- After a day off on Wednesday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning ahead of their tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre.
- All players were present and accounted for at the morning skate, except for Torrey Mitchell (upper-body injury) and Jeff Petry, who didn’t hit the ice after coming down with the flu. Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Petry is doubtful for Thursday night’s game, and that if the American rearguard is unable to play, Nathan Beaulieu will take his spot in the lineup. Beaulieu skated alongside Tom Gilbert during the on-ice session.
- The Canadiens’ bench boss made a minor tweak to his forward lines, featuring Brendan Gallagher back on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty, while Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau skated with David Desharnais and Alex Galchenyuk.
“I want there to be as much balance as possible when it comes to our lines. It’s crucial to spread the offense around,” offered Therrien, whose squad will be looking to complete the season sweep of the Hurricanes on Thursday night, outscoring Carolina by a 7-2 margin in their two previous meetings combined back in December. “We want and we need contributions from everybody to have success, even if it’s guys on the third and fourth lines or our defensemen.”
- Fresh off their win in Sunrise, the Canadiens are well aware that being outshot 21-4 in the third period – like they were in South Florida – isn’t necessarily a recipe for success. Michel Therrien’s troops appeared somewhat fatigued in the final frame at the BB&T Center, and they understand the need to avoid a similar letdown this time around.
“Sometimes, it’s just a matter of playing smarter. You can work hard, but you also have to work smart, making sure you’re putting the puck in good positions and retrieving it so you’re not always on defense and you’re not always chasing the game,” explained P.K. Subban, who is averaging a team-leading 26:11 of ice time per game. “I think we need to remember that we need to make smart decisions with the puck. We don’t want to turn the puck over. That doesn’t mean we want to take anything away from a player’s creativity. We want to make plays at the right time. If you don’t have the time or space to make a play, you want to chip the puck where you can get it back. I think we have to pay attention to those types of details to have success at this point in the season.”
Gallagher believes keeping the energy level up in the final frame is also a matter of playing smart with and without the puck, too.
“You just have to understand that we’re at our best when we’re rolling four lines and six defensemen. Everyone keeps their shifts short and line after line we’re coming at teams and wearing them down and making sure that as the games go on they’re getting tired,” offered Gallagher, who is one goal shy of reaching the 20-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career. “You try to avoid tough-minute shifts where you get caught out there too long and spend some time in your own end. You’ve just got to be smart and efficient with your ice time. If you do that, by the third period you should be fine.”
- Thirty-four points separate the Canadiens and the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference standings. That doesn’t mean anything to the CH, who aren’t about to take any opponent lightly this time of year.
“Regardless of what team we’ve played this year, we’ve just kept doing the same thing. We try to play the same way. We’re at our best when we’re playing a very specific style of hockey. It’s chipping pucks in and forechecking, using our speed and trying to work teams down that way. That’s how we create our offense. If we can stick to that game plan, I think we’ll be fine,” explained Gallagher, who has one goal and five points in five career regular season games against the Hurricanes. “They’ve got some really good players on that side, too, some world-class players. They’ve got guys who can hurt you. You’ve got to be aware of them. Whatever has happened with that team this year has happened. That’s not for us to worry about. We know that they’re still a very dangerous team.”
- Carey Price will make his 58th start of the season for the Canadiens. He boasts a 10-5-2 record, a 2.35 goals against average and a .928 save percentage in 17 career regular season appearances against Carolina. Anton Khudobin will be between the pipes for the Hurricanes.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
Projected lineup vs. Carolina:
Pacioretty - Plekanec - Gallagher
Galchenyuk - Desharnais - Parenteau
De La Rose - Eller - Smith-Pelly
Prust - Malhotra - Weise
Markov - Subban
Beaulieu - Gilbert
Emelin - Pateryn
Words From The Room - March 19
This kid's got it all