- The Canadiens held a full game day skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday, ahead of hosting the New York Islanders at the Bell Centre.
- Called up from Hamilton on Friday, goaltender Joey MacDonald was on the ice at practice.
- Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau was absent from the morning skate. Benefiting from a treatment day, head coach Michel Therrien meanwhile confirmed that the 31-year-old forward will not suit up against the Isles.
- Carey Price was also absent from practice in Brossard. The 27-year-old netminder suffered a minor upper body injury in Columbus on Wednesday, and will be reevaluated on a day-to-day basis.
“We don’t know if he’ll be ready for our next game or the All-Star Game, but it’s nothing major, so there’s no need to worry. It just depends on how his treatment goes,” explained Therrien. “He felt good enough to be the backup after receiving treatment in Ottawa, but yesterday morning he felt a bit stiff, which is why as a preventative measure, he’s not playing tonight.”
- With Price out of the lineup, Dustin Tokarski will make his second straight start on Saturday. Ranked fourth in the NHL with an average of just 2.33 goals allowed per game, the Habs meanwhile, are confident regardless of who is in goal.
“We have confidence in him. We have confidence in both of our goalies. Obviously Carey is our number one guy, but Tokarski was there for us last year when it counted,” noted David Desharnais. “He did a great job then, and he continues to do a great job this year. It’s not something we need to be worried about.”
- With Parenteau out of the lineup, Therrien made a number of personnel changes at practice on Saturday, moving Dale Weise to the top line with Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty, while shifting Alex Galchenyuk back to the wing, flanking Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher.
“As a coach with a young player [like Alex], my job is to make sure he’s developing well. I had a good chat with him this morning and he told me that he feels most comfortable playing on the wing right now, so it’s a decision we made together,” explained the Habs’ bench boss. “Our job as coaches is to help keep our players comfortable and confident. It’s a process right now with Alex, and it doesn’t mean he’ll stay on the wing for the rest of the season.”
- One of the surprises of the 2014-15 NHL season, the Islanders arrive in Montreal ranked first overall in the Eastern Conference, setting up what should be an exciting game for fans at the Bell Centre.
“They’ve been playing great this season. They had a couple of tough years in the past, but you can see that they play responsibly now, especially on defense. They look like a team wanting to make the playoffs not only this year, but every year moving forward,” acknowledged defenseman P.K. Subban, whose longtime pal John Tavares leads New York with 42 points in 44 games this season. “They’ve got lots of guys who are able to put the puck in the back of the net, and we’ll have to be especially careful when a guy like Tavares is on the ice.”
- Saturday’s game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the Bell Centre, and will be broadcast on TVA Sports and Sportsnet.
Forward lines at practice:
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Weise
Galchenyuk – Desharnais – Gallagher
Sekac – Eller – Thomas
Bournival – Malhotra – Prust