- The Canadiens skated at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday morning ahead of their tilt against the Nashville Predators. Michel Therrien’s troops are going in search of a fourth straight victory, while Peter Laviolette’s contingent boasts the second-highest win total on home ice in the NHL. They also currently sit third in the Western Conference standings, just three points back of Anaheim for top spot.
“They’re a group that like to put a lot of pressure on guys. They’ve got a good defensive unit, an excellent goalie and a lot of speed, too. They put a lot of pressure on the opposing team and it’s tough to play against them,” explained Therrien, who has seen his club outscore their opponents by a 14-7 margin over the last five games. “We’ve got to make sure that we execute well against Nashville and that we jump on loose pucks. We’ll have to be on our toes and put pressure on them.”
- The Canadiens’ bench boss confirmed that Torrey Mitchell will return to the lineup on Tuesday night after missing the last four games with an upper-body injury. To make room for Mitchell, Manny Malhotra will be a healthy scratch. In addition, Nathan Beaulieu will be in the lineup in place of Tom Gilbert on defense.
- If the Predators boast plenty of firepower up front, the same can be said about the weapons they’ve got on the back end. Captain Shea Weber is among the best offensive rearguards in the NHL, and former Olympic teammate P.K. Subban acknowledged that once again on Tuesday, mentioning that he welcomed the challenge of trying to slow him down.
“I don’t like to talk about players from the other team, but Shea’s done so much in the League in such a short period of time and he’s one of the best in the League right now. He’ll probably go down as one of the best in the game. I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” offered Subban, who claimed gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi alongside the Sicamous, BC native. “That being said, I just have to focus on my job and what I have to do. I can’t focus on Shea. He’s their leader. He’s their captain. I just have to do my job. I’ll see him out there.”
He certainly will, particularly in situations when the Canadiens might find themselves down a man at any point in time. Weber is the epitome of a power play quarterback, boasting a slap shot that is nothing short of devastating. You’ll recall that Weber registered the second-hardest shot in the history of the All-Star skills competition back in January with a blast of 108.5 mph.
“It takes a lot more than courage to block one of his shots. We can go into detail about it, but I don’t know if I can discuss it on camera. He can break your ankle. He can break your leg. That’s how hard it is,” explained Subban, who sits seven points clear of Weber among the League’s top point-getting defensemen. “You have to be aware of that and focus on taking time and space away from him. I know that I like to shoot the puck as well. If you give someone time and space to shoot it, they can hurt somebody. That’s why Pricey has all that equipment on.”
- Carey Price will make his 60th start of the season on Tuesday night. He holds a 2-3-0 record, a 2.17 goals-against average, and a .943 save percentage in five career outings against Nashville. His opponent, Pekka Rinne, boasts a 3-1-1 record against the Canadiens, having given up just six goals in five starts.
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau had the opportunity to play against Rinne on a few occasions as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, and he insists that the Canadiens’ starter is still the best in the business.
“They’re two very different guys. But, I think Carey has shown things this year that just haven’t been seen before in the history of the game. I think he’s the best there is,” mentioned Parenteau, who went on to praise Rinne’s physical attributes and playing style between the pipes. “He’s a guy with big legs and big arms. He’s never out of it. He’s an excellent goaltender. He’s different than Carey, but they’re definitely the two top guys in the NHL.”
- Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet East.