- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday, ahead of Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre.
- Five players were absent from practice, leaving Friday’s lines to be determined.
- Max Pacioretty, who has missed the team’s last three games with an upper body injury, is nearing closer to a return. The Habs’ leading goalscorer practiced without the tinted visor he had been using previously this week, opting instead for a clear one – a good sign according to head coach Michel Therrien, even if he would not confirm the 26-year-old winger’s return.
“I haven’t spoken with the medical staff yet,” acknowledged the Habs’ bench boss during his post-practice press conference. “But Max is feeling really good. It’s a positive sign. He skated well yesterday and today he’s feeling good, but I can’t confirm whether he’ll be back tonight or on Sunday.”
- Carey Price will be back in goal for Game 2 against the Senators. In his first outing of the 2015 postseason, the All-Star netminder stopped 30 of 33 shots to earn his 43rd career playoff win.
- Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, who was not at practice on Thursday, skated alone on Friday morning, testing his mobility before also taking part in the optional session. Therrien confirmed that the 32-year-old forward’s status will be re-evaluated day-to-day.
- Chris Neil will be back in the Senators lineup for the first time since February 14, when he suffered a fractured finger in a fight with Edmonton’s Luke Gazdic. In just 38 games this season, Neil has registered 78 penalty minutes, averaging more than two minors per game.
Neil’s return follows a physical Game 1 in which a combined 86 hits were dished out on the ice, although the Habs aren’t reading too far into the Sens’ change of personnel.
“Guys fit certain roles and if they feel that’s something the team needs then that’s the way it is. It’s still the same game when it comes down to it, and we’re not going to let lineup changes affect us,” underlined Nathan Beaulieu, who picked up an assist on Brian Flynn’s Game 1 winner. “There are going to be lineup changes with every team throughout the course of the playoffs. It’s just part of the game with injuries and other things that can happen. We’ll be fine.”
- The Canadiens proved to be ready for a physical affair on Wednesday, and insist they’re ready for more on Friday.
“I’m expecting another physical, hard game. Last game was pretty hard, lots of hitting, and I expect the same thing tonight,” predicted Devante Smith-Pelly, who together with Alexei Emelin led the Habs with six hits each during Game 1. Nevertheless, the six-foot, 220-pounder is also expecting a clean affair.
“I don’t think anyone in here is too worried. I know guys in here don’t want to put the team on the penalty kill, and I would assume guys in the other room don’t want to either,” added the 22-year-old forward who scored five goals with the Anaheim Ducks during the 2014 playoffs. “My job is pretty simple – go in and try to create some space for the guys I’m playing with. That’s my job, to finish my checks and wear down the opposing defense.”