- The Canadiens skated at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Saturday morning in preparation for their tilt against the Jets. It marks the final game on the team’s four-game road trip that previously made stops in San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles.
- Mike Condon will be in goal against the Jets. It will mark his 40th start of the year and his second career outing versus Winnipeg. Earlier this year, Condon bested the Jets by stopping 18 of 19 shots against in a 5-1 victory at the Bell Centre.
- At the morning skate, Alex Galchenyuk centered a line with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher on the wing. It’s a move head coach Michel Therrien felt compelled to make given Galchenyuk’s success as of late. The Canadiens’ No. 27 has five goals in his last five games – including a pair of multi-goal efforts against the Capitals (Feb. 24) and Ducks (Mar. 2), respectively.
“Alex has made a lot of progress. He’s been productive. We see that he’s playing with a lot of confidence on the wing. Now, we’re putting him in a different position and we’re going to see if he can keep playing with that same confidence and be just as productive in his new role at center,” explained Therrien, who is eager to see how the 22-year-old fares in his return to the pivot position on Saturday night. “The most important thing is that he continues playing the same way with that same confidence, while keeping his productivity going.”
For his part, Galchenyuk believes lighting the lamp and putting up numbers isn’t necessarily a by-product of confidence, but continuing to push himself as hard as possible to be a threat out there every single night.
“I think in terms of confidence, that’s an overrated word for me, to be honest. You play two good games and you don’t play one good game, and it doesn’t matter how you played those two before,” admitted Galchenyuk, who has 19 goals and 39 points in 65 games for the Canadiens so far this season. “You’ve always got to have that work ethic level, be emotionally excited, be focused and ready to play. It’s not that big of a word that I look for.”
Pacioretty, meanwhile, isn’t necessarily surprised about the timing of the move at all.
“Right now, it’s about trying to do anything to get things going. Obviously, Chucky’s had a lot of success as of late, so when he’s feeling good about his game, it’s a good time to put him in a role where maybe he can strive even more,” said Pacioretty. “We’ll see what he has now.”
- Like the Canadiens, Paul Maurice’s squad has struggled mightily this year. Losers of three straight, the Jets currently find themselves in last place in the NHL’s Central Division with just 57 points and a 2-6-2 record in their last 10 games. That being said, the Canadiens’ captain still expects Winnipeg to come out particularly hard on Saturday night.
“I think that group over there knows they have to outwork teams to win games and that’s the way we play when we have success. We have to try and match their intensity,” said Pacioretty, who leads the Canadiens with 23 goals during the 2015-16 campaign. “You’re going to see a hard-working game tonight between two teams who know their position in the standings.”
Defenseman P.K. Subban shared similar thoughts following Saturday’s morning skate.
“We just have to continue to find ways to put shots on the board, create scoring chances and keep the puck out of our net. It’s pretty simple,” explained Subban. “At the tail end of a long road trip like this, there’s no reason why we can’t just empty the tank tonight.”
- Based on the lines featured at the morning skate, Sven Andrighetto should be back in the lineup on Saturday night, while Mike Brown and Lucas Lessio will likely both be healthy scratches. With respect to the back end, Victor Bartley could be the odd man out. In his post-practice press conference, Therrien indicated that he hadn’t yet made any final lineup decisions for the game against Winnipeg.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Pacioretty – Galchenyuk – Gallagher
Eller – Plekanec – Andrighetto
De La Rose – Danault – Mitchell
Matteau – McCarron – Byron
Lessio – Brown
Subban – Markov
Pateryn – Emelin
Barberio – Ellis
Words From The Room - March 5
Game Preview: Canadiens @ Jets
Flexing their muscle