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Thomas to face off against father in Montreal debut

by Arpon Basu

MONTREAL – Christian Thomas will make his Montreal Canadiens debut on Saturday with a familiar face behind the Tampa Bay Lightning bench.

Steve Thomas, a veteran of 1,235 NHL games, is an assistant coach with the Lightning and will have a great seat to watch his son play his second NHL game.

Christian Thomas made his NHL debut with the New York Rangers at Bell Centre on Feb. 23, 2013, a 3-0 Canadiens victory.

"I've already spoken with my father," Christian Thomas said Friday after Canadiens practice. "I called him [Thursday] when I got called up. He's very excited for me. He wished me the best, and he's hoping that I'll get a shot to play against his team."

Thomas was recalled from Hamilton of the American Hockey League on Thursday, but his spot in the lineup Saturday was not assured until rookie forward Michael Bournival was ruled out with an illness.

The Lightning lineup is a fluid situation.

Goaltender Ben Bishop will start in net for the Lightning. He was forced to leave the Lightning's game Thursday against the Ottawa Senators when he was hit in the head by the skate of teammate Nikita Kucherov.

With backup Anders Lindback out long term, Cedrick Desjardins will be in uniform after being called up from Syracuse late Friday night.

Center Valtteri Filppula was ruled out by coach Jon Cooper on Saturday morning after he too was hurt in Ottawa on Thursday.

Here are the projected lineups for the Lightning and Canadiens:


Ondrej Palat - Tyler Johnson - Martin St. Louis

Alex KillornNikita Kucherov - Teddy Purcell

J.T. Brown - Nate ThompsonTom Pyatt

Ryan MaloneB.J. Crombeen

Victor Hedman - Sami Salo

Matthew Carle - Radko Gudas

Eric Brewer - Mark Barberio

Jean-Philippe Cote

Ben Bishop

Cedrick Desjardins

Scratched: Keith Aulie

Injured: Steven Stamkos (leg), Anders Lindback (lower body), Valtteri Filppula (lower body)


Max PaciorettyDavid DesharnaisBrendan Gallagher

Travis MoenTomas PlekanecBrian Gionta

Rene BourqueLars EllerChristian Thomas

Brandon PrustDaniel BriereGeorge Parros

Josh GorgesP.K. Subban

Andrei MarkovAlexei Emelin

Douglas MurrayNathan Beaulieu

Carey Price

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Francis Bouillon, Raphael Diaz

Injured: Michael Bournival (illness), Alex Galchenyuk (hand), Davis Drewiske (shoulder), Ryan White (upper body)

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