- The Canadiens held a rare game day skate at the Bell Centre on Saturday morning in preparation for their tilt against the visiting Detroit Red Wings. The team practiced in downtown Montreal as part of Tim Hortons Coaching Day.
- Carey Price will make his fifth start of the season in goal on Saturday. The All-Star netminder holds a 7-3-1 record against Detroit all-time, with a 0.919 save percentage and 2.43 goals against average. Last season, Price went a perfect 3-0-0 against the Red Wings.
- Since taking part in the NHL season opener on October 7 in Toronto, head coach Michel Therrien has iced the same lineup up front every night, and will do so again on Saturday against the Wings.
“Chemistry and stability - it’s rare to see that so soon and for so long, but that’s been the case for us, and we’re being rewarded for it,” underlined Pacioretty, who should once again flank Tomas Plekanec opposite Brendan Gallagher on the first line. “Now it’s our job to keep it going.”
Indeed, with every player having now made a mark on the scoresheet except three after just two weeks of action, Therrien has little incentive to start mixing things up.
“We get a lot of momentum from shift to shift. We don’t have to worry about matchups, because we know that all our lines are firing, and anybody can go out there against any pairing,” continued the Habs captain, who leads the team with six points after five games. “We’re rolling four lines, we’re always in the game, and we’re never getting tired because of it. I think it’s been a big thing for us.”
Chemistry and stability meanwhile are all Tomas Fleischmann has gotten to know since joining the Canadiens this fall as a free agent, and the former Anaheim Duck has quickly gelled with his new company, scoring each of the Habs’ last two game-winners.
“We have a really good center. [David Desharnais] wins a lot of face offs and supports us everywhere on the ice. You’ve got to give him a lot of credit for our success,” added the 31-year-old Czech. “He’s a great skilled player, and very good defensively. I’ve enjoyed playing with him and [Dale Weise] here.”
- The Canadiens take on the Red Wings for the first time without Mike Babcock at the helm since 2005 on Saturday. Despite the offseason coaching change however, the Wings arrive in Montreal with an impressive 3-1-0 record.
“They’re a motivated team. It’s the first major change they’ve had in awhile so they’re playing motivated hockey. Coming in with a tough loss last night, they’re going to want to turn things back around tonight, but I’m expecting a lot of energy from our guys too because it’s Saturday night in Montreal,” acknowledged Pacioretty.
“I always like playing against Detroit, so I’m looking forward to tonight. I think they’ve been one of the top teams in the NHL for a long time, even before Babcock arrived,” stressed Fleischmann. “That’s still the case now because they have a lot of very good players. It’s going to be a good matchup for us.”
- The Habs worked on the power play once again on Saturday, looking to improve on the club’s 9.5% efficiency with the man advantage thus far.
“We need to continue generating shots and feeling confident shooting the puck. It’s hard to create chances for your teammates if you’re worried about your shot getting blocked. You want to have positive energy on the ice. Sometimes it’ll work and sometimes it won’t, but if guys want to block a shot -- let them, because we know that they’ll have to pay the price for it,” prescribed power play specialist P.K. Subban. “We’ve all been playing hockey for a long time, and we know how to have success on the power play -- get pucks on net, traffic in front of it, and create second and third chances. I think we’ve done a good job of that so far.”
Fortunately, the team can also count on experience behind the bench with the addition of Craig Ramsay to the coaching staff this season.
“He brings some experience and knowledge that you can’t really pick up unless you’ve been around for as long as he has,” acknowledged Subban. “He studies teams so he already gave us some great insight on the team we’re playing tonight,”
“He’s a guy with a lot of experience, and he understands the little things. It’s nice to have another voice in the room,” agreed Brendan Gallagher. “We don’t like that the power play isn’t doing it’s job, and we’re hungry to correct that.”
- Off to their hottest start in franchise history after going 5-0-0 to start the season, the Habs insist it’s nevertheless been business as usual both on the ice and behind closed doors.
“Things don’t feel any different on our side, but anyone playing us knows that we haven’t lost a game yet. We just hope that doesn’t change any time soon,” admitted Subban. “We had a good practice this morning and we’ll be well rested for the game because the majority of our guys didn’t skate on Friday. We play a very demanding style of hockey and we’ll need to outwork the Red Wings tonight.”
The Habs are one of just two undefeated teams remaining in the NHL, along with the 4-0-0 San Jose Sharks, illustrating just how impressive -- and tough -- the feat has been to accomplish thus far.
“We’ve been able to pick up some quick points here at the beginning, but that needs to continue,” concluded the star defenseman.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on TVA Sports and CBC.
From the room
Two-year extension for Tomas Plekanec