- The Canadiens skated at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday morning ahead of their 7:30 p.m. tilt against the Detroit Red Wings.
- Ben Scrivens will get his first start in goal on Thursday since March 19 in Ottawa. The 29-year-old netminder has faced a combined 87 shots in his last two outings, making 80 saves over a win and a loss against the Sabres and Senators respectively.
- Head coach Michel Therrien announced following the morning skate that forwards Sven Andrighetto and Jacob De La Rose will both be healthy scratches in Detroit.
- De La Rose will be replaced in the lineup by David Desharnais, who returns to action from a lower body injury which had sidelined the forward since February 15 in Arizona.
“It’s nice to finally be back and be able to help my teammates,” underlined the 29-year-old forward who has missed the team’s last 17 games. “I’m a bit nervous, for sure, coming back from a long absence like this. As a player, you always want to play and help your teammates win.”
Desharnais will center a line with Michael McCarron and Stefan Matteau against the Wings.
“I’m excited to be back at center, and I want to help the ‘big guy’ over there play well,” cracked Desharnais on the topic of his new six-foot-six linemate. “And he can help me too by taking the draws on his strong side. We’re going to work together to help each other out tonight.”
McCarron meanwhile is eager to take advantage of the veteran presence.
“He’s a veteran guy who’s been in the league quite a long time, and he’s known for being a great player,” dished the 21-year-old. “He can find you and get the puck to you and I’m super excited to be playing with him tonight. It should be a fun time, and a great opportunity for me to prove myself and play with different players.”
- A pair of Habs will enjoy a homecoming of sorts in Detroit when Michigan natives McCarron and Greg Pateryn skate onto the Joe Louis Arena ice prior to puck drop on Thursday.
McCarron will be facing his hometown team for the first time, and expects a huge newly converted Habs contingent on-site for the occasion.
“Upwards of 40 to 50 of my friends and family are coming tonight. I actually turned my phone my off, because I didn’t want to respond to all the text messages and that stuff. My parents are taking care of all the tickets and I’m just focusing on the game and the task at hand,” revealed the Grosse Pointe native. “For as long as I can remember I came to games here with my grandparents and parents. The Red Wings were always my team, so I’m super excited to be playing here at the Joe tonight.”
Pateryn for his part returns to Detroit for the second time this season, but admits the experience is still one he circles on his calendar.
“Being from here and growing up here, I’ve watched a lot games in this rink and watched this team play my whole life, so it’s always a special moment to come back and play in front of the crowd here and against the Red Wings,” acknowledged the Sterling Heights native, who will likewise have some friendly faces in the crowd. “My parents were the only ones in town, so they’ll be coming to the game. I’m trying to not make too big a deal about coming back -- I’m trying to stay humble about it -- but if people come to the game to see me, then that’s exciting.”
- Detroit currently sits nine points ahead of the Habs in the standings, tied with Philadelphia for the East’s final wildcard spot with nine games left to play.
It was no secret on Thursday that the Canadiens intend to make the Red Wings work should they like to keep their 24-year playoff streak intact.
“If we can play spoiler that’s what we want to do. Obviously there are no personal grudges, but we we all have something to prove in this room -- whether you’re a young guy or an older guy trying to stick around,” admitted captain Max Pacioretty. “Everybody in this room has something to prove, and if we can get a couple of wins here, it’ll be a pretty good feeling down the stretch.”