MONTREAL - The Canadiens head into the final sprint of training camp by playing host to the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre on Friday.
With less than a week to go before the start of the regular season, 37 players - including five who are injured - remain in Montreal. Several players who are still fighting for a roster spot with the big club will be in uniform against the Panthers in an effort to convince management that they belong in the NHL.
Among them, Charles Hudon, Michael McCarron, Jakub Jerabek and Victor Mete will all be facing Florida at the Bell Centre.
After practice, head coach Claude Julien announced that Charlie Lindgren would get the start after returning from injury, with Zachary Fucale serving as his backup.
Although he's been regularly paired up with Shea Weber throughout camp, Mete is likely to patrol the blue line alongside Jordie Benn against the Panthers, as was the case at practice on Thursday. For his part, defenseman Jakub Jerabek will play his first preseason game since September 21 against the New Jersey Devils.
Forward Nikita Scherbak was called up from the AHL's Laval Rocket on Thursday, and is slated to suit up for the game.
As for the Panthers, they are coming off a 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
The Canadiens-Panthers showdown will be Florida's final game of the exhibition calendar, and new head coach Bob Boughner plans on icing a veteran-heavy roster for the affair. Roberto Luongo is expected to start in goal, while defensemen Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad and forwards Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad are set to play.
Julien's troops are still on the hunt for their first win of the preseason. In their last outing, on Wednesday night in Quebec City, the Habs fell 4-2 at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs. They play their eighth and last exhibition game on Saturday night in Montreal against the Ottawa Senators.