- After enjoying a day off on Friday, the Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday morning in preparation for their final game of the year against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre.
- Prior to the start of the morning skate, defenseman Mark Barberio skated with athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine as he continues to rehab from a concussion he suffered on March 16 against the Buffalo Sabres.
- Brian Flynn will make his return to the Canadiens’ lineup after being sidelined for the last two months with a lower-body injury. It will mark Flynn’s first outing since February 9, when, interestingly enough, the Canadiens downed the Lightning 4-2 in Montreal. On Saturday morning, the Lynnfield, MA native skated on a line with Paul Byron and Torrey Mitchell.
“I’m happy that I can get one game in,” said Flynn, who was one of many Canadiens players this year to spend an extended period of time watching from the sidelines due to injury. “I’ve obviously never seen anything like this before. There are a lot of similar injuries, lower-body injuries that there isn’t much you can do with. There’s only so much you can do with the training staff and all the machines they can hook you up to. It’s just time [that’s needed] to heal things.”
- Even if Saturday night’s contest is essentially meaningless for the Canadiens standings-wise, the Bell Centre faithful can still expect the home team to come out strong in an effort to close out the year on a high note. If the Canadiens do manage to come out on top in their final game of the year, they will have swept the season-series against Jon Cooper’s contingent with four victories in four opportunities.
“It’s important to finish strong, even if we’ve been getting some tough results since the start of December and we’ve been dealing with a ton of injuries. We have to make sure to play a good game and to finish on a positive note under the circumstances,” explained head coach Michel Therrien. “The guys have been playing with a lot of intensity lately. It has to continue.”
- Minutes before practice began, the Canadiens announced that Alex Galchenyuk had won the Molson Cup for the 2015-16 campaign, which is awarded to the top player on the team, as determined by three-star selections all year long. Galchenyuk was named first star eight times this season, and the Canadiens’ bench boss believes it’s a sure sign that No. 27 is making incredible strides forward.
“With respect to Alex, we’re really happy with his progress. Since joining us when he was 18, he’s improved in different aspects of his play. He’s a lot more confident and responsible. There’s still work to be done, but we’re happy with his progress,” explained Therrien, whose late-season decision to put Galchenyuk on a line with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher has paid serious dividends for the trio. “He’s come a long way since the beginning of the season. He’s really reached a whole new level. The challenge with working with a player like Alex is to make sure we see progress in his learning curve.”
- All of Paul Byron’s hard work this season was formally recognized on Saturday morning when the Canadiens announced that he’d claimed the Jacques Beauchamp-Molson Trophy as the team’s “unsung hero” as voted on by members of the media. Byron set career-highs with 11 goals and 61 games played after being claimed off waivers from the Calgary Flames back in early October.
“I never expected for this year to play out the way it did. It was a real rollercoaster ride. I’m really happy that Montreal gave me a chance to play here,” said Byron, who bested goaltender Mike Condon by just four points to secure the honor which last season went to Dale Weise. “It’s just in my character to never give up and to always give everything I’ve got when I’m on the ice. I’m really proud to have had a year like this. It’s a real honor for me to win this trophy.”
- Mike Condon will get the start in goal against Tampa. In his two previous outings against the Lightning this season, the 25-year-old netminder has given up just three goals while posting a 1.44 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage along the way. Condon registered his first career NHL shutout against the Lightning less than two weeks ago.
- 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 the morning skate:
Words From The Room - April 9
Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Lightning
Paul Byron voted the 2015-16 Jacques Beauchamp-Molson Trophy recipient
Alex Galchenyuk named the Canadiens' 2015-16 Molson Cup Player of the Year