BROSSARD – In light of their three games in four nights, the Canadiens showed up at practice at the Bell Sports Complex ready to prep for days to come. The Philadelphia Flyers are up first and with a 5-2-1 start to the season, they’re sure to be a tough opponent. The boys were in good spirits though, aware of what’s to come on Wednesday night.
Preparing for the attack: Playing against a team that counts some of the top players in the league is a definitely something you need to get ready for. For Yannick Weber, it’s a matter of knowing what you’re up against.
“I think the Flyers have one of the best teams in the league right now,” started off the Swiss defenseman. “They have a lot of talented players: I think of Giroux, Briere and Jagr. For us it’s a great test. We’ll need to play solid defense and create some plays on the offensive side. If we come out playing our game we’ll get that victory.
“A win against a team like that right before the two back-to-back games against Boston is a really big deal,” concluded Weber, who is leading the team with a plus-4 differential so far this season.
Recognizing a legend: Among all active skaters, Jaromir Jagr is leading the NHL with the most all-time points. After spending the last few years in the KHL, the prolific right winger and his 1,606 points are back in North America ready to take on the Habs on Wednesday night.
“He was one of the most dominant offensive players in the league; I don’t think he’s taken much time off in the last years,” said Hal Gill of the All-Star Czech winger who had four 100-plus point seasons with the Penguins in the nineties. “He’s a big player with great hands, plus he’s got a good reach and the speed to back it all up. We’ll have to play him as a five-man unit. We need to know when he’s got the puck because he’s able to see players where you wouldn’t expect them.”
Having spent his share of time watching his compatriot firsthand back home, Jaroslav Spacek agrees with Gill’s assessment.
“I knew that when he’d come back, he’d be in amazing shape. He wants to be the best and is never satisfied, even if he scores three or four goals in a night,” shared Spacek who won gold and bronze medals alongside Jagr in the 1998 and 2006 Olympics, respectively. “He can carry a whole team but if we put a lot of pressure on him there’s a chance he can crack.”
Back on track?: Having left Monday’s tilt in the second period, Max Pacioretty was back on the ice for practice on Wednesday. Montreal’s head coach alluded to the possibility of seeing his young power forward in the lineup against the Flyers.
“For Max it’ll be a game-time decision. He tested his injury out on the ice this morning and we’ll see if he’s ready or not for tonight. It’s still good news. Even if he doesn’t play tonight, it means he’ll be back on the ice soon enough,” explained Jacques Martin. “In the past Max showed a good tolerance to pain but still, the whole team needs to be ready for tonight.”
The Canadiens will be hosting the Flyers Wednesday night at the Bell Centre before flying off to Boston for Thursday’s clash against the Bruins.
Lee Anne Vincent O'Connor is a writer for canadiens.com.
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