- The Canadiens held a full game day skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Tuesday. Michel Therrien’s troops will be looking for a third straight win in their first game back from the All-Star break, while the visiting Dallas Stars will be hoping to bounce back from a 3-1 loss to the Bruins a week ago.
- Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, currently sidelined with a concussion, was the only player absent from practice. The 31-year-old forward suffered the initial injury back on January 2 in New Jersey, but returned to the lineup on January 14-15 in Columbus and Ottawa, respectively. Most recently, however, he has missed a pair of games against the Islanders and Predators.
- Goaltender Carey Price was back on the ice on Tuesday morning after missing practice on Monday due to a delayed flight back from All-Star Weekend in Columbus. Price will make his ninth career start against the Stars.
- While the Canadiens had trouble finding the back of the net with the man advantage over the first half of the season, the struggling special teams unit has turned its fortunes around more recently, scoring seven power play goals over the last four games for a power play efficiency of 33%.
“I don’t know if we’re doing things differently. Sometimes it’s really just about confidence and luck. We’ve always been able to score timely goals on the power play when we’ve had to,” explained Subban, who nevertheless praised the recent work of his partner on the blue line, Andrei Markov.
“He makes a big difference when he’s on the ice, especially with all the experience he has on the power play. He knows where to put the puck and how quickly to pass it,” added Subban, who’s seen Markov rack up five power play assists over the last four games. “He can often be the difference between getting a scoring chance and scoring a goal.”
- One of the stingiest teams on defense this season, allowing just 2.33 goals per game, the Canadiens will be put to the test against one of the NHL’s top-scoring teams as the Stars arrive in Montreal with an average of 3.09 goals scored per game.
“The entire league is extremely competitive right now and the standings are tight. One game can change your season. They’re going to come in fighting and we’re ready for that. They’re a team that scores a lot of goals, so we’re expecting a challenge,” acknowledged defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, who will take on a familiar face in Tyler Seguin on Tuesday.
“I played against him a bit when we were younger. He was playing in Toronto which wasn’t very far from me. He’s a great player who’s enjoying a career season,” underlined Beaulieu of the league’s top scorer with 28 goals so far this season. “He’s fast and he's got a good shot. We’ll need to take his time and space away from him tonight.”
- Rookie Jiri Sekac was also back at practice for the first time this week following his participation in Saturday’s NHL Skills Competition in Columbus. Although he arrived back in Montreal later than expected, the 22-year-old winger was still soaking in his All-Star experience.
“It was a lot of fun. It was a great experience for me and I really enjoyed being around those guys. I’m happy that I was able to be there,” admitted Sekac, who finished sixth overall in the Fastest Skater race.
“The mood there, both on and off the ice, was amazing. Everyone there has a bright future and they know it. When you see how they prepare for games and what they can do on the ice, it’s amazing. It’s not the kind of stuff you see every day,” added the six-foot-two, 195-pound forward who has registered seven goals and eight assists over 38 games so far this season.
While Sekac’s road to the All-Star Weekend may have taken him all the way to Ohio and back, it was a player from closer to home who impressed the Kladno, CZ native most at the league event.
“My friend Jay [Jakub Voracek] has become really good over the last couple of months. He’s an amazing player,” praised Sekac of his Czech countryman. “He’s big, he’s strong on the puck, and he's a great skater – he was one of the best players there.”
The biggest takeaway for Sekac, however, comes in the form of the added boost of confidence the former KHLer now returns to Montreal with just in time for the second half of the season.
“It was huge for me. If someone told me last summer that I would be an NHL All-Star I would have laughed. It was a great feeling for me because a couple of months ago I didn’t even know if I would make the team, so having success this season has been a huge thing for me.”
Forward lines at practice
Bournival – Malhotra - Thomas
Weise – Plekanec – Pacioretty
Galchenyuk – Desharnais – Gallagher
Prust – Eller – Sekac