Posted on 8 March 2014 | Comments OffCANADIENS (35-23-7) @ SHARKS (40-17-7) On Saturday night, the Canadiens are in San Jose to take on the Sharks. The Habs are coming off a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night. The home team made the Canadiens pay on the power play, scoring three goals while the Canadiens were down by a man. P.K. Subban’s efforts kept the game close through two periods, as the defenseman set up Andrei Markov’s first-period goal and blasted a shot on a five-on-three powerplay which Alex Galchenyuk tipped home in the second frame. Despite out-shooting the Coyotes 11-1 in the second period, the Habs could not tie the game and saw their chances slip away in the middle of the third when Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan scored two quick goals. Also in action on Thursday, the Sharks defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-3 at home. Brent Burns had two goals and Joe Pavelski notched three assists. Patrick Marleau, Justin Braun and Joe Thornton also scored. Antti Niemi made 19 saves on only 22 shots against, while the Sharks launched 46 shots in the direction of Jeff Zatkoff, the Penguins’ starter. Dramatically out-shooting the opposition is a Sharks trademark, as the team currently leads the league in shots per game with 33.1. In contrast, the Canadiens rank 24th overall with 27.3. The most trigger-happy players in San Jose include Patrick Marleau (229 shots in 64 games), Brent Burns (183 in 51) and Logan Couture (178 in 48). Not surprisingly, these players are all in the top-four in goal scoring on the team. In terms of injuries, the Shark are without Tomas Hertl, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury, and Brad Stuart, who is on IR with an upper-body injury. For the Habs, Carey Price remains on injured reserve with an lower-body injury, while Michael Bournival and Brandon Prust are day-to-day. Josh Gorges has a fractured hand and has flown back to Montreal to visit with specialists. There are currently no timelines for his return. Saturday’s tilt will be the second of two between the teams this season. The Sharks beat the Canadiens 2-0 at the Bell Centre on October 26 2013. The Habs’ last win over San Jose came on December 4 2010, when the team had the upper hand in a 3-1 decision. Puck drop is scheduled at 10PM E.S.T.
Posted on 7 March 2014 | Comments OffMONTREAL – By notching his first win in his first start as a Hab, Dustin Tokarski joined an exclusive club of Bulldogs made good. Recalled to the Canadiens after starter Carey Price suffered a lower-body injury following the Olympic break, the 24 year-old Dustin Tokarski spent a few games watching the action from the bench before being penciled into the line-up against the Anaheim Ducks, the number-one ranked team in the NHL, on March 5 2014. All things considered, the 2009 World Junior Championships gold medalist from Humboldt, SK did pretty well, backstopping the Habs to a surprising 4-3 shootout win. In total, he faced 42 shots, seven from Nick Bonino, six from Kyle Palmieri and three apiece from Ryan Getzlaf and Corry Perry, and made 39 saves for a .929 saves percentage. Tokarski is not the only Bulldog netminder to make an immediate impact on the big club. Indeed, three other young goalies in the past decade have managed to bring their A-games on their Habs debut. Yann Danis (October 12, 2005) Signed by the Canadiens as a free agent out of Brown University, Lafontaine, Quebec’s Yann Danis dazzled in the minors in his first full season as a Hamilton Bulldog, putting up 28 wins and a .924 save percentage, before earning a call-up with the Habs early in the 2005-06 season. Debuting in Atlanta against the Thrashers, Danis made four saves on former 50-goal man Peter Bondra, five saves on Rocket Richard Trophy-winner Ilya Kovalchuk and seven saves on Marian Hossa en route to a 2-0 shutout win. Jaroslav Halak (February 18, 2007) One of the best goaltending prospects to come out of Slovakia, Jaroslav Halak arrived in Hamilton after playing out his final year of junior hockey in the Quebec Major Junior League. Like Danis, Halak posted outstanding numbers for the Bulldogs, saving 93% of all shots faced in two seasons in the AHL. Late in the 2006-07 season, an injury to Canadiens number one goaltender Cristobal Huet forced the 21 year-old into the spotlight in Montreal. In his first NHL game, a 3-2 win, Halak denied sniper Rick Nash on four separate occasions and made 27 other saves against the Columbus Blue Jackets Carey Price (October 10, 2007) While Dustin Tokarski won the AHL’s Calder Cup as a member of the Norfolk Admiral in 2012, Carey Price was the last goaltender to lead the Hamilton Bulldogs to an AHL championship, doing so at just 19 years of age. Like Tokarski, Price was presented with an imposing challenge in his first start for the Canadiens. The Anahim Lake, BC native diffused the high-flying Pittsburgh Penguins offense, stoning Sidney Crosby on all six of his attempts on net before coming prevailing 3-2 against the eventual Stanley Cup finalists. Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
Posted on 7 March 2014 | Comments OffGLENDALE – Developing chemistry doesn’t happen overnight, but the Habs are looking forward to seeing what time and practice can bring for Thomas Vanek, and his new linemates. Arriving in Phoenix just in time for his pre-game nap on Thursday, Vanek barely had a chance to introduce himself to his new dressing room neighbors before suiting up for his first game as a Hab. Hitting the ice for his Canadiens debut just over 24 hours after the paperwork had been processed on the trade that saw him move from Long Island to Montreal, the 30-year-old winger enjoyed slipping into his new digs alongside Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta against the Coyotes. “They’re two great players but it doesn’t happen in one night. Practice will be important tomorrow,” stressed Vanek, who had one shot on goal in his first 15:34 of ice time as a Hab. “Gio found me a couple of times out there. For me it’s just about studying their habits and getting to know their routes so I can contribute with them better.” Transplanted into his new hockey home as the Canadiens’ leading scorer before ever pulling on a Habs jersey, Vanek realizes he was brought in to help the team light the lamp. While he wasn’t able to do that in his debut, he knows that once he and his new linemates find their groove, the goals won’t be hard to come by. “I thought on the 5-on-3 we had a couple of nice passes and chances,” offered the Vienna, Austria native, who has 53 points in 61 games so far in 2013-14. “In time hopefully it will be better. You want to come in and get that first win out of the way but it was good to get the first game out of the way. I was really nervous coming in and it was a long day for me. I just want to rest up, get a good practice in tomorrow and keep finding some chemistry.” Enjoying what he saw from his new right winger on Thursday night, the Habs captain knows the formula for perfect chemistry is one part combining the right ingredients and another part patience. “No matter what, when you have a new guy it always takes some time to find out where he might be and what his tendencies are,” explained Gionta, who had one shot and blocked another in the 5-2 loss. “But for the most part with a guy like that you watch him over the course of his career and he wants to get to the net and he’s great around the front of the net. That’s where we’re going to try to look for him and find him. We had spurts there where we made some good plays and I thought we did a good job getting comfortable with each other.” With a sample size of just 23 shifts to go by, Michel Therrien recognizes that it will take more than one game for his big trade deadline acquisition to get comfortable playing with his third team of the 2013-14 season. In the midst of a tough stretch of seven games in 11 nights including the current four-game road swing out west, the Canadiens don’t have the luxury of practicing until they’re perfect, but the coach is willing to wait it out. “There’s already good chemistry there but they’ll need to work on it still,” admitted Therrien, who confirmed he plans on keeping the trio together for the immediate future. “Vanek is a good player and he got some good chances tonight. With time, I’m sure things will go really well with them. “We started the game like a team that played the night before, travelled and got in late,” he added. “It took us a while to get our legs under us. We got going in the second but we were already in trouble. We were slow getting into it, but we bounced back in the second. We need to find a way to get that energy and get wins to finish this road trip on a high note.” With one game left in San Jose before the team heads home to Montreal, Vanek will have another chance to get his legs under him before he enjoys another big first as a Hab: his Bell Centre debut as one of the good guys. Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Posted on 7 March 2014 | Comments OffPHOENIX -- Here's a numerical look at the Canadiens-Coyotes game at the Jobing.com Arena on Thursday night. 61 – Number of players who have now worn No. 20 with the Canadiens in franchise history, with Thomas Vanek becoming the latest Hab to sport the digits after making his Montreal debut in Phoenix on Thursday night. 5,566 – Number of days since the Canadiens last lost a game to the Coyotes, dating back to a 4-2 loss in the desert on Dec. 9, 1998. 13 – Number of times the Habs have played on back-to-back nights so far in 2013-14, currently owning a 7-3-3 record on the first game in those situations and a 6-7-0 record in the second. 16 – Number of NHL teams against whom Andrei Markov has registered at least 10 points in his career, adding the Coyotes to that list with his first-period goal. 10 – Number of defensemen who have seen action with the Habs this year, with Mike Weaver making his debut on the Canadiens’ blue line with Josh Gorges out with an injured hand. 4 – Number of Habs players who have registered 20 or more assists since the start of campaign, with Brendan Gallagher becoming the latest to hit the benchmark with a helper on Markov’s opening goal. 22 – Number of power play points accumulated by P.K. Subban so far this season, giving him sole possession of third place in the league among all defensemen in that category. 7 – Number of multi-point nights enjoyed by Markov this season, picking up a goal and an assist against the Coyotes to give him 37 points on the year. - canadiens.com
Posted on 6 March 2014 | Comments OffCANADIENS (35-22-7) vs. COYOTES (28-23-11) The Habs will continue their western US roadtrip with a Thursday night stop at the Phoenix Coyotes’ Jobbing.com Arena. On Wednesday night, the Canadiens knocked off the Anaheim Ducks, the NHL’s top team, with a 4-3 shootout win. Dustin Tokarski, recalled from Hamilton after Carey Price went down with injury, made his first start for Montreal and stopped 39 of 42 shots. Brian Gionta, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher scored for the Habs, while Andrei Markov had the deciding goal in the sixth round of the shootout. The typically tight-checking Coyotes are coming off a 1-0 win over Vancouver on Tuesday. Antoine Vermette got the lone goal of the game and Mike Smith made 23 saves for the shutout. The Coyotes boast a very solid top-four featuring blueliners Keith Yandle, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Zbynek Michalek and Derek Morris. Their offense is led by off-season acquisition Mike Ribeiro, volume shooter Radim Vrbata, and two-way pivot Antoine Vermette, the team’s lone 20-goal scorer. For Phoenix, Martin Hanzal is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and may not play on Thursday. Derek Morris, who is recovering from a facial laceration, will probably suit up. Thomas Vanek, acquired on Wednesday from the NY Islanders, is anticipated to play for the first time for the Canadiens. Defenseman Mike Weaver, acquired on Tuesday from the Panthers, could also debut for his new team. Carey Price, Michael Bournival and Brandon Prust made the trip, but are likely to sit out with respective injuries. Josh Gorges, who has a hand injury, will not take part in the game. Thursday night’s match-up will be the second of two this season between both teams. On December 17, the Habs won 3-1 at the Bell Centre thanks to three points from Max Pacioretty. Last time the team visited Arizona, in November 2011, Josh Gorges scored the overtime winner for Montreal. Puck drop is scheduled for 9PM E.S.T.
Posted on 6 March 2014 | Comments OffMONTREAL – Hockey-mad kids from across Quebec flocked to McGill’s McConnell Arena for the second annual Canadiens March Break Camp. Held in the heart of downtown Montreal, minutes away from the Bell Centre, the week-long camp gives a chance for nearly 100 Novice to Peewee-aged players to work on their skills, build their athleticism and learn the value of team work through on-ice and off-ice activities. Stephane Verret, the manager of youth hockey development for the Montreal Canadiens, and his staff started the March Break Camp in 2013 to give busy hockey parents working in the downtown area the option of sending their children to a spring break camp organized in collaboration by the Habs and by Hockey Canada. “We typically hold our summer camps at facilities outside the island of Montreal such as the Bell Complex in Brossard. There was a very strong demand from parents for a Canadiens minor hockey camp in close proximity to the downtown area,” acknowledged Verret. “We were very fortunate to have access to such a great array of facilities in one of the best locations in the city, and the reception for the camp from parents and players has been fantastic.” Not only do the camp’s young attendees take to the ice at McConnell Arena twice a day under the instruction of Hockey Canada coaches, but they also have a chance to experience a variety of cross-training activities when they are off the ice. Held in the neighbouring McGill Sports Complex, the sessions are designed to help camp attendees become better all-around athletes as well as more complete young people. “Jogging through the McGill campus, trying different sports and experiencing a field trip to the Bell Centre is great for the kids because they’re having fun the whole way, but more importantly, it also gives them ideas for the future,” offered Verret. Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
Posted on 6 March 2014 | Comments OffANAHEIM – Dustin Tokarski’s first game as a Hab was a memorable one. Called on to make his first start as a member of the Canadiens on the road against the best team in the NHL, Tokarski served up a dramatic win in the sixth round of a shootout in just his eighth career game. Facing the league’s third-most potent offense, the Humboldt, SK native stopped a career-high 39 shots to help the Habs earn an important two points on Wednesday night. “I had to take it as any other game and just do what I did to get here,” explained Tokarski in understated fashion. “I had to go out there and worry about one thing, stopping the puck. I just had to block everything else out. I think it’s good to have nerves. I had to fight them off and at the end of the first I got a lot of saves in after not many in the first 10 minutes. It felt good going into the second to have some shots.” Looking to keep his rookie netminder’s nerves at bay as long as possible, Michel Therrien waited until the morning skate to let the 24-year-old know he wouldn’t be watching Wednesday’s game in a ball cap on the visiting bench. Throwing his backup-backup goaltender to the wolves with just a few hours to prepare paid off for the head coach, who watched Tokarski collect the second win of his career to help the Habs hold onto their spot as the No. 3 team in the Eastern Conference. “It was his first game as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. We wanted to make sure he had a good night’s sleep so we didn’t tell him he was playing until this morning,” shared Therrien, whose team is now 14-10 in sudden death situations in 2013-14. “He made some key saves at the right time for us. I was pleased to see [David] Desharnais and [Daniel] Briere get us two goals in the shootout to keep us in it, too.” Heading into the shootout with a chance to get the green goaltender his first win as a Hab, Briere admits he and his teammates were motivated by more than just the two points at stake in the standings. “When we got to the shootout all we were thinking about was getting him the win,” described the 16-year NHL veteran, who is now 1-for-2 on shootout attempts this season. “He was great tonight. He made some huge saves to give us a chance to win and at the end we were pushing to get that tying goal for him. It must be an incredible feeling for him and it is for us, too. Getting a big win like that is great for our team.” Despite having over 40 saves to choose from – including four in the shootout – among his first game highlights as a Hab, Tokarski instead focused on what he saw 200 feet away when asked to pinpoint his favorite moment of the night. “Definitely just seeing our guy win it in the shootout. It was a sense of relief there and I cellied pretty hard,” admitted Tokarski of Andrei Markov’s winning marker. “Shootouts are just fun. I’m not really nervous in shootouts. You just have to go out there and battle and do whatever you have to do to stop the puck.” Complementing Tokarski’s clutch shutdown efforts with some timely scoring, the Canadiens outgunned the offense powerhouse in their own building. While he wasn’t expecting to get the call to shoot so early in the sudden-death situation, Markov came up clutch as usual for Montreal with the 18th game-winning goal of his career. “I was a little bit [surprised to be picked to shoot]. I just went there and closed my eyes and shot the puck – like usual,” joked the 35-year-old blue-liner. “[Dustin] played unbelievably. He made great saves to keep us in the game. We knew we were going to play the best team in the league and we knew it would be a challenge and we would have to play our best. We just tried to stick to the game plan and do our job. Hopefully this gives us confidence to keep it up down the home stretch.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Posted on 6 March 2014 | Comments OffANAHEIM -- Here's a numerical look at the Canadiens-Ducks game at the Honda Center on Wednesday night. 2 – Number of Canadiens players who hoisted the Cup as members of the Ducks in 2007, namely George Parros and Travis Moen, who were both in the starting lineup for the Habs on Wednesday night. 26 – Number of players who have played more games for the Canadiens than Tomas Plekanec now that the Czech centerman has joined Shayne Corson at No. 27 on the team’s all-time games played list following his 662nd career start with the Habs. 716 – Number of days since Dustin Tokarski last enjoyed a start between the pipes for an NHL team, dating back to a March 19, 2012 tilt against the Sabres while playing for the Lightning. 825 – Number of players who have suited up for the Canadiens in franchise history, with Tokarski becoming the 78th goaltender to defend the Habs’ net since the team’s inception in 1909. 10:45 – Amount of time needed by the NHL’s top-ranked team to register a shot on goal, then proceeding to fire another seven at Tokarski within the next two minutes of power play action. 26 – Number of players in Canadiens history who have registered at least two 30-plus goal seasons, a list that now includes Max Pacioretty, who scored his 30th of the 2013-14 campaign on Wednesday after previously hitting the benchmark with 33 in 2011-12. 4 – Consecutive number of games in which David Desharnais has picked up at least one assist, amassing five helpers in that span following his pretty feed to Pacioretty in the first period. 6 – Number of hits dished out by Jarred Tinordi on the night to go with two blocked shots against the Ducks. 16 – Number of goals scored by Brendan Gallagher so far in 2013-14 to give him 34 points on the year, setting new career highs in both categories after potting 15 goals in his rookie campaign last season. 24 – Number of times the Habs have needed extra time to determine a winner, now going 14-10 in sudden death games in 2013-14. - canadiens.com
Posted on 6 March 2014 | Comments OffMONTREAL – With all the speculations behind him, Thomas Vanek is now ready to help the Habs win more hockey games. Vanek, one of the most prized commodities at the trade deadline, was snapped up by Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin at the eleventh hour from the New York Islanders. Knowing he was about to be traded for the second time since the start of the season, the sharpshooter was happy to land with the Habs, a team he has faced often over the years. “Knowing the history behind the team, I was very happy to learn the news,” admitted Vanek, who was acquired alongside a conditional fifth round pick in the 2014 draft in exchange for prospect Sebastian Collberg and a conditional second round pick in 2014. “I’ve played in Montreal so often when I was with the Sabres and I’ve always loved coming here. The atmosphere at the Bell Centre is electric.” Currently located in Western Canada, Vanek, set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, will rejoin his new team in Phoenix on Thursday. There, he’ll be reunited with former Buffalo Sabres teammate Daniel Briere. Subject of many rumours and much off-ice gossip in the past months, Vanek is now focused on bringing his best game to help his new team end the season in the best way possible. “To be honest, the past year has been difficult for my family and me,” explains the Austrian, who takes over the title of top scorer in Montreal on the strength of his 21 goals and 53 points this season. “When I started the year in Buffalo, I was just thinking about the Sabres. After I got traded to the Islanders, I was only thinking about them. The more the trade deadline approached, the more I knew there was a chance that I would be moved again. It’s been a heck of a year. I just want to help my new team win as many games as possible.” Having not participated in the post-season since 2010-11, Vanek counts himself fortunate to join the Habs, who are in good playoff position heading down the final stretch. Having been part of a few surprising playoff runs in Buffalo, Vanek is looking forward to once against be a go-to guy for his team in the big moments. “The most important thing is to make the playoffs and right now I have a chance to do so. This is why we play,” mentioned Vanek, who has scored 20 points in 26 career playoff games. “Anything can happen in the playoffs, especially when you have a goalie like Carey Price, who I think is one of the best in the League. I’ve played with Ryan Miller and Carey is just as good.” Hugo Fontaine is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Jack Han
Posted on 5 March 2014 | Comments OffMONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced wednesday the acquisition of left winger Thomas Vanek and a conditional fifth round draft pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft from the New York Islanders, in exchange for Sebastian Collberg and a conditional second round draft pick in 2014. Vanek, 30, has recorded 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists) in 60 games since the beginning of the 2013-14 season, with the Islanders and Buffalo Sabres. He has tallied 16 of his points on the powerplay (6 goals, 10 assists) and added two winning goals. Vanek was assessed 38 penalty minutes and took 187 shots, maintaining a 19:42 ice time per game. The 6’00’’, 217 lbs. left winger has recorded 541 points (271 goals, 270 assists) and 396 penalty minutes in 645 NHL career games with the Sabres and Islanders. He displays a +33 plus/minus differential, with 111 powerplay goals and 43 winning tallies. Vanek added 20 points (15 goals, 5 helpers) in 36 career playoff contests. A native of Baden, near Vienna, Vanek was the Sabres’ first round selection, fifth overall, at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. A product of the WCHA’s University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, he totaled 113 points (57 goals, 56 assists) in the NCAA. Drafted in the second round, 33rd overall by the Canadiens at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Collberg has registered nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 40 games this season with the Frölunda Indians of the Swedish Elite Hockey League.