TORONTO – The Canadiens skated at the Air Canada Centre ahead of Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. All players took part in the morning skate.
- Daniel Carr will be back in action on Saturday after being recalled from St. John’s on Thursday afternoon. One of the team’s most consistent goal scorers over the month of December with four in 12 games, the 24-year-old forward will skate on a line with Lars Eller and Tomas Fleischmann against the Leafs.
“He’s small, but he’s gritty. This is all part of the process for a young player. We lost Paul Byron who was playing really well before he was injured and he was playing probably some of the best hockey of his career up to that point,” said head coach Michel Therrien. “When a guy gets injured, it opens the door for someone else. In the case of Carr, he’s coming back up with a level of confidence he might not have had early on because he was new to the NHL. He knows what to expect now.”
- Despite having gone 4-16-1 since December 3, the Habs are heading into Saturday’s game feeling optimistic about their ability to turn things around in Toronto. Coming off a team meeting that included general manager Marc Bergevin, the Canadiens are ready to put the past behind them and look to the future, beginning with a rivalry tilt in the Ontario capital.
“We’ve come to terms with what’s happened and we’re ready to turn the page. We’re only looking ahead; we’re not looking at the past at all,” stressed captain Max Pacioretty. “Obviously we didn’t want any of that to happen, but our goal now it to focus on the present and not get caught up in what’s happened. Hopefully individuals can start gaining some confidence here as games go on in the future.
“It’s always emotional playing Toronto,” he added. “It’s a great rivalry. And playing in this building on a Saturday night, you know everyone is watching and all eyes are on this game. Guys tend to step up when the spotlight is on. It’s going to be a fun, exciting game.”
- The league’s highest scoring team at the beginning of the campaign, the Habs have had troubles finding the back of the net of late. About to face Leafs goalie James Reimer, who has allowed just three goals on 74 shots in the last two games, the team’s snipers know they’ll have their work cut out for them when it comes to lighting the lamp at the ACC. Luckily, they’ve had some practice scoring on elite netminders over the years.
“We’ve been struggling to score goals and we know they have a hot goaltender over there, but at the end of the day, we can only worry about our own game. We need to take away his eyes and get second and third chances,” prescribed Pacioretty, who leads the Habs with 19 goals in 2015-16. “We’ve seen it over the years when the only way to beat Carey is to take away his eyes – he can’t stop what he can’t see. We have to do that tonight and make sure we get dirty. That team plays with a lot of pride, so we have to make sure we match their intensity from the puck drop.”
- While he agrees that starting a scoring streak begins by going back to basics, P.K. Subban also knows the prep work for success has to come long before the team hits the ice for the 7:00 p.m. puck drop in Toronto.
“A big part of success in this league is how much confidence you have,” explained Subban. “I feel that the more confident you are, the more you start to see bounces go your way. We have to find ways to feel confident. Sometimes that’s just your preparation as a pro and that’s individual. That has nothing to do with the coach or your teammates; it’s you. We know how to do it and we just have to get back to doing those little things.”
-After leaving Tuesday’s game against the Bruins having played just 4:43 before being sidelined with a lower body injury, Nathan Beaulieu will be back in action on Saturday night alongside Mark Barberio.
-Mike Condon will get his 32nd start of the campaign on Saturday night, facing the Leafs for the first time in the regular season after shutting out Toronto 1-0 in a preseason win this September.
LINES AND DEFENSE PAIRINGS
Words from the roomGame Preview: Canadiens vs Maple LeafsA true believer