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CBJ@MTL: Countering size with speed

The Canadiens will have to use their best asset if they want to beat John Tortorella's squad

by Pierre-Antoine Mercier, translated by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - Claude Julien's troops are anxiously awaiting the Columbus Blue Jackets, who visit the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.

The Canadiens are well aware of the style of game that John Tortorella's squad brings to the table, and Montreal's head coach recognizes that his group will have to be ready the moment the puck drops.

"John Tortorella's teams are always aggressive and physical. They're tough teams to play against," explained Julien during his pregame press conference. "We have to play our game tonight. We're able to manage the physical aspect of a game. To stop us, they'll have to slow us down. We hope to use our speed to get power plays and create scoring chances."

Video: Claude Julien's pregame press conference

The Habs will be up against rookie goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who is having a tough start to his NHL career with a 3.91 goals-against average and .882 save percentage in four games this season. Merzlikins is still looking for his first career NHL win.

The Jackets as a whole have had a rough go of it so far in 2019-20, having put together a 6-8-3 record in 17 games.

That said, the Habs know Tuesday's game won't be a walk in the park.

"We have to be ready every time we play a team that's outside the playoff picture. They're going to be hungry and desperate," outlined defenseman Ben Chiarot, who has three goals for five points this season. "If we were in their situation, we'd come out strong. We have to be ready from the start."

A physical matchup awaits

Expect to see a very physical game between the Canadiens and the Blue Jackets when hostilities get underway at the Bell Centre.

While Columbus is ranked 18th in the League with 355 hits, the Canadiens actually sit much higher with 455, which is fifth-best. And so the players are confident they can go toe-to-toe with their Ohio-based opponents.

"They play a very physical game. We also have some players here who are able to play physical. It doesn't really bother us," shared Chiarot after Tuesday's morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex. "We're a pretty fast team, we can use our speed when they want to hit us. I would say we feel pretty comfortable regardless of the kind of game the other team plays."

Video: Ben Chiarot on the Blue Jackets

Weber should play 

For his part, captain Shea Weber missed a second straight practice because of a virus.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Shea Weber ne sera pas de l'entra��nement matinal d���aujourd'hui (virus).Shea Weber will not practice today (virus).#GoHabsGo

The Canadiens head coach did, however, confirm that Weber should be in the lineup against Columbus.

"He should be ready to play tonight," mentioned Julien. "We gave him the morning off so that he would have the best chance to be ready this evening."

Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the Bell Centre. For tickets, click here.

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