BROSSARD - In Sunday's practice notebook, the Canadiens perfect certain aspects of their play before flying to Detroit, Andrew Shaw reflects on his first game back, and Jacob De La Rose is called up.
Working on a Sunday: Before making their way to Detroit on Sunday evening for Monday afternoon's tilt against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, head coach Michel Therrien convened his troops for a high-octane practice session at the Bell Sports Complex.
Given the Canadiens' jam-packed schedule as of late, formal practices are few and far between these days, so Therrien and the rest of the coaching staff weren't about to pass up a perfect opportunity to fine-tune a few things ahead of their departure for Michigan.
"We have stuff that we need to work on, and quite honestly we don't have much time to work on different things, especially with a game on Monday at 3 p.m. We have to make some adjustments and work with our schedule," said Therrien, before expanding upon some of the aspects of his team's play that he believes need improvement.
"Our checking game, our penalty killing and our defensive zone coverage," added the Canadiens' bench boss, who celebrated his 800th career game as a head coach in the NHL ranks with a 5-4 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday night. "We play an aggressive game offensively, but in the meantime, we've got to play an aggressive game defending as well."
Phillip Danault certainly didn't mind hitting the ice on Sunday. He's all for doing everything possible to keep building upon the success of the group so far this season.
"Rest is important, but the system is just as important. We don't have a lot of chances to practice these days and we have certain things that we have to improve upon," shared Danault, who has 10 points - three goals and seven assists - in his last nine games. "Even if we played last night, the guys were really intense on the ice today. We all want to improve as a team. It's fun to see everyone push in the same direction."
Video: Phillip Danault on the need for intense practices
Looking back on it: Following practice, Andrew Shaw shared his thoughts on his hit on Rangers forward Jesper Fast that resulted in his ejection from Saturday night's tilt with just over three minutes remaining in the first period.
It certainly wasn't the return to active duty Shaw had hoped for after being sidelined for 14 straight games with concussion-like symptoms. By the time he was sent to the Canadiens' locker room, he'd amassed 22 total penalty minutes on the night - including a five-minute penalty for interference, a five-minute fighting major, and a 10-minute game misconduct, all on the Fast play alone - while logging just 5:19 of ice time.
Video: Andrew Shaw on his hit and game misconduct
"It was shoulder to shoulder, maybe half-a-second late. You can look at it in slowmo all you want. In real time, it's quick decisions out there and I was just trying to get back to myself, playing physical and playing hard," shared Shaw, who hadn't seen live game action since December 12. "I'm glad he came back. I'm glad he finished the game. Plays like that, they happen. But, I know I didn't hit him in the head. I made sure it was shoulder to shoulder."
Admittedly, Shaw was disappointed with the way things ultimately played out in front of the Bell Centre faithful. He'd been anticipating his return from the time he went down and he was hoping to get back to contributing right away.
"I'm not out there to hurt anyone. I'm just out there to earn my ice time and compete and work hard. We're all out there doing the same thing," added Shaw, who confirmed that he hadn't received a call from the NHL's player safety chief Stephane Quintal regarding the incident. "Obviously, I would have wanted to play a full game. It didn't happen."
A new addition: The Canadiens recalled forward Jacob De La Rose from the AHL's St. John's IceCaps on Sunday and confirmed that he would be accompanying the team to Detroit.
De La Rose, who played 22 games with the big club last season, has amassed three goals and 15 points in 34 games with Sylvain Lefebvre's squad so far this year.
Therrien indicated that the 21-year-old Swede might suit up against the Red Wings and make his regular-season debut with the Canadiens. If De La Rose is called upon, though, Therrien says the former second-round selection will have to be particularly sharp in several key aspects of his game.
"He's here to fill a very precise role. He has to be solid defensively, a guy who is capable of killing penalties. That's one of the reasons why we called him up. He's capable of killing penalties because he's a big guy, he has a good reach, he can break up plays, and he plays well defensively," mentioned Therrien. "It's an aspect of our game that we have to improve because we're giving up more shots than I'd like us to."
Video: Michel Therrien on Jacob De La Rose
Chris Terry, meanwhile, was assigned to St. John's after being a healthy scratch on Saturday night.