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Small changes in the Big Apple

Julien hints that lineup changes could be made ahead of Game 3 on Sunday, shares update on Emelin

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

NEW YORK -- The Canadiens benefited from a travel day on Saturday, as head coach Claude Julien elected to not hit the ice in Brossard before flying to New York.

Upon arriving in the Big Apple in the afternoon, the Habs bench boss shared a number of updates from the team's hotel in Manhattan.

EMELIN ON THE MEND

Defenseman Alexei Emelin did not travel with his teammates to New York, as he continues to recover from a lower body injury suffered on April 5 opposite Buffalo.

Having already missed Games 1 and 2 against the Rangers, Emelin has been ruled out for Game 3 on Sunday, but Julien nevertheless hinted that good news may be on the way for the Russian rearguard.

"He's day-to-day -- he stayed behind but he's going to start skating. Day-to-day means there's always a possibility. I'm going by the information I'm given, but he's starting to skate, so that's good," explained the 56-year-old bench boss regarding the rugged blue-liner, who finished the regular season ninth league-wide with 241 hits. "By staying back home, he's going to get better treatments than he would on the road. We made the decision to leave him in [Montreal] for the reason that we want to have him back as soon as possible. That's where he is right now."

Video: Julien provides an update on Emelin

CHUCKY IN THE MIDDLE

A bright spot among many from Friday's Game 2 win at the Bell Centre, Alex Galchenyuk finished the contest centering a line with Andrew Shaw and Artturi Lehkonen, after starting the evening on the wing opposite Steve Ott and Andreas Martinsen.

Ending the night a plus-1 differential, one assist and five shots on goal, the 23-year-old impressed his head coach in the outing, with Julien hinting that Galchenyuk could find himself back in the middle on Sunday.

"If they're all healthy, we'll see," indicated the Canadiens coach. "I think he had good jump [on Friday]. He looked like a guy who was really on top of his game, and it was my job to give him an opportunity to be in another position where he could help us even more. I really thought that Shawzy at center last night wasn't as solid as he's been, so I decided to put Chucky back in the middle and Shawzy in a place that he's more familiar with. That line was okay for us, I thought they played well. It made our fourth line a bit bigger, so it wasn't like we weakened anything -- just changed the look a little bit."

SMALL CHANGES, BIG APPLE

With 24 hours still to go before puck drop, it's important to note that any possible tweaks for Game 3 are not exactly set in stone just yet.

"I hate giving lineup changes [in advance] in case something happens. If something comes up tomorrow, I'd rather let you guys know tomorrow," underlined Julien. "Without hiding anything, it's just a matter of a lot of things going on around the team -- sickness, and all that stuff -- so I'd rather play safe than sorry."

Indeed, the Habs aren't entirely clear of flu season yet.

"That's been going around for the last few weeks -- I've got a sore throat going on right now. It's a little bit of everything." continued Julien. "There's nobody sick to the point of missing the game on Sunday -- so don't read into that -- but I'm just being cautious here. Every morning I get up and see the trainers and ask if there are any surprises."

And if everyone is in fact good to go, could that signal changes on both defense and offense?

"We'll see. It's a possibility, and we're going to look at the whole picture tonight with the coaching staff and make a decision."

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