BROSSARD - The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning in preparation for their game against the Los Angeles Kings at the Bell Centre.
- Following the on-ice session, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed a pair of lineup changes for Thursday night's tilt. Up front, Sven Andrighetto draws into the lineup in place of David Desharnais, while Joel Hanley will patrol the blue line in place of Greg Pateryn.
"We have two young guys who've been waiting for their chance to play. I thought this was an opportunity to do that," offered Therrien. "With respect to Andrighetto, he was playing well [in St. John's]. It's never easy to take a player out of the lineup, as was the case with David. In Hanley's case, what we like from him is that he starts rushes well and passes the puck well, too. I've found that our transition game has been a bit off lately. That's why I wanted to put him in the lineup."
Video: Michel Therrien on his lineup changes
- Desharnais will be a healthy scratch after being held without a point since October 20 against Arizona. That's a span of nine straight games. Right now, Therrien believes giving the veteran centerman a chance to watch from afar might just be the best thing for him.
"David is aware of his lack of production, but he has to focus on the process necessary to be productive," explained Therrien, who is confident Desharnais will benefit from the experience of sitting Thursday night's game out, tough as it may be. "He shouldn't focus only on picking up points. He has to ask himself what will allow him to pick up points and what will allow him to be creative offensively. That's what I want him to focus on. He's always reacted well after taking a step back."
- With Desharnais out, Phillip Danault will be playing center. At practice on Wednesday, Danault took turns rotating on a line with captain Max Pacioretty and Andrew Shaw, so that combination could very well repeat itself against Los Angeles.
"I just have to keep using my speed. I can't change my game. If I do, it definitely won't go well. I have to move my feet and stick to the details defensively, which will help us on offense," said Danault, on the subject of staying true to his style of game as he makes the move from left wing to center. "We've done well over the course of the first 13 games of the year, so we have to stay on that track. We have to keep sticking to the details and pick up as many wins as we can."
- Andrighetto, meanwhile, is eager to make his regular season debut with the Canadiens after being recalled from the AHL's St. John's IceCaps on Monday where he amassed five goals and 11 points in 10 games.
With 56 games of NHL experience under his belt - 44 of which came last season - the 23-year-old Swiss forward is more focused on playing a good overall game than just factoring in on the scoresheet.
"I'm not looking at the points. If I play my game every single night, the points will come by itself," mentioned Andrighetto, who put up seven goals and 17 points for the Canadiens during the 2015-16 campaign, and will likely play on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher on Thursday night. "I'm focusing on the little things and doing them right every single night, every single shift. That produces consistency. The points will come with that as well."
Video: Sven Andrighetto on returning to the lineup
- Hanley is also relying on the NHL experience he was privy to last season in Montreal to help him produce a solid regular season debut in the big leagues on Thursday night.
"I think I can lean on that a little bit. It's just confidence that I can play here," shared Hanley, who collected six assists in 10 outings with the Canadiens in 2015-16, before starting this season with Andrighetto in Newfoundland. "It's not too big of a jump [to play in the NHL]. I'm just excited to go out and compete with the guys."
Video: Joel Hanley on his first game of the year in Montreal
- Prior to Thursday night's game, the Canadiens will honour goaltender Rogie Vachon, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.
- Carey Price will get the start in goal for the Canadiens. He could go up against former teammate Peter Budaj in goal for the Kings, who has compiled a 7-3-0 record, 1.86 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage in 11 appearances so far this season. The Kings' No. 31 has helped Los Angeles pick up three straight wins, including back-to-back shutouts over Calgary and Toronto.
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on RDS and Sportsnet 360, as well as on TSN 690 and 98.5 fm.
Probable lineup against Los Angeles:
Byron - Galchenyuk- Radulov
Andrighetto - Plekanec - Gallagher
Pacioretty - Danault - Shaw
Carr - Mitchell - Flynn
Emelin - Weber
Markov - Petry
Beaulieu - Hanley