BROSSARD - The Canadiens will hit the ice on Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes with a few tweaks to their lineup at the Bell Centre.
Up front, head coach Claude Julien is going with Andreas Martinsen and Michael McCarron in place of Dwight King and Steve Ott, while Brandon Davidson replaces Nathan Beaulieu on the back end.
Carey Price will be back between the pipes.
It goes without saying that Martinsen is pleased to see game action and prove himself after watching the last five games from the press box.
"Now, I'm playing on one of the best teams in the League. We really have a tough lineup, so you've just got to see it that way and do whatever it takes to stay ready and take your chance when you get it," admitted the Norwegian, who checks in at six-foot-three and 220 pounds.
Video: Andreas Martinsen on his return to the lineup
In his first game with the Canadiens on March 4, Martinsen did solid work. He's hoping to build on that performance on Thursday night.
"I set the standard [against the Rangers] there and showed how I could play. Now, I've got to be ready to do that every night," mentioned Martinsen, who should play on a line with McCarron and Torrey Mitchell.
McCarron is also eager to make the most of the opportunity he's being given against Carolina.
"We have a great team. Anybody can come in at any time into the lineup. It's just key to stay ready. When you're not playing, it's mentally challenging, but at the same time the guys around here keep it pretty light and make you feel like you're a part of the team, even when you're not playing. That helps a lot. I'm just ready to play any time and tonight I have another chance," said McCarron, who has one goal and four assists in 26 games this season.
The towering American forward knows exactly what he has to do to be given playing time.
"I just think I need to continue to create energy for this team. That's my role as of right now. Be a good fourth-line guy and play hard, finish my checks and maybe get the fourth line on the board a little bit. That would help [me] stay in the lineup," explained the 22-year-old.
Video: Michael McCarron on continuing to work hard
Earlier in the week, Julien mentioned that he'd prefer to keep McCarron with the big club instead of sending him back to St. John's. That meant a lot to him.
"It's fun to be here, and when I get in the lineup it's fun to play in these games late in season with a playoff mentality. I want to show that I can play this late in the season," added McCarron.
Looking past the Hurricanes because of their position in the standings would be a mistake. Bill Peters' squad has suffered just one loss in regulation time in their last 10 outings, going 6-1-3 during that span.
"They have youth and speed. They're a very aggressive team. The defensemen are really active and I'd say that 80 percent of the time, they're coming down as a unit of four because the defensemen jump in to join the rush. That team is headed in the right direction and if someone thinks that we're in for an easy game, they're wrong. We know it will be a big challenge. We need to be at our best," mentioned Julien.
Video: Claude Julien's post-skate press conference
He's hopeful that the new line of Artturi Lehkonen, Andrew Shaw and Alex Galchenyuk will have a big game against the Hurricanes. Following Thursday morning's optional skate, the Canadiens' bench boss shared some kind words about Lehkonen, in particular.
"I like everything he brings. He's a young player with good hockey sense. He's almost playing like a veteran, not a rookie. I like the way he handles himself out there. He's reliable and he has a lot of skill offensively. He can score goals, like we saw the other night. I also like his attitude. He's a young player who wants to learn, who wants to grow as a player. He already thinks like a pro," stressed Julien.
For his part, the 21-year-old Finn is happy to have Galchenyuk playing alongside him on the same line.
"It's going to be great. I know that Shawzy has been playing as a center and Galchenyuk has been playing wing. I think we can have good chemistry out there. We've just got to go out there and work hard and really put the effort in there. I believe we can make something happen," said Lehkonen, who has 13 goals and 19 points on the year.
Video: Artturi Lehkonen on his new line
"I try to do pretty much everything out there, get the pucks back on the forecheck and really do the job defensively also, the all-around game that we're trying to do. Chucky is really good with the puck, so we've just got to try to put our sticks on the ice," added the Canadiens' No. 62.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet East and RDS, as well as on TSN Radio 690 and 98,5 fm.