senators two years ago when Ottawa sent the Canadiens packing in five games. He even scored a goal in each of the first two games of the series. Having played three other playoff series since then, the 22-year-old knows that each matchup really does take on a life of its own.

“It’s tough to say what you have to do to win the series. Every series develops its own identity. It will be important for us to take things one game at a time. It starts tonight,” mentioned Gallagher. “We have to get off to a good start. We know how well they’ve been playing lately. It will be important for us to establish ourselves in Game 1 and use the crowd to our advantage. ”

And, Gallagher knows full well that in order to make his presence felt against Dave Cameron’s contingent, he’ll have to do what he does best – make the opposing goaltender’s life miserable.

“You have to give him credit. He’s been playing excellent hockey lately. What makes him good is his compete level,” offered Gallagher, who went up against Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond twice during the regular season. “But, there’s always a way to beat any goaltender. You can’t stop the puck if you can’t see it. We have to create traffic in front of him. We’ve played him a couple of times and we know what we have to do. We’ll have to give him a tough time tonight.”

- At just 19 years of age, Jacob De La Rose will make his NHL playoff debut with the Canadiens on Wednesday night. Therrien spent some quality time with a few of his troops prior to the morning skate to get a better sense of how they were feeling leading up to Game 1. De La Rose was among those players the Canadiens’ bench boss visited with ahead of the series-opener.

“This morning, I sat down with Jacob De La Rose. He’s just 19 years old. This is his first experience in the playoffs. I wanted to see how he was feeling. He’s very excited. He’s also a little bit nervous. That goes without saying. But, he’s excited,” mentioned Therrien, who will be behind the bench for his 60th career playoff game on Wednesday night. “His parents will be here. It will be emotional for him. When it comes to advice, I told him to just be himself. He’s played big games in the past. It won’t be any different tonight. He has to embrace this challenge. I’ll give him all the support I can because I like the way he plays. I like his speed. Things will be a little bit faster tonight, but speed is an asset in his case. He’ll be ready.”

- While the Canadiens will have a few players making their postseason debuts in 2014-15, local boy Torrey Mitchell is set to embark on the seventh playoff run of his career. The Greenfield Park native brings 60 games of NHL playoff experience to the lineup with the San Jose Sharks and the Minnesota Wild. This time around, however, Mitchell will battle for the Stanley Cup donning the colors of his hometown team. That will surely make this playoff experience particularly special.

“I’m very excited. There’s a lot of emotion involved. That’s for sure,” offered Mitchell, who has registered three goals and 12 points in postseason play. “I’ve got some playoff experience already, but tonight for Game 1 I know I’ll be like a little kid out there. I’m just so excited. I hope my experience can help.”

Mitchell, who will have plenty of family and friends in attendance on Wednesday night, says past playoff experience has taught him that feeling somewhat nervous this time of year isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If anything, it’s a good indicator that you’re simply living in the moment.

“I think butterflies are a good thing. Everyone is excited to get started. Both teams are going to have butterflies. Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup,” explained Mitchell, who played 14 regular season games with the Canadiens after being acquired at the trade deadline from Buffalo in early March. “We just have to control our emotions and play with discipline.”

- The 2015 Fan Jam gets underway at 4 p.m. EST in an open-air lot on the corner of Peel and St. Jacques in downtown Montreal. The location will be the home of the Fan Jam for the duration of the team’s postseason run.

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on TVA and CBC.

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