TORONTO – It’s been over two weeks since the Canadiens clinched a berth in the 2015 postseason, but there’s still plenty on the line in Game 82 in Toronto.
- If the Habs win on Saturday, it will mark the first time the team has registered 50 or more victories since a 53-win campaign in 1988-89.
- Heading into Saturday’s game, the Habs are guaranteed to have home ice advantage for the opening round of the playoffs, but with at least one point in Toronto, they can also clinch first place in the Atlantic division. A Lightning loss in regulation or overtime would also give the Habs the division title, which would shore up home ice for Montreal for at least two rounds of playoff hockey. All 30 teams are in action on Saturday night, including four games with playoff implications for the Habs, but the only game the Canadiens are focusing on is the one taking place in Toronto.
“We expect Tampa to take care of their business and we have to do the same on our end. You can look at it both ways. It definitely is important. We know it’s tough for teams to come into the Bell Centre. it could be huge, but that said, I've been in the league for three years and I’ve been in four playoff series. The two where we had home ice, we lost, and the two where we didn’t, we won. We don’t worry too much about it. We want to be playing our best hockey. By this time of year, everything should be reactionary. It will be a good test for us tonight.”
- Carey Price will get the start against Toronto and will look to sweep the Leafs with a fourth win in as many games against the division rivals in 2014-15. Head coach Michel Therrien explained the reasoning behind calling on the All-Star netminder for a 66th time this season.
“We gave some guys a chance to rest in the second half of the back-to-back in Jersey. For a guy like Carey, this is only his third game in nine days, I believe,” explained Therrien. “He’s going to have four days to get prepared before we start the first game of the playoffs. We were able to keep the energy level of the players up because the schedule gave us that opportunity.”
- Devante Smith-Pelly will be suiting up in his hometown as a Hab for a first time since being traded to Montreal in February and the fifth time in his career on Saturday night. The Scarborough native has been playing his best hockey since arriving in Montreal over the last few games and is hoping to continue that trend in front of his parents and a slew of friends at the ACC.
“I played here earlier this year with the Ducks, but it will be a whole other level with the Canadiens. I’m really excited for tonight, especially now that they aren’t all cheering for the Leafs,” joked Smith-Pelly, who played 15:23 on Thursday against Detroit, his second-highest ice time since becoming a Hab. “This is the most fun time of the year. As much as we’re all excited for the playoffs to start, we also need to focus on tonight because this one will be important.”
- Max Pacioretty didn’t make the trip to Toronto, but the Habs sniper skated with trainers in Brossard on Saturday morning for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on April 5 in Florida.
“He’s responding well to treatment and that’s great news,” shared Therrien on his leading scorer, who had 37 goals and 30 assists in 80 games before seeing his regular season come to a close in the first period against the Panthers. “That doesn’t change what we said earlier, though; he’ll be re-evaluated by doctors early next week. When we have news, we’ll share it, but it’s too early to know.”
- About to suit up for his 82nd game of the season, David Desharnais is one of just five Habs players who have played every one of the teams games in 2014-15 to date – a feat the 27-year-old forward has yet to accomplish in his six years in the NHL.
“It’s something I haven’t done since I’ve been here and it’s a little goal you set for yourself at the start of the season,” admitted Desharnais, who played 81 games in 2011-12 and 79 in 2013-14. “It’s fun to be able to play all 82 this year. The game is fast and there are a lot of injuries, so to be able to play all 82 games shows you’re able to grind it out for the entire season.”
- There will be no lineup changes from Thursday's game against Detroit. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre, and will be broadcast on TVA Sports, CBC, 98.5 FM and TSN 690.
Words from the Room