- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday ahead of their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre. Jon Cooper’s contingent has dropped two straight games. The Lightning trail the CH by three points for top spot in the Atlantic Division.
- All players were present and accounted for at the morning skate, including Tom Gilbert, who is still recovering after suffering a fractured jaw. He was sporting a full shield.
- Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that aside from Carey Price getting the start in goal, there will be no additional lineup changes for the tilt against Tampa Bay. That means that Brian Flynn will remain in the lineup up front, while Devante Smith-Pelly will once again be a healthy scratch.
- Should the Canadiens come out on top on Monday night, the win will mark Therrien’s 200th victory behind the bench with Montreal.
- Monday night’s contest will mark the final regular season meeting between the Canadiens and the Lightning this year. Tampa Bay has won all four meetings against their Atlantic Division rivals so far this season.
“We have to be intense tonight. There are just big games left. Tonight’s game is no exception. We have to play intense hockey because we know that April 15 is coming fast, and that things will get even more intense than they are now,” explained the Canadiens bench boss. “I like the way we’re progressing. It’s not April 15 yet, but we want to play with conviction.”
If the Lightning have dominated the Canadiens this season in the goal scoring department, outscoring Michel Therrien & Co. by a 16-5 margin, there was definitely a noticeable difference between the 7-1 game on October 13, 2014 and the January 6 contest that ended 4-2. With six games to go in the regular season, beating the Lightning for the first time this year would be particularly significant.
“A win tonight would be good for our team, both physically and mentally. But, at the same time, one game doesn’t represent an entire season. That’s how we’re approaching the game,” stressed Therrien, who believes the games the Canadiens have left will serve as the ultimate form of preparation for postseason play.
- On Monday, the Canadiens announced that defenseman Andrei Markov would be the team’s candidate for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy this season. The award is given to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
“I just try to be who I am. I don’t get ahead of myself. I try to do my best every night. I want to help our team be better,” offered Markov, who earned the nomination from the Montreal branch of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. “It’s probably even more special because it comes from you guys. I’m happy about it.”
Now in his 14th season, the 36-year-old Russian-Canadian rearguard is enjoying a solid campaign. He leads the Canadiens in power play assists (18) and points (22), and ranks second on the team in assists (35) and time on ice per game (24:51). He also ranks third on the team with a plus-20 differential.
“I just try not to listen to [people that say negative things about me]. I focus on my game and focus on my preparation for these games. I try to enjoy the moment. I’m getting older. I know that. But, I’m still young. I feel good. I’m still having fun out there,” mentioned Markov, who boasts 44 points in 76 games during the 2014-15 campaign. “I want to finish the regular season on a good note. Tonight is an especially big game for us. We want to play good. We’re ready to go.”
Markov’s defense partner, P.K. Subban, is one of his many admirers inside the Canadiens’ locker room. Needless to say, the Norris Trophy winner was pleased to see Markov receive the Masterton nod.
“Marky is an excellent player and a good leader. He’s been doing a lot for this organization for a long time. I’m happy to see that he was recognized with this honour. He works very hard,” praised Subban, referencing his fellow assistant captain’s lengthy hockey resume. “He’s overcome a lot of tough times over the course of his career. He helped me a lot. He’s also helped many young players at the start of their NHL careers, too. He doesn’t talk a lot, but he’s a good example for the guys and he’s really deserving of this honour.”
Five Canadiens players have been presented with the Masterton in league history; Max Pacioretty (2011-12), Saku Koivu (2001-02), Serge Savard (1978-79), Henri Richard (1973-74) and Claude Provost (1967-68), who became the first recipient of the award.
- Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens. He will be looking for his 42nd win of the year, which would tie the team record for most victories in a single season set by Jacques Plante in 1955-56 and again in 1961-62. Price would also become the 16th goaltender in NHL history to hit the 42-win mark in a single campaign, and the first netminder to reach that plateau since Pekka Rinne and Marc-Andre Fleury accomplished the feat in 2011-12.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.
Projected lineup vs. Tampa Bay:
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Parenteau
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gallagher
De La Rose – Eller – Flynn
Prust – Mitchell – Weise
Malhotra – Smith-Pelly
Subban – Markov
Beaulieu – Pateryn
Emelin – Petry
Weaver – Gonchar - Gilbert
Words From The Room - March 30
Andrei Markov is the Montreal Canadiens candidate for the Bill Masterton Trophy in 2014-15
Game Preview: Lightning @ Canadiens