BROSSARD - The Canadiens returned to the Bell Sports Complex on Saturday morning for final preparations ahead of their tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre, but will have to wait until closer to puck drop before knowing what their lineup will look like.
That's because Tomas Plekanec missed the morning skate with flu-like symptoms, which had been the case the previous day with teammate Alex Galchenyuk. Head coach Claude Julien told the media after practice that Plekanec would be a game-time decision.
For his part, Galchenyuk was back on the ice on Saturday morning, but Julien wouldn't confirm whether the 23-year-old would dress against the Leafs. Either way, seeing his friend and teammate skating again was a boon for forward Brendan Gallagher.
"It's good to see him feeling better this morning. He was in rough shape yesterday, but he looks good and feels good. I'm sure he's going to talk to the doctors, but I'd expect to see him in there tonight," he noted. "He's a big part of our team, so hopefully he can have a good night."
Video: Gallagher on seeing Galchenyuk back at practice
The Habs also announced in the morning that they had recalled defenseman David Schlemko from the AHL's Laval Rocket. He had been sent there on Friday for a conditioning stint and picked up an assist in Laval's 8-7 overtime win over the Binghamton Devils. However, Julien confirmed that the blue-liner would not be suiting up to face Toronto, saying that he wasn't 100% ready for game action.
Montreal will be looking to end a three-game losing skid on Saturday after falling to the Chicago Blackhawks in their home opener earlier in the week. With a day off sandwiched between two practice days in the interim, Gallagher feels his squad will be up for the challenge when the puck drops at the Bell Centre against Toronto.
"They were two good practice days. We worked hard, we competed and we pushed each other. That's what you need to do when things aren't going your way," explained No. 11. "You need to come into practice and get better, battle and push each other. Hopefully, we'll see it pay off here tonight."
The Canadiens have won 14 straight games against Toronto dating back to March 2014, but if Jonathan Drouin has any say in the matter, the Habs won't be taking anything for granted given the hot start their opponents have enjoyed.
"They're a fast team, you can compare them to Chicago a bit when they were younger - Kane and Toews, they're similar caliber players," reasoned the 22-year-old. "It's up to us to take control of the game and dictate the pace. If we let them have their way with the puck, we'll be in trouble."
Video: Drouin on preparing for the Maple Leafs
Nineteen-year-old defenseman Victor Mete has already faced the Leafs in the preseason, but feels this is the first 'real' opportunity for the Woodbridge, ON native to face his childhood team and can't wait to get started.
"They were my favorite team growing up. Now, being able to play against them in a real game is very special," described Mete, who said he's been swapping texts with Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner, a former teammate of his for two years with the London Knights. "It should be a good one."
Video: Mete on finding his routine in Montreal
The game marks the Canadiens' first in a series of FANatics Saturdays, this one featuring an autograph session with Chris Nilan, discounts on concession food and non-alcoholic drinks and much more. Visit canadiens.com/saturday for more details.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on TV on CBC, TVA Sports and NHLN-US, along with TSN 690 and 98,5 fm on the radio.