The Canadiens practiced at the Staples Center on Monday morning ahead of their game against the Kings. All players except Carey Price were on the ice, including Brandon Prust and Michael Bournival who were in no-contact jerseys. Bournival continues to follow standard concussion protocol and has not suffered any setbacks, Prust will practice with the team until he’s cleared to play and Price has yet to receive the green light to hit the ice from the team doctors.
“Carey is still day-to-day,” confirmed head coach Michel Therrien. “As soon as the medical staff feels he’s ready to start practicing, he’s going to go on the ice, but obviously he was not today. He’s just doing treatment now.”
Peter Budaj will get his fourth-straight start on Monday night, having already helped the team pick up five points out of a possible six since taking over starting duties with Price on the shelf. Budaj will look to build on his 6-2-1 career record against Los Angeles, currently owning an all-time 2.90 goals-against average and .894 save percentage against the Kings.
“Every time Buds is in he gives us a very good chance to win the hockey game,” stressed Brendan Gallagher. “He makes saves at timely moments – big saves that get guys excited and he gives us confidence so we play confident in front of him. As a team we’re confident in both our goalies regardless of who’s in the net. Buds has done what he’s always done and what we expect him to do; he shows up, he works as hard as he can in practice every day and when he gets a chance to play he plays as well as he can.”
The Canadiens’ hockey operations department is in California preparing for Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, but Marc Bergevin did not make the trip following the death of his mother-in-law. The Habs GM will spend the next few days with his family, while working the phones from Chicago. With the deadline less than 48 hours away, Therrien isn’t worried about the possibility of some of his troops not making the return trip to Montreal becoming a distraction between Monday morning and Wednesday afternoon.
“The trade deadline isn’t really a subject of discussion or a distraction with our group,” shared the Habs bench boss. “We’re also pretty far from Montreal out here in California so there’s a lot less talk about it surrounding us. Our preoccupation is preparing for games and that’s what we’re doing.”
Looking back on the last time the Habs and Kings faced off, a 6-0 loss to LA on home ice on Dec. 10 following 9-01 unbeaten streak, the Canadiens have absorbed the lessons they learned from that first meeting and aren’t planning on putting together an encore performance at the Staples Center. Currently the hottest team in the league boasting an NHL-best 7-1-2 record over the last 10 games, the Habs will look to continue that pace during the western road swing, beginning Monday night in Los Angeles.
“We do have to go back and look at that [game against the Kings]. There are a lot of things we didn’t do well and I don’t think anybody wants to repeat the effort we gave that night,” admitted Lars Eller, who will play on a line with Rene Bourque and Daniel Briere with Ryan White making his return to the lineup against the Kings. “We’ve come a long way and fixed that lately and shown a lot of character by coming back in third periods, bouncing back and finding ways to win games. We take it one game at a time and we have a lot of respect for LA, but really it’s all about us and what we’re going to do out there.”
Lines and D pairings at practice
Words from the roomGame preview: MTL @ LAK