- The Canadiens skated at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday morning ahead of their tilt against the Lightning. The game marks the second of four meetings between the two teams during the 2013-14 campaign. The Lightning bested the Canadiens 2-1 in a shootout back on Nov. 12 at the Bell Centre.
- Michael Bournival and Douglas Murray will both be healthy scratches, while Josh Gorges returns to the lineup after being sidelined for the Canadiens’ last game back on Dec. 21 with a lower-body injury. Ryan White will also make his return to the lineup on Saturday night alongside Travis Moen and Brandon Prust.
Even though head coach Michel Therrien has elected not to play Bournival against the Lightning, the Habs bench boss is adamant that the move is far from a step back for the NHL rookie.
“A guy like Bournival really surprised us at training camp and now he’s gaining experience. This is just how rookie seasons tend to go. It’s important not to forget that at training camp, every game he played was like a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final,” mentioned Therrien. “The speed of the league has gone up and that’s normal. If we put him in periodically, it’s not bad for his development either.”
- For his part, veteran forward Daniel Briere will take to the Tampa Bay Times Forum ice alongside Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk.
The 36-year-old, who has five goals and 10 points on the year, believes the newly formed trio has what it takes to give Jon Cooper’s troops all they can handle.
“It’s a line that can potentially do a lot of damage. I’m going to try to make the most of it. I think it worked well last game with Bourque and Eller. If it can continue along the same lines as that with Galchenyuk, it should be fun,” offered Briere, who will play his 28th game of the season on Saturday night.
“The three of us are kind of in similar situations. If my presence can help, it’s better for us,” added the Gatineau native. “The fact is that we’re all looking for more bounces to go our way. A break like the one we had and some positive energy can go a long way. Sometimes, it just takes one to get going and it can be something special.”
- Given the Lightning’s recent success, the Canadiens know full well that taking a division rival like Tampa Bay for granted would be a big mistake.
“It’s an important game for us. I don’t think there’ll be too many excuses in terms of how the guys are feeling. We’ve had more than enough time to get that out. They’re in the same situation as well with a couple of days off,” underlined defenseman P.K. Subban, who will line up alongside Josh Gorges on Saturday night. “We’ve got to make sure that we start off on the right foot and get back to the things that have made our team successful for the first portion of the season. They’re a great team. You can’t underestimate them. They play well as a team. They have a strong system, and they stick to it. We’ve got to play a disciplined game.”
- Carey Price will make his 31st start of the season for the Canadiens on Saturday night. Ben Bishop will likely get the call in goal for the Lightning.
- With plenty of snowbirds in town, the Lightning are expecting a sell-out crowd to take in the game on Saturday night.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.
Lines and D pairings at practice:
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – Eller – Briere
Bourque – Plekanec – Gionta
Moen – White – Prust
Bournival – Parros
Gorges – Subban
Markov – Emelin
Murray – Bouillon
Game preview: MTL @ TBL
Words From The Room - Dec. 28
Road Blog - Tampa Bay