PITTSBURGH - Even if the Penguins are doing without the services of captain Sidney Crosby, Claude Julien's troops will have to be ulta vigilant on defense on Tuesday night.
In Crosby's absence, forwards Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel have picked up the slack for Mike Sullivan's squad.
Usually playing alongside Crosby, Guentzel seems to be very comfortable skating with Malkin, too: the 25-year-old winger has four goals and 10 points in his last six games.
For his part, Malkin has posted four goals, eight assists, and 12 points in that same span.
The Habs head coach recognizes that his players will have to be particularly alert whenever Malkin and Guentzel are on the ice at PPG Paints Arena.
"The five players on the ice will always have to be aware. They'll have to work as a unit. We're going to do what we can to have the right players on the ice, but we also don't want to lose momentum by preoccupying ourselves with it too much," explained Julien about wanting to use the Phillip Danault line to counter Malkin's. "We don't want to destabilize our bench. It's a matter of principle and ensuring that everyone is aware of the players on the ice, and having confidence in them to get the job done."
Video: Claude Julien's pregame press conference @ PIT
Without the last change, the veteran bench boss knows his fourth line will sometimes have to face the Penguins' top trio.
That said, the players in question aren't concerned about their ability to handle the assignment.
"We have to be responsible. With a player like Nate Thompson, he has experience. I can use my speed. I feel comfortable playing against them, but we'll have to pay special attention," explained Matthew Peca. "We have to make good decisions and keep things simple. We have to try to be in the offensive zone when they're on the ice."
Following Tuesday's optional morning skate, Julien confirmed that Carey Price would get the start against Pittsburgh.
Special night on the horizon for Barber
Fresh off his recall from the Laval Rocket, forward Riley Barber will play his first game with the Canadiens in his hometown.
No doubt, the night promises to be a memorable one for the 25-year-old winger.
"I was a really big Penguins fan. I was there when they won the Stanley Cup in Detroit. I remember when Mario Lemieux bought the team. He had a kid a little bit older than me, and he was around the rink at times, so I saw him growing up," recalled Barber, who will be playing his fourth career NHL game. "And when [the Penguins] drafted Sidney Crosby, it was a big thing for me and my brothers, that's for sure."
Video: Riley Barber on his first game with the Canadiens
Barber will fill out the Habs' fourth line alongside Peca and Thompson.
Peca and Barber have been playing on the same line with the Rocket in the AHL this season, and it's safe to say the pair have developed some good chemistry together in Laval.
"He's a good player. He has good hockey sense and he's always in the right spots," praised Peca of Barber. "I think we complement each other well."
Video: Matthew Peca on Riley Barber
The Canadiens-Penguins game is set to get underway at 7:00 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena.