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NYR@MTL: Rivalry renewed

Habs eager to turn things around against rival Rangers on Saturday night

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD -- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the Bell Sports Complex on Saturday, ahead of facing the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre.

Jordie Benn, Brandon Davidson, Jacob De La Rose, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk, Charles Hudon, Michael McCarron, Victor Mete, Torrey Mitchell, Al Montoya, Joe Morrow, and Carey Price were the 12 players who hit the ice at the team's south shore practice facility.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Entra��nement optionnel pour les Canadiens ce matin / Optional skate for the Canadiens this morning. #GoHabsGo

Claude Julien did not hold a morning press conference, so any changes to the lineup will only be known closer to puck drop.

The Habs head coach did confirm on Friday however, that Carey Price will be back in goal to face the Blueshirts.



The Habs and Rangers most recently met in the 2017 playoffs, of course, and then again during this season's opening road swing, in New York on October 8.

The Habs lost that opening round series 4-2, and then dropped this year's rematch 2-0 earlier this month in Manhattan.

Since then, Montreal and New York have gotten off of to similar 2-7-1 and 3-6-2 starts in their first 10 and 11 games, respectively, and the renewed rivals would love to turn their seasons around at the expense of the other.

"Yeah, we're both in a similar position right now. We've had similar starts to the year. Both teams already don't really like each other from the playoffs last year, and we're both trying [to get out of a funk] as quickly as possible," underlined forward Jonathan Drouin, who registered one career point while with Tampa in seven games against the Rangers. "We both want to start winning some games, so it should be a pretty good one tonight."

Indeed, pleasantries should be at a premium on Saturday night.

"Whenever you face a team in the playoffs -- it doesn't matter -- at some point in the next year you'll play them and there will be an extra something. A little more jump, more stick checks, more cross checks…" continued Drouin, who will play his second game against New York as a Hab, and first in Montreal. "We definitely felt that [at MSG], and it's going to be the same tonight at the Bell Centre."



The Canadiens have been regularly outshooting their opponents early on this season, and are first in the NHL with an average of 38.4 shots per game.

All that rubber hasn't exactly translated into goals though, at least not yet. Having found the back of the net just 17 times through 10 games this season, Montreal ranks 31st league-wide in Goals For.

Something's got to give.

"Those are going to start going in for us, and that's really what we believe in here," stressed forward Michael McCarron, who was called up from Laval on October 22. "We've got great leadership in the room. Everybody's saying the right things and doing the right things, and when that happens, you're going to get rewarded. It's only a matter of time."

In the meantime, the Habs will look towards special teams as a means to get the offence going.

"[The power play] was a big difference during the Florida game. It changed the game completely to get two power play goals," added Drouin, who picked up assists on both tallies with the man advantage on Tuesday. "That's how you win games these days. You turn a 1-1 game into a 2-1 game, then 3-1… Our power play's been good, but it's got to be even better.

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