BROSSARD - Here are some notes from Wednesday's practice at the Bell Sports Complex.
No cause for concern
The Habs were back on the ice following their hard-earned 5-4 win over the Boston Bruins the night before at the Bell Centre, but defensemen Shea Weber and Jeff Petry and forward Nate Thompson took a therapy day in lieu of practice.
Head coach Claude Julien told reporters after the skate that although Petry got a little banged up against the Bruins, there was no cause for concern and he'd be available for Thursday night's contest against the Flyers in Philadelphia.
For his part, Jesperi Kotkaniemi was on the ice for his first full practice with the team since being placed on injured reserve with a groin injury. Julien said that while the Finnish youngster would be making the trip to Pennsylvania, he'd have to discuss Kotkaniemi's status with the trainers before giving a timeline on a possible return.
If it were up to "KK", he'd be back in the lineup to take on the Flyers.
"Today on the ice I was feeling good," described Kotkaniemi, who was placed on IR on Sunday. "From my side, I think I should be ready to go."
Video: Jesperi Kotkaniemi on his health status
If Weber, Petry, and Thompson were the only absences on Wednesday, that meant that Brendan Gallagher was feeling no ill effects from a shot he took to his surgically repaired hand in the third period against Boston.
The Canadiens' alternate captain admitted it gave him a bit of a fright, but that all was in order.
"I was a little scared. It was the first time I've taken one off the plate. It was a different feeling than I was used to, but I had an idea... it stung for a little bit, but once I was in the room there for a while, it started to feel good," recounted Gallagher, who finished the night with one assist, four shots on net and five blocked shots. "They did the X-rays; nothing was there and it was nice to be able to come back on the bench. It was good timing, because Benny [Ben Chiarot] scored right then, so I was able to celebrate with him."
Gallagher and his linemates, Tomas Tatar and Phillip Danault, were once again effective in keeping the Bruins' top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak at bay, holding them to one goal and one assist in total on the night.
They've also been seeing time together on the power play, and although they didn't light the lamp with the man advantage on Tuesday, the Habs' pesky winger believes there's an opportunity to do some damage with his even-strength linemates on special teams.
"Hopefully, we can build some chemistry there," shared Gallagher. "We've been pretty good five-on-five, so hopefully the three of us get some time together or we're able to figure it out and we can make something happen out there."
Video: Gallagher on playing with his line on the power play
From a logistical standpoint, keeping the trio intact on the power play can help tidy things up on the shift chart.
"Looking back maybe at a game like Dallas where there's a lot of penalties both ways, failed kills, we were on the power play so we go through periods where we only have two or three shifts together," outlined the two-time 30-goal scorer. "This way, we're able to keep our lines together, stick together a little bit more, and maybe get a few more shifts together and hopefully make stuff happen."
Turning the corner on the backend
Julien was pleased to see improved performances from some of his D-men, starting with newcomer Ben Chiarot, who scored the game-winner against Beantown.
"In Ben Chiarot's case, it's pretty obvious to everyone that he's been playing better hockey lately. He's coming from a team where the game was pretty aggressive, man-on-man, etc. He was playing differently in Winnipeg," explained Julien of Chiarot, who played his first 305 NHL games in Manitoba. "They're a big team, so they would often send pucks along the boards and they made sure the forwards were there to do the job. We play differently here, so it was maybe a bit of a learning curve. From what I'm seeing, he's adapting pretty well. He's been playing well lately, he's playing a lot better."
Video: Claude Julien's press conference
There was also Victor Mete, who scored a pair of goals against Boston after netting his first career marker just weeks before and who seems to be finding a new comfort level in his third NHL campaign.
"Victor is gaining confidence. He's scoring goals and he's a guy, like it's always been said, who can relaunch the attack with his speed," said Julien. "We're continuing to work with him on some things he's still having trouble with."
The Habs left immediately for Philadelphia following practice. They'll take on the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.