- The Canadiens returned to the Bell Sports Complex Thursday morning to prepare for their matchup against the New York Islanders at the Bell Centre. Michel Therrien’s squad will look to rebound after suffering a 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators in their most recent contest Tuesday night.
- The Canadiens’ bench boss is not expected to make any lineup changes for the game against the Islanders. That means that forward Alexander Semin and defensemen Jarred Tinordi will likely once again be healthy scratches.
- With Carey Price sidelined due to injury, Mike Condon will make his fourth straight start between the pipes for the Canadiens. As Brendan Gallagher testified, Condon has been a source of composure for the Habs this season.
“He’s been huge for us. Just the composure he’s had stepping in, it is pretty special to watch right now. He’s making some big saves, and timely saves, saves at times in the game where we really need him to step up and he’s done that for us, explained Gallagher, who also recognized Condon’s determination to take full advantage of his time as the Habs’ starter with Carey Price on the shelf. “When guys go down, it is an old cliché in hockey, but it is really just an opportunity for guys to step up and I think he has really taken advantage of that. He’s played very well for us.”
Canadiens forward Paul Byron also chimed in, noting the similarities between the Canadiens’ technically sound goaltenders. “He kind of looks like Carey Price in there. If you take off the #9 and put in the #1 and you probably wouldn't even know the difference the last few games.”
- Expected to make his fifth appearance in a Habs’ uniform, Paul Byron spoke about the challenge that lies ahead against the Islanders.
“It’s going to be a test for us for sure. We know they have a good team. They play hard and they have lots of skill, so we are going to have to put our work boots on tonight and go to work,” offered Byron, who led the Canadiens with a team high 5 hits in Tuesday night’s overtime loss to the Senators.
- Having lost three of their previous four games, the Islanders will receive a much needed boost from the return of their captain John Tavares to the lineup. As Brendan Gallagher explains, the Canadiens will have to keep a close eye on the former first overall draft pick.
“He’s obviously one of the best players in the world, so we have to pay attention when he is on the ice and make it as tough as we can. You know he is going to make his plays but you have to make him work for everything. We can’t give him any easy shifts. But like I said he is one of the best players in the world so it is always a challenge, noted Gallagher, who is looking to add his name to the scoresheet against the Islanders after being held pointless in his last three games. “He’s their leader, and they will be excited to get him back. He is one of the best players in the world. Like I said earlier, we just have to play him hard. Make sure he has to work for everything. We just have to make it as difficult as possible.”
The hard-hitting Islanders - who currently lead the NHL with 36.5 hits a game - set a new NHL record registering 65 hits in their previous game against the Devils. Presently leading the charge is forward Matt Martin, who leads the NHL in hits with 65, which is eleven more than any other player in the league.
- Canadiens mobile defenseman Nathan Beaulieu noted that the Canadiens will have to rely on their speed to take the physical Islanders out their comfort zone.
“Speed is going to be the biggest thing. If a team is hitting too much, they might over hit and you just have to counter on offense. We’re a great skating team, so if we move our feet we should be fine. If they try to throw too many hits, there are going to be a lot odd man chances. That is basically our game, we will find a way to counter.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and CITYM
Probable lineup against the Islanders:
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Eller – Galchenyuk – Smith-Pelly
Fleischmann – Desharnais – Weise
Byron – Mitchell – Flynn
Emelin - Petry
Markov – Subban
Gilbert - Beaulieu
Words From The Room
Game preview: Canadiens vs. Islanders
Confidence is key