BROSSARD – The Canadiens held a practice at the Bell Sports Complex on Saturday morning ahead of the evening match-up against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ryan White, who was out with the flu, skated with his teammates but is not expected to play tonight.
Michael Bournival practiced with the team for a second day in a row, indicating that he is making good progress in his return from a concussion. Once again, he wore a blue “non-contact” jersey.
- Drawing in for White in a second consecutive game will be George Parros, who is looking forward to renewing an age-old rivalry with Toronto after a long Olympic break.
“You never know what’s going to happen after a break like that, but we’ve handled it pretty well,” offered Parros, who saw his team get a point in an overtime loss against Detroit before suiting up against the Penguins and helping the team to a shootout win. “They’re fun games to play in. It’s always interesting when there’s something extra on the line, with the playoff implications of [tonight’s game].”
- Lars Eller also weighed in with his thoughts about the Habs-Leafs rivalry.
“It doesn’t matter what the standings positions are, I think the intensity has always been there. You can always feel the electricity in the building when a team like Toronto is in town. Everybody is pumped up,” said Eller. “It’s a big divisional match-up, we’re very close in the standings and who knows, we might even play against Toronto in the playoffs at some point.”
- Newcomer Dale Weise, acquired just before the Olympic break, is very familiar with the extent of the antagonism between the two Original Six franchises. In fact, as a Vancouver Canuck, catching the end of a Habs-Leafs Saturday night tilt was often part of his pre-game routine.
“Playing out West, we caught a lot of those games before going on the ice. We had the TV on while get dressed up. I’m very familiar with those Saturday night games,” acknowledged the rugged right-winger. “Both teams are comfortable playing a physical style. We’re okay playing it too. I think it’s a lot of team’s game plan when they face Montreal, but our team is very physical as well. We always play hard. We have a couple big bodies, so we can play physical too.”
An occasional healthy scratch in Vancouver, Weise is happy to be able to contribute to his new team on a nightly basis, having played in five of five scheduled games since being traded to Montreal.
“I don’t know if anybody’s counting, but we got nine out of 10 points since I got here,” joked the Winnipeg native.