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Game Day - Maple Leafs - September 22

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

- The Canadiens skated at the Bell Sports Complex on Tuesday morning in preparation for their first preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre.

- Prior to the start of practice, Max Pacioretty (Knee), Noah Juulsen (Concussion) and Markus Eisenschmid (Abdomen) hit the ice to work out with strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard and athletic therapist Vincent Roof-Racine.

- P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov skated with the rest of Michel Therrien’s troops on Tuesday morning, but the pair will not be in the lineup against Toronto. Meanwhile, the Canadiens’ bench boss confirmed that Carey Price and Zachary Fucale will split the goaltending duties in the preseason opener.

- Defenseman Mark Barberio is eagerly anticipating Tuesday night’s matchup on home turf – and with good reason. Barberio, a Montreal native, signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Canadiens back on July 1st. Now, he’s battling for a spot on the blue line with his hometown team.

“It’s definitely special. I’m wearing the right colors now,” cracked Barberio, who’d spent the last two-plus seasons plying his trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the squad that drafted him 152nd overall back in 2008. “I definitely have to jump on opportunities like these. Everyone is here to make the team, but for me it’s extra special with this being the team I grew up watching. It doesn’t change anything for me, though. I have to play my game, make simple plays, and try to win the game [against Toronto].”

It will mark the sixth time that Barberio laces up his skates at the Bell Centre, and he’ll likely have plenty of support in the stands to mark the occasion.

“My entire family is happy [about me playing for the Canadiens]. They were at the Bell Centre on Sunday for the Red vs. White game. They enjoyed it, but I think they’ll find this to be even more exciting,” shared Barberio, who has amassed six goals, 17 points and 44 penalty minutes in 103 career NHL games. “It’s always special to play at the Bell Centre, even if you’re on the opposing team, but it’s even more special when you’re wearing the Canadiens colors.”

- Like Barberio, Zack Kassian is looking forward to suiting up against the Maple Leafs and showcasing the physical brand of hockey he’s come to be known for since making his NHL debut with the Buffalo Sabres in 2011-12.

“I’m excited. It’s been a long summer, and it’ll be nice to finally get out there and compete against some other teams,” offered Kassian, who was acquired by the Canadiens from the Vancouver Canucks on July 1st in exchange for Brandon Prust. “I think in training camp, especially as a new guy, you don’t want to be running around. There’s a lot of time for that. I think exhibition games are really where you have to ramp up your intensity. That’s really where you have to display your skills. I’m looking forward to that.”

- Regardless of the score at the end of regulation time, the Canadiens and Maple Leafs will play a five-minute, sudden-death, 3-on-3 overtime period. This is being done in order to ensure that players, coaches and officials have at least a minimum of exposure to the new overtime format before the beginning of the regular season.

While the 3-on-3 OT format was the norm in the AHL during the 2014-15 campaign, it’s something new in the NHL ranks and it has peaked the curiosity of everyone involved.

“Every time the NHL makes a change, it’s with the idea of making the game more interesting for the fans,” stressed Therrien, who will have three preseason games within which to fine-tune his new overtime strategies before the regular season gets underway. “I spoke to a few players about it and they’re excited about the format. We watched clips from the games on Monday, and I think it’s really exciting and the play is really wide open.”

Therrien knows full well that being effective in 3-on-3 situations requires that teams exhibit a few key characteristics.

“It takes speed and puck possession. There are good teams in the NHL, and it will be interesting to see the way they go about things in overtime,” offered Therrien, who also addressed the NHL’s decision to implement new video review practices in 2015-16. “We have to be aware of it. We’ll definitely be paying attention to it. We’re ready. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything is going to play out. I hope I don’t have to use it, but you still have to consider the option.”

- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS.

Projected forward lines and D pairings vs. Toronto:

Andrighetto – Plekanec – Gallagher
De La Rose – Mitchell – Kassian
Carr – Dumont – Smith-Pelly
Bozon – McCarron – Thomas

Emelin – Petry
Tinordi – Pateryn
Barberio – Dietz

Price
Fucale

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