Posted on 12 October 2015 | Comments OffPITTSBURGH – In a league where teams are essentially even and parity is king, being able to count on a solid fourth line is a luxury. Fortunately, it’s a luxury that Michel Therrien is enjoying right now given the results the line of Devante Smith-Pelly, Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn has produced early on this season. Their success as a unit of three has even forced their bench boss’ hand. He admits that although he would have liked to give newcomer Paul Byron the opportunity to make his Canadiens debut against the Senators on home turf in Ottawa, he couldn’t afford to take Smith-Pelly, Mitchell or Flynn out of the lineup given how effective they’ve been together. Therrien clearly made the right choice, as the Canadiens’ fourth line gave the Senators fits all game long on Sunday night. They even chipped in on offense, starting a sequence that let to Mitchell lighting the lamp with the insurance marker. The line also combined to generate nine of the Canadiens’ 34 shots on rookie goaltender Matthew O’Connor. “They’re a big part of the success we’re having right now. Not only did they score, but they also went up against the top lines,” explained Therrien, referencing just how efficient his energy line has been through three games this season. “It’s a huge advantage for any team to have guys capable of playing against top players. They also spend a lot of time in the offensive zone. It’s a big part of our depth up front.” That being said, fourth-line players league-wide – as critical as they are – often find themselves in the uncomfortable position of being uncertain about their playing status on any given night. “As a fourth line player, you have to work hard, be solid, and be responsible every game. There’s always someone there waiting to take your place,” explained Mitchell, who scored his first career regular season goal in a Canadiens uniform on Sunday night. “It’s our line that will the one that changes if things aren’t going well during the year. We can’t allow ourselves to take a night off. I think we’ve done good work so far in the three games we’ve played.” Like Mitchell, Flynn has a similar philosophy when it comes to the mentality fourth-line players need in order to succeed in their respective roles. “Regardless if there’s someone pushing behind you or not, you have to perform and play well every game. If you don’t do the work, they could call on somebody else,” offered Flynn, who registered six shots of his own on Sunday night, the most of any single player on either team. “It’s not a problem. No matter who is left aside, we have players capable of doing what needs to be done.” For now, the players delivering the goods just happen to be them. Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.
Posted on 12 October 2015 | Comments OffOTTAWA – Mike Condon’s NHL career got off to a strong start on Sunday night. In his first-ever regular season outing between the pipes, the 25-year-old made 20 saves en route to leading the Canadiens to a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre, which also just happened to be their third straight victory. Condon, who earned the backup job in Montreal out of training camp, couldn’t have been happier with the way things played out in his NHL debut, which, interestingly enough, pitted him against fellow NHL newcomer, Matthew O’Connor, who was also plying his trade in the big leagues for the very first time. “It was exciting. I thought the guys played an awesome game. I think we only had 12 shots against going into the third period, and only maybe five or six scoring chances against [by that time]. My workload was very light,” offered Condon, who conceded the lone Senators’ goal – a short-handed marker – to forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau during the second frame on Sunday night. “I had a lot of energy going into the game. After that first shot comes in, though, all the interior monologue just quiets down and your training takes over. After the first shot, I was having some fun.” That certainly was evident to defenseman P.K. Subban, who was impressed by the way Condon went about his business in a game in which the Canadiens dominated head coach Dave Cameron’s contingent by a 34-21 margin in the all-important shot department. “What surprised me was his composure. He was just very, very composed in there. He wasn’t scrambling. He just was set. He trusted his structure as a goaltender. He wasn’t swimming out there. When he had to get out of his structure to make a big save, he did it,” praised Subban, who picked up his fourth assist of the season in the win. “They’ve got some pretty sharp players over there. It’s a good thing he was sharp.” The Norris Trophy winning rearguard, who logged a team-leading 24:19 of ice time in front of Condon, says the team, as a whole, had total confidence in the Needham, MA native’s abilities, especially after seeing him turn in strong showings in the preseason in recent weeks. With those performances in mind, Therrien’s troops knew they didn’t have to alter their game plan in any way, shape or form with a far-less-experienced netminder in goal than Carey Price. “A lot of times when the backup goes in there, you see a sense of changing things up. But, we didn’t change anything. I felt that guys felt confident with him in there. He established early that he was ready,” explained Subban, whose squad benefitted from Tomas Plekanec lighting the lamp twice in the first period which got the Canadiens off to the start they needed. “Listen, I’ve got to give him credit. He came in there and he did exactly what he had to do. We get that from Carey every night. What Carey brings, we got that from him.” The Canadiens’ bench boss shared similar thoughts after watching Condon deliver the type of effort he’ll be called upon to bring every time he gets the nod – as infrequently as that might be with the reigning Vezina Trophy, Hart Trophy, William M. Jennings Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award winner always at the top of his game. “He made key saves at the right times. That’s a direct result of all the work he put in at training camp. Picking up that first win is something special,” offered Therrien, who will see his club wrap up its current three-game road swing on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. “He’s a guy who deserves to be in the NHL. You need a backup who can deliver solid performances. That’s what he did. He’s calm, but he’s a fighter. You could see that at the end of the game [when the Senators were threatening].” That type of talent – and a willingness to embrace the inevitable pressure that comes with occupying the backup role in Montreal – is what will undoubtedly enable Condon to collect even more wins down the road. “The more shots you get, the more comfortable you are in goal. There could also be more scoring chances too, so you’ve just got to take what comes to you,” concluded Condon, a Princeton University grad. “I was very fortunate for the guys’ effort against the Sens.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
Posted on 12 October 2015 | Comments OffOTTAWA – Here's a numerical look at Sunday night's game between the Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. 3 – Number of goaltenders who’ve made their NHL debuts so far this season, including both starters on Sunday night as the Canadiens’ Mike Condon and the Senators’ Matthew O’Connor stood between the pipes for their respective teams. Jean-François Bérubé also made his NHL debut for the Islanders. 1967 – The last time two opposing goaltenders made their NHL debuts in the same game, as Los Angeles’ Wayne Rutledge and Philadelphia’s Doug Favell went head-to-head at Long Beach Arena on October 14, 1967 with the Kings earning a 4-2 victory. Condon and O’Connor repeated the feat almost 48 years later to the day, tending goal at the Canadian Tire Centre in the Senators’ home-opener. (Elias Sports Bureau) 100 – Save percentage Mike Condon amassed during the 2015-16 preseason campaign, as the Massachusetts native didn’t let a single puck past him during 93 minutes of playing time. 3:10 – Time elapsed in the opening frame before Mike Condon made the first save of his NHL career as the Needham, MA native turned aside a backhand shot attempt from Senators forward Mark Stone. 41 – Number of points Tomas Plekanec has amassed against the Senators over the course of his NHL career, adding to that tally by lighting the lamp twice during the first period on Sunday night. Ottawa is the team against which Plekanec has put up the second-most points since debuting in the NHL ranks in 2003-04, with Boston representing his most frequent victim (42 points). 23 – Number of multi-goal games Tomas Plekanec has managed to string together over the course of his NHL career, scoring the Canadiens’ first two goals of the game on Sunday night in Ottawa. The 32-year-old centerman made things tough on Senators rookie netminder Matthew O’Connor early on, scoring from an awkward angle before beating the Boston University product five-hole on a breakaway. 14 – Total number of shots it took Habs forward Torrey Mitchell to score his first regular-season goal as a member of his hometown team dating back to his arrival in Montreal last year. Mitchell gave the Canadiens a 3-1 lead on Sunday night, tipping a P.K. Subban shot home during the third period. 10 – Number of Canadiens players who generated at least two shots on goal on Sunday night against the Senators. Brian Flynn led the way for the Habs in that department with six shots of his own. 12 - Number of times since the Montreal Canadiens were founded in 1909 that the team has started the season by registering three straight wins. Michel Therrien's troops accomplished the feat for a second straight season by posting wins over the Maple Leafs, Bruins and Senators. - canadiens.com
Posted on 11 October 2015 | Comments OffMONTREAL (2-0-0) @ OTTAWA (2-0-0) TV : RDS and Rogers Sportsnet, 7 p.m. The Canadiens will play their second game in 24 hours on Sunday night when they take on the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. It will be the second game of the Habs’ current three-game road trip. Michel Therrien’s troops played in Boston on Saturday night, and they’ll wrap up the road swing on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. The Habs are coming off a convincing 4-2 win against the rival Bruins. The line of Alex Galchenyuk (3 assists), Alexander Semin (2 assists) and Lars Eller (2 goals) led the charge, factoring in on three of the squad’s four goals. Tomas Plekanec also reached another important milestone on Saturday night by picking up his 500th career point. He tallied an empty-netter with 54 seconds remaining in regulation time to cap the scoring. Carey Price made 19 saves over the course of a tilt that also featured the two teams combining to amass 53 penalty minutes. The CH will be featuring the same lineup in Ottawa that bested the Bruins. For their part, the Senators were also in action on Saturday night battling the Maple Leafs in Toronto. The contest produced the first shootout of the 2015-16 campaign. Ottawa ended up coming out on top on a shootout goal by Mike Hoffman. Goaltender Craig Anderson made 37 saves to earn the win, while defenseman Erik Karlsson picked up three assists. Mike Condon will get the start in goal for the Canadiens. It will mark the 25-year-old’s first NHL start after spending last season with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Condon saw 93 minutes of game action during the preseason, blanking the opposition with 38 total saves. Given that the Senators will also be playing their second game in as many nights, head coach Dave Cameron opted to start 23-year-old Boston University product Matthew O’Connor between the pipes. He is currently serving as Anderson’s backup while Andrew Hammond is out with a groin injury. Sunday night’s contest will mark the first of four meetings between the two teams this season, and the first since April 26, 2015 when Therrien’s contingent sent the Senators packing for summer in Game 6 of an opening-round playoff series. Montreal and Ottawa also met in the preseason with the Senators winning both games.
Posted on 11 October 2015 | Comments OffBOSTON – BOSTON – Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Alexander Semin have chemistry. It’s as simple as that. Picking up right where they left off in the preseason, the trio combined for seven points against the Boston Bruins on Saturday night at TD Garden, pacing the Canadiens to a 4-2 victory and their second straight win over an Atlantic Division rival. It was also the sixth straight time the CH had bested Claude Julien’s contingent dating back to March 2014. Eller scored twice, Galchenyuk picked up three helpers, and Semin registered his first two points in a Habs uniform since signing in July. To say that things are clicking for Nos. 81, 27 and 13 as a unit of three would be a serious understatement. Michel Therrien has a particularly special offensive forward line in the fold that has the potential to do some serious damage to the opposition going forward. “Preseason is always just a warm-up for the regular season. We were feeling it out in preseason, but these are different types of games. But, at the end of the day, we knew that it didn’t matter what type of game we’re playing. We have a lot of skill on our line and it was just a matter of time until we figured things out and started using it. Today, we did pretty well,” offered Galchenyuk, who registered the 18th multi-point game of his young career on Saturday night, assisting on the Canadiens’ first three goals of the game. “We had a good shift at the end of the first, and after that we talked to each other on the bench. We said – “Let’s build from it. Let’s keep playing this way, play tougher and force the other team to keep up with us.” We did that and ended up scoring two goals.” It’s no secret to Eller, Galchenyuk or Semin why they’ve managed to generate offense ever since the Canadiens’ bench boss elected to pair them together in training camp. “We have skilled wingers with Semin on the right side and Larry on the left side. When they have that extra space for a second, they can make that easy play. We showcased that. We move our feet, create space for each other and we’re really effective that way,” shared Galchenyuk, who now boasts one goal and four points through two games this season. “The difference was that we started competing a little bit more, we were winning those battles down low and we were moving our feet more. On top of that, we started using our skill which paid off in a positive way for us.” It certainly did. That was on full display as the Bruins’ forwards and defensemen alike appeared to be one step behind every move the line would make inside the offensive zone for the better part of Saturday night’s contest in Beantown. “I was pretty confident that it was going to come at some point. We were scoring a lot before. We might not score every game, but we did a lot of good things and we got rewarded. That was nice,” offered Eller, who registered the fifth multi-goal game of his career, notching the game-winning tally at the 7:47 mark of the second period that gave the Canadiens a 3-0 lead. “We played a little bit better than we did in Toronto. We were pretty effective when we had our chances. I think we could’ve even had a few more, so it was a good step in the right direction for the whole team I think.” Needless to say, the Canadiens’ bench boss was pleased to see his troops rewarded for their efforts after enjoying a successful preseason campaign. “They had a really good game. They moved the puck well, they were creative offensively and responsible without the puck. They offered up an excellent performance,” praised Therrien, whose squad is in the midst of a tough road trip that continues on Sunday night in Ottawa against the Senators, before wrapping up in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. “You always have a vision [when it comes to building a line]. We wanted to establish some level of equilibrium when it came to our forward lines, and that’s what they help to bring.” Can they keep it up? Eller thinks they can, especially if they find a way to bring the same type of effort that earned them chance after chance after chance in just their second regular season outing as a line. “Obviously, they’re very, very skilled. They hold on to that puck for a second longer to be able to make the play and draw the guys to them. That’s one of their strongest assets. We saw that on some of the goals,” concluded Eller, who has clearly made a seamless transition to the wing, and is enjoying playing alongside his new linemates. “Even the first goal, Chucky, he makes a pass and he drives to the net and draws some guys on him and opens it up for somebody else. That’s what we need to keep doing. It doesn’t matter who it is. As long as we work together like that, it’s going to be good.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com. is a writer for canadiens.com
Posted on 11 October 2015 | Comments OffBOSTON – Here's a numerical look at Saturday night's game between the Canadiens and the Boston Bruins. 16 – Number of times this season that the Canadiens will play back-to-back game series beginning with Saturday night’s tilt against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Michel Therrien’s troops will get right back at it on Sunday night in Ottawa against the Senators. 83 – Number of days remaining before the Winter Classic takes place at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA on January 1, 2016 featuring the Canadiens and the Bruins. The two teams sported the official Winter Classic tuques during the pre-game warmup on Saturday night. 6 – Number of seconds that David Desharnais needed to make the Bruins pay for getting into penalty trouble early in the first period. Desharnais found the back of the net just as Boston’s Matt Beleskey was making himself comfortable in the box. 0 – Numbers of draws Tomas Plekanec lost during the opening period on Saturday night in Boston, winning all nine faceoffs he took against Bruins centermen through 20 minutes of play. 23 – Number of points Alexander Semin registered against the Canadiens over the course of his NHL career, before picking up his first point in a Habs uniform on Saturday night – an assist on Lars Eller’s first goal of the season early in the second period. Semin assisted on Eller’s second goal of the night, too. 18 – Number of multi-point games Alex Galchenyuk has strung together during his young NHL career, adding to that tally by picking up three assists against the Bruins on Saturday night in Boston. 7 – Number of points the line of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Alexander Semin combined to generate on Saturday night, torching the Bruins’ defenders all night long. 5 – Number of times over the course of his career that Alex Galchenyuk has produced a three-point effort, accomplishing that feat once again on Saturday night by picking up helpers on the Canadiens’ first three goals of the game. 5 – Number of times over the course of his career that Lars Eller has scored at least two goals in a single game. He previously did it against the Bruins on March 8, 2011, before doing it once again on Saturday night. - canadiens.com
Posted on 10 October 2015 | Comments OffCANADIENS (1-0-0) @ BRUINS (0-1-0) TV : TVA SPORTS, SPORTSNET, 7 p.m. The Canadiens will begin a series of three games in four nights away from the friendly confines of the Bell Centre on Saturday night in Boston. Michel Therrien’s troops won their first game of the year on Wednesday night when they downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Max Pacioretty scored twice, P.K. Subban collected three assists, Carey Price made 36 stops and Alex Galchenyuk scored the game-winner in the third period. For their part, the Bruins suffered a 6-2 loss at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night in Boston. David Pastrnak and David Krejci were the lone Bruins to light the lamp. Zdeno Chara was not in the lineup for Boston due to an upper-body injury. His status for Saturday night’s game remains uncertain, but he's likely not playing, considering the fact that he did some extra skating post morning skate. Therrien should be featuring the same lineup that downed Mike Babcock’s squad earlier in the week. That means that Paul Byron, Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn will likely be healthy scratches for a second straight game. Carey Price will get the start in goal and square off against Tuukka Rask. The Canadiens won all four of their games against the Bruins last season, outscoring their Original Six rivals by a 16-6 margin along the way.
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Posted on 9 October 2015 | Comments OffReady to launch BROSSARD - Two new faces will make their Canadiens debuts on the team’s upcoming road trip, beginning with Saturday night’s game in Boston before making stops in Ottawa and Pittsburgh. Following practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard Friday morning, coach Michel Therrien confirmed that both Mike Condon and Paul Byron will make their way into the lineup in the near future. A training camp standout, Condon’s strong play compelled the Canadiens front office to offer him a coveted roster spot and the opportunity to start the season in the big leagues. After practice, coach Therrien confessed what he told Condon when he first called to inform the rookie that he had made the team. “When it was announced that he was staying with us, it was probably the first thing he was told,” admitted Therrien, who was impressed with Condon’s mental toughness throughout training camp and preseason action. “’You start Sunday,’ was the first sentence I said when I called him and he was very happy.” In his first full season in the AHL, the 25-year-old Needham, MA native backstopped the Hamilton Bulldogs to 23 victories while posting career highs in wins, games played and shutouts. “We want to see a continuation of what he has shown in the past - be it last year in the AHL where he had performed very well or in training camp. Our goaltenders will have to give us a chance to win every game,” offered Therrien, who played three years as a defenseman in the American Hockey League. “We just want to make sure that he's still progressing. He had a really good year last year in the AHL and a really good camp. We just want to make sure that gives us a chance to win.” The former Princeton University goaltender was reminiscent of a young Carey Price, as he was unflappable both on and off the ice in his first NHL training camp and preseason action. In fact, Condon was so reliable for the Bulldogs last season that he wasn’t pulled from a single game all season. Heading into his first career start, the Needham, NA native is relying on his mental fortitude to focus on the task at hand. “I’m excited. It’s going to be fun. Not going to think too much about it, just going to go out there and play, exclaimed the rookie goaltender, who for his part doesn’t mind starting his first NHL game on the road. “The road doesn’t really matter. It’s all the same to me. Just want to focus on the game tomorrow and prepare for that” Condon was clearly told when and where he would make his debut, in contrast to Paul Byron who will have to play the waiting game. Claimed off waivers on October 6, Byron suited up for a career high 57 games with the Calgary Flames in 2014-2015. The 26-year-old picked up a new career high in shots on goal, culminating in six goals and 13 assists for a total of 19 points. The newest member of the Canadiens brings versatility, speed and depth to the lineup. “I’m just an all-around versatile player. I bring a lot of speed, energy and I’m good on the forcheck. I can play with skill, I can play on the penalty kill, I’m just a guy that can play up and down the lineup, maintained Byron, a character player who has the flexibility to play on all four forward lines. “I’d be playing on the fourth line sometimes and then next shift I’d be on the second line or third line, it depends on the game and depends on who is going that night. That’s the kind of niche I created for myself.” A former post-season standout in the QMJHL with the Gatineau Olympiques, Byron is excited to play close to his hometown in Ottawa, Ontario. “You know it’s so close to home and it is such a storied franchise, to be a Montreal Canadien is a dream come true for a Canadian boy. I’m excited to be here and so is my family,” declared the fifth year NHL veteran, who scored 54 points in 34 playoff games in his junior career with the Olympiques. “Transitioning here has been pretty easy for me. The coaches communicate very well with me and try to help me out. There’s a great group of guys around the room here. So I am fitting in pretty well and it shouldn’t take too long.” Whenever Byron does make his much anticipated Canadiens debut, he’ll be sure to have a new Habs jersey waiting for his father back home. “My dad had mixed emotions because he grew up a Bruins fan, unfortunately for him. But I think he is going to wear the Montreal sweater this year to support me. We are just going to have to turn him over,” said Byron, with a smile.
Posted on 8 October 2015 | Comments OffTORONTO – Underestimating Max Pacioretty any time of year would be a serious mistake, but he’s developing a reputation for being particularly clutch on opening night. For the second straight season, the newly minted Canadiens captain scored the first goal of the year league-wide – before adding an empty-netter late in the third period – to lead Michel Therrien’s troops to a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Not only did Wednesday night’s tilt mark the 400th game of Pacioretty’s NHL career, but it also marked his first regular season contest sporting the coveted “C” on his jersey which made the victory even more memorable. “It’s exciting because our team showed flashes of what we’re capable of doing. We didn’t put together 60 minutes, but it’s definitely inspiring knowing that we’re able to play a certain way. I think when we’re on our game, we’re a very tough team to play against,” offered Pacioretty, whose squad was outshot by a 37-30 margin, but managed to come away with two points as Alex Galchenyuk scored the go-ahead goal with just under eight minutes remaining in regulation time. “There were small details of what we liked, and then there were times when we got away from it. That’s when we ran into trouble. It’s something to build off of. There were definitely flashes of positives. We know we have more in this room, and it’s inspiring.” “Inspiring” might just be the best way to describe the way Pacioretty went about his business in the Canadiens’ season-opener. An offensive threat all game long, the 26-year-old winger generated five shots on goal while logging 18:07 of ice time after spending the bulk of the summer rehabbing from left tibia plateau fractures he sustained in early July while training in Florida. He also had just two preseason games under his belt before hitting the ice at the ACC. “I had a lot to prove. Some people told me they didn’t think I’d be ready or people maybe doubted it. But, I wanted to come out and play a strong game. I think that our line did that,” praised Pacioretty, who lined up alongside Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher on Wednesday night. “I think we were pretty lethal. We had a lot of opportunities to score, but we were pretty sound defensively, too. That’s what I liked most about our game.” More importantly, Pacioretty says his recent injury didn’t have any effect on his game at all. In short, he felt perfectly comfortable plying his trade in the Canadiens’ first meaningful contest since May 12 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. “I didn’t feel tentative. I think I was pretty good. I know that I’ve gotten the support from the trainers and the doctors to get the green light. That’s fresh in my mind. An Injury off the ice, sometimes you won’t be as tentative as if it happened in a game, so I felt good. I was surprised with how good I felt. But, I know there’s still a long way to go,” admitted Pacioretty, who became just the fourth captain in franchise history to light the lamp in their first game in that role, joining the likes of Toe Blake, Yvan Cournoyer and Vincent Damphousse. “It’s definitely a good feeling, but I know my game wasn’t perfect. I know I have a lot to improve on. In the gym – and in the game, a couple of times there – I haven’t been as strong as I would have liked to be. That’s something that’s going to be a process as the season goes on, but I’m willing to put in the work to be 100 percent.” That positive outlook shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially from a player like Pacioretty who has defied medical odds time and again while battling a host of injuries over the years. It’s what has allowed him not only to return to active duty earlier than expected, but also to be a veritable force at both ends of the rink. “I love playing here. First game of the year, it’s a great place to play. It’s a great rivalry. This is one of my favourite places to play because you’re always in for a tight game. The crowd is into it and it’s a lot of fun,” offered Pacioretty, who has been the Canadiens’ leading point-getter the last four years running. “I was a bit lucky both times [with my goals]. It’s nice, but it’s just one game. Now, it’s time to put it behind us and get better day by day. That’s our team’s goal – improve every day. That’s my personal goal, too.” Well said, Max. Well said. Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com