- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sunday morning ahead of Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Lightning. Based on the lines featured at practice, the Habs should field the same lineup that secured a 4-1 victory in Game 2 on Friday night.
- Coaches and players spent about 15 minutes prior to the start of practice working on special teams play.
- Travis Moen skated alongside his teammates again on Sunday morning. He was featured on a line with Ryan White and George Parros. Following practice, Moen worked with strength and conditioning coach, Pierre Allard, on absorbing physical contact along the boards. During his post-practice press conference, head coach Michel Therrien indicated that the Stewart Valley, SK native is inching closer and closer to returning to active duty after sustaining a concussion.
- After spending the better part of last week in Florida, the Canadiens make their much-anticipated return to the Bell Centre on Sunday night. It will undoubtedly be the perfect opportunity for fans to cheer on their favorite players, and, more importantly, play an active role in trying to pace the bleu-blanc-rouge to a Game 3 win.
“It’s always been an incredible place to play. The fans are behind us. You have to be careful not to try to do too much, though. We have to play a simple and structured game, just like we did on the road,” explained David Desharnais, who admits that despite playing 129 games at the Bell Centre over the course of his career, he still feels some jitters when taking to the ice at home. “It’s the perfect time. The butterflies are there, you feel some nerves when you step out there, but that means you really appreciate the moment for what it is.”
For those players who’ve only tasted the Bell Centre atmosphere during the regular season, however, Sunday night’s tilt marks the start of a new chapter in their hockey careers, one that includes seeing first-hand what playoff fever in Montreal is all about.
“The regular season is already pretty exciting. I can’t imagine what it will be like tonight,” confided Mike Weaver, who should be paired with veteran Francis Bouillon once again come puck drop.
- After besting the Lightning in the first two games of the series in the Sunshine State, the Canadiens find themselves in familiar postseason territory entering Game 3, but they’re looking for a far different outcome this time around. Back in 2011, the Habs went into Boston and built a 2-0 series lead in round one, only to drop four of the next five games en route to being eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champions in a decisive tilt in Massachusetts.
While defenseman Josh Gorges didn’t take part in the series after undergoing season-ending knee surgery to repair a torn ACL in early 2011, the Canadiens’ assistant captain insists the outcome of that series is far behind them as they get set for Game 3.
“It’s a new year. It’s a new challenge. You learn from past experiences, and we’ll take what we can from those experiences. But, this is a whole new ballgame, a whole new challenge. I think the important thing for us is to focus on tonight only,” offered Gorges, who boasts 42 games of playoff experience in a Canadiens uniform. “What’s happened the previous two games doesn’t matter. We know this is an important game for both teams and we’ve got to make sure that we’re focused and we’re energized, but we need to play smart hockey.”
- Despite scoring four goals in the series-opener last Wednesday night in Tampa, the Lightning had their fair share of difficulty solving Carey Price in Game 2. The Bolts, however, could be welcoming rookie sensation and top scorer, Ondrej Palat, back to the lineup for Game 3, which would add some extra offensive punch at a time when they need it most.
Palat’s possible return, however, has no bearing on Michel Therrien’s game plan for Sunday night.
“No, there’s no change. When we started the playoffs, he was in the lineup. He’s an important player for them. It will be up to us to limit his time and space and play physical hockey against him,” offered Therrien, who watched as Palat went down with an upper-body injury in Game 1. “They’re an extremely fast team. We have to continue focusing on our structure and taking away their speed. It’s very important to limit their reaction time and their space out there on the ice. It’s a priority for us.”
Projected lineup vs. Tampa Bay