KANATA – The Canadiens held an optional morning skate at the Bell SensPlex hours before taking on the Ottawa Senators later on Thursday.
Only six players practiced, including David Desharnais, who missed the last game against New Jersey with the flu. Francis Bouillon, Michael Bournival, George Parros, Douglas Murray and Peter Budaj were also on the ice.
“David [Desharnais] is skating this morning, so already that’s good news, but he’ll be a game time decision,” announced head coach Michel Therrien, who also commented on the growing rivalry between Montreal and Ottawa.
“Great rivalries start in the playoffs, as we saw last season. [The Senators] played a good series and deserved to win,” acknowledged Therrien, who saw his team defeated by the underdog Sens in five game during the first round of the playoffs last season. The Senators followed up that performance by winning both of their season meetings against the Canadiens so far.
“For sure they have the momentum right now, but that can change very quickly,” cautioned the Habs’ coach.
“It’s always an intense rivalry, which has been going on for a few years now,” commented Francis Bouillon regarding the intra-division matchup between two teams based just over an hour’s drive apart from one another. “Many Habs fan make the trip down to Ottawa, so it’s always exciting for us to come here. The games are always close, and it’ll be an important two points for us to get tonight.”
Craig Anderson should be in net for the Senators tonight. The 32 year-old goaltender is making his thirteenth career start against the Habs and currently holds a 6-6-0 record against Montreal. Coach Paul MacLean will also have pesky forward Chris Neil back from injury tonight and is expected to pen him into the starting lineup.
Carey Price, for his part, will make his 23rd career start against Ottawa, against which he has a 14-6-4 record (2.22GAA, .923sv%). It’ll be the third of four match-ups between the two teams this season.