Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Devils

Posted on 26 September 2016 | Comments Off

The Canadiens open their preseason schedule against the visiting New Jersey Devils on Monday night at the Bell Centre. Monday’s game marks the first of five in seven nights for Michel Therrien’s men, who will also play host to the Capitals on Tuesday and the Senators on Thursday, before traveling to Ottawa and Toronto on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Mike Condon and Charlie Lindgren will be in uniform for the Habs, while Mackenzie Blackwood and Scott Wedgewood will share the New Jersey net. On the back end, Jeff Petry and Mark Barberio will lead a defensive corps rounded out by Noah Juulsen, Joel Hanley, Yury Alexandrov and Zach Redmond. Up front, veterans Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher and David Desharnais will notably be in uniform, while Artturi Lehkonen, Nikita Scherbak, Sven Andrighetto and Daniel Carr will also dress. On the other side of the ice, former Oilers forward Taylor Hall will play his first game with his new team. Adam Henrique will also suit up for the contest.

Second time’s a charm

Posted on 25 September 2016 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – Nikita Scherbak is hopeful that his sophomore year in the pros will be far more memorable than his freshman campaign. Plagued by injuries that limited him to just 48 games with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps in 2015-16, the 20-year-old right-winger comes into training camp this time around focused on demonstrating to the Habs’ brass that he’s turned the page on a disappointing season and made important strides in his game over the last 12 months. Two-plus years after being selected 26th overall by the Canadiens in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, a now fully healthy Scherbak is back to the business of fighting for a roster spot along with the likes of fellow young guns Artturi Lehkonen, Michael McCarron and Charles Hudon. “It was tough year. I didn’t get as many games as I wanted to. I didn’t get the game that I wanted, either, so I hope this year is going to be better. I expect more for myself,” said Scherbak, who put up seven goals and 23 points with Sylvain Lefebvre’s contingent last year. “Now, I just have to work hard. Everyone knows what I can do. ” The Russian forward made that abundantly clear back on September 16th at the 2016 Rookie Tournament in London, ON when he scored a highlight-reel goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins’ top prospects that had social media platforms buzzing with excitement. Scherbak lit the lamp again on Sunday afternoon during the Red vs. White intra-squad scrimmage at the Bell Centre, demonstrating a great deal of patience before beating goaltender Charlie Lindgren while the two teams were playing three skaters aside. It goes without saying that head coach Michel Therrien would like to see Scherbak put the puck in the net on a more frequent basis, but showcase a few other key traits along the way, too. “He’s got to be creative. He’s got to make sure that he skates well. That’s one thing. He’s a good skater. He could make plays. He’s got to play to a tempo of the NHL. We’re able to see him more on the ice when it’s 3-on-3 because the kid’s got skill and more room,” said Therrien, who will likely give Scherbak plenty of opportunities to prove his worth as the Canadiens play five preseason contests over the next seven days. “He’s got to fight for his position on the ice. With his speed, we’re expecting good things from him.” Admittedly, the Canadiens’ bench boss believes Scherbak will ultimately come out on the right side of last season’s struggles. Following Sunday afternoon’s tilt, Therrien complemented his extensive work with strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard at the Bell Sports Complex over the last few months, which has yielded good results early on in training camp. “We see a different player this year, so I don’t think [last season] affected his confidence because he wasn’t in a position to get called up due to tons of injuries. He’s gotten a lot stronger. He had a really good summer. He learned a lot of things about being an athlete,” praised Therrien, referencing Scherbak’s decision to remain in Montreal following development camp to hone his game on the South Shore alongside a slew of Canadiens veterans. “If you’re not an athlete, you’re going to have a tough time playing in the NHL. We see a young man getting stronger and stronger.” The question now is whether or not the former WHL standout will be deemed NHL ready when the Canadiens open the regular season in just over two weeks’ time – and, if he is, will a roster spot be available up front from the start? Having seen many of his IceCaps teammates get their respective shots with the CH throughout the 2015-16 season, there’s nothing Scherbak would relish more than being given a shot of his own – even though he took those call-ups in stride, of course. “I was happy for the guys. We are one team. We are one family. Some of my friends like Michael McCarron, I was watching the games at home and obviously you want to get called up, but they deserved to be there,” concluded Scherbak, before going on to stress his preparedness for the challenge ahead. “After the scrimmages and hard practices, I feel more comfortable and more confident for the upcoming games.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for

Race day

Posted on 25 September 2016 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – After months of preparation, the day has finally arrived for Julie Petry and her fellow Extra Mile Allies to put on their running shoes for real. Petry – the wife of Canadiens defenseman, Jeff Petry – and 15 other women will all be pounding the pavement in Sunday’s Oasis Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon in Montreal to raise funds for the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation and the Julie and Jeff Petry Foundation – both of which support underprivileged kids. In this case, the funds allocated to the JPFoundation will go to S.A.Y. Play Center in Detroit, a first-class multipurpose facility that serves the academic, social and physical fitness needs of youngsters in the area. Extra Mile Allies participants committed to raising $1,000 each for charity leading up to the race, and the group has managed to raise over $25,000 to date. Those ladies taking on the 13.1 mile challenge alongside Petry include fellow Canadiens players’ wives Angela Price, Katia Pacioretty, Alyssa Flynn and Stefani Pateryn, spouses and girlfriends of players from several other NHL teams, and Canadiens staffers, too. With the help of Canadiens strength and conditioning coach, Pierre Allard, Petry and her teammates were provided with a training program that began back on June 6th. The program called for runs three times per week – on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays – with the mileage rising incrementally as time went on. Congratulations on all of your hard work, ladies, and have a great run!

A big-time talent

Posted on 24 September 2016 | Comments Off

BROSSARD – Take it from Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher – Artturi Lehkonen has some serious game. Linemates through the first two scrimmages of training camp for Team B, Galchenyuk and Gallagher have both been impressed with the way the Finnish hopeful has gone about his business on the left side. While still very much a newcomer to plying his trade on smaller ice, the 21-year-old prospect already has a few veterans praising what he brings to the table. “He’s a skilled player. He works hard. The thing that impresses me with him being a young guy is his ability and trying to make plays,” said Galchenyuk, who also fully appreciates Lehkonen’s patience with the puck amidst rather chaotic conditions in early scrimmage action. “It’s always sloppy and bouncy because people haven’t skated in so long. There isn’t much room there, but he’s not afraid to slow down the play a bit and to look for me or Gally and be a creative player.” For his part, Gallagher believes the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) standout is blessed with certain intangibles that will ultimately go a long way towards helping him become a successful pro on this side of the pond. “He’s very smart. He understands the game. Hockey sense is something that you can’t really teach. When you get a player with it, you feel like he can be a useful player, whether it’s now or down the road. He’s certainly impressive. He’s a cool guy, easy to play with,” shared Gallagher, who, like Galchenyuk, is convinced that the former second-round selection is a quick study. “He’s always right on the puck. He doesn’t cheat offensively. He’s easy to play with. He seems to understand systems and he’s been picking everything up quick. So far, so good.” While Galchenyuk believes that the Canadiens’ young gun is “definitely close” to being NHL ready right now, Lehkonen is focused on learning as much as he possibly can from playing against his elder counterparts. After all, he’s still adapting to the nuances of suiting up on North American ice. “When you play these scrimmages, you’re facing players who’ve been playing this game for a lot of years now. They’re more experienced. You see the types of decisions they make on the ice and you just try to learn from that,” shared Lehkonen, before going on to reiterate the importance of his playing in the 2016 Rookie Tournament in London, ON last weekend in preparation for main camp at the Bell Sports Complex. “It was really good for me when I got here [to have played in London]. I got the chance to get those three games under my belt.” Growing increasingly comfortable in his new surroundings day after day, Lehkonen is taking the NHL training camp experience in stride with his ultimate goal in sight. “The pressure is always going to be there. I’m here to try to fight for a spot and I want to show what I’m capable of. I feel pretty good so far. It’s been pretty fun,” mentioned Lehkonen with a smile. “I’m hoping, if I have a really good camp, that I can really get a spot in here. That’s my goal for this year, for sure.” And, the Canadiens are giving him every opportunity to prove his worth at the NHL level, knowing full well that if he doesn’t crack the roster in Montreal come October, he could potentially return to Scandinavia to suit up for Frolunda HC for a third straight year. “For us, it isn’t an ideal situation. That’s why we want to put him in a position to see how he reads the play alongside other NHL guys, to see if he’s capable of adapting to the rhythm out there,” said head coach Michel Therrien, clearly a fan of Lehkonen’s skill set, too. “So far, I’m seeing that from him.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for

Big visitors

Posted on 23 September 2016 | Comments Off

Currently on an economic and commercial visit to Canada, Premier Li Keqiang of China accompanied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a visit to the Bell Centre on Friday morning to experience our country’s national sport first-hand. Before the pair arrived on site, 30 local minor hockey players of Chinese descent ranging in age from seven to 15 years old, hit the ice for a clinic led by Canadiens alums Gaston Gingras, Patrice Brisebois, Mathieu Dandenault and Francis Bouillon. The visit actually comes nine months after Gingras, Brisebois, Dandenault and Hall-of-Famer Steve Shutt travelled to Beijing for a 10-day trip designed to spread the love of the game – and a passion for the CH – to youngsters in China’s capital city. After Premier Li and Prime Minister Trudeau were given a tour of the Canadiens dressing room, they participated in a ceremonial puck drop sporting their brand new personalized Habs jerseys. Canadiens ambassador and Hall-of-Famer Yvan Cournoyer was fortunate enough to spend some time with both Li and Trudeau on Friday, and he very much enjoyed his experience. “I met his father, Mr. Trudeau, a long time ago. It was very nice to see him for the first time,” said Cournoyer on his encounter with Prime Minister Trudeau, before detailing his meeting further. “We told them before they went in the room that they couldn’t walk on the CH. [Premier Li] looked at my sweater and said – ‘Can I touch it?’ He touched it. But, the Montreal Canadiens are unbelievable. I have a chance to travel quite a bit and the Montreal Canadiens are well known everywhere in the world. That’s why I’m not surprised that the Chinese came here, especially to the Bell Centre.”

World Cup of Hockey — Czech Republic 4, USA 3

Posted on 23 September 2016 | Comments Off

With both teams already eliminated from contention, Tomas Plekanec's Czech Republic squad defeated Max Pacioretty and the United States 4-3 on Thursday. Despite being held off the score sheet, Plekanec won 58% of his draws and blocked two shots over 19:44 of ice time against the Americans. Pacioretty for his part tested Czech goaltender Petr Mrazek twice, while also dishing out a hit and blocking a shot over 11:45 of ice time. With their tournament now over, Pacioretty and Plekanec will head back to Montreal to join their teammates at Canadiens training camp.

Training Camp – Day 1

Posted on 22 September 2016 | Comments Off

MONTREAL - The Canadiens' training camp kicked off on Thursday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard with medicals and physical testing. Players also took part in on and off-ice video and photo sessions, yielding in-arena, Web site and additional marketing content that will be used throughout the 2016-17 campaign. Players will be divided into Team A and Team B when on-ice workouts begin on Friday morning at 10 a.m. on the South Shore. A scrimmage is currently scheduled for 11 a.m. Conditioning and off-ice training work is also on the schedule for Day 2. There are currently 61 players taking part in camp - six goaltenders, 20 defensemen and 35 forwards - including six players currently taking part in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.

World Cup of Hockey — Russia 3, Finland 0

Posted on 22 September 2016 | Comments Off

Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin extended their stay in Toronto following Russia’s 3-0 win over Finland at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday afternoon. The Habs defensemen were solid on the Russian blue line, with Emelin dishing out three hits and blocking four shots over 17:56 of ice time, and Markov blocking a pair of shots while playing 15:48. The win qualified Russia for Saturday’s semi-final game against Canada.

Phase two

Posted on 21 September 2016 | Comments Off

BROSSARD – Those young guns moving on to the Canadiens’ main training camp are eager for their shot at cracking the roster in Montreal. With the start of camp set for Thursday morning at the Bell Sports Complex, prospects like Michael McCarron and Artturi Lehkonen are looking to continue impressing the Canadiens’ brass in the hopes of being full-time NHLers come mid-October. Having tasted the NHL ranks for 20 games last season, McCarron has a good idea of what will be expected of him in the days that follow in order to be a permanent member of the squad in his second year as a pro. “I’ve just got to bring that energy every day. I’m a big body. If I take a day off, you’re going to notice me on the ice. I’m a big slug when I don’t move my feet,” shared McCarron, who spent his offseason training in London, ON to be a real force for Michel Therrien’s troops. “That’s something I wanted to work on this summer, being more explosive and really working on my foot speed. This year, I’m ready to go and I’m ready to tackle this main camp.” If the 21-year-old Grosse Pointe, MI native does manage to accomplish his goal, he isn’t going to be fussy at all about the position he’ll be asked to occupy up front. While the former OHL standout has a preference for playing down the middle, being on the wing would be just fine, too. “It’s a privilege to play in the NHL. Wherever they see me fitting in the lineup, that’s where I’m going to work my skills at,” said McCarron, who chipped in with one goal, two points and 37 penalty minutes for the Canadiens last season. “I like to take draws and it gets me more involved into the game, but at the same time so does wing. You get in on the forecheck faster and you conserve a bit more energy for the forecheck in the offensive zone. Either way, it’s a positive and I’ll take what they give me.” For his part, Lehkonen is adamant about doing everything in his power to be a member of the big club when the season opens on October 13th in Buffalo. Like McCarron, the dynamic left-winger is coming off a strong performance at the 2016 Rookie Tournament in London, ON and is hoping to keep that momentum rolling into the next phase of the process. “The first thing is I want to make the team. That’s why I’m here. That’s my goal for this year, for sure,” insisted Lehkonen, who is coming off a record-breaking scoring streak during the Swedish Hockey League playoffs that helped to pace Frölunda to the coveted Le Mat Trophy title. “It’s hard to say my odds. This is my first camp, but I know what I’m capable of. I believe in myself, so I’m just going to perform. We’ll see what happens.” Suiting up in Southwestern Ontario afforded the 21-year-old Piikkiö, Finland native a chance to get accustomed to maneuvering on the smaller ice surface, which will ultimately be his battle ground now that he’s made the jump to plying his trade in North America. “The Rookie Tournament in London was good to get under my belt before the training camp starts. The first game was good. It was about getting used to playing on a smaller ice surface. There’s less time and space. But, the game is still the same anywhere. The guys on the team that scores more goals win the game,” mentioned Lehkonen with a smile, knowing full-well that his comfort level on NHL ice will quickly be put to the test in Brossard. “At main camp, it’s going to be more high-tempo and the time and space are going to be even less there. I’ve gotten used to it.” So, what is Lehkonen hoping to demonstrate to team brass early and often in training camp practices and scrimmages alike? “When I’m at my best, I get a lot of shots. I want to score goals. I consider myself as someone who can make a difference in a game when I’m at my best,” concluded Lehkonen, who certainly demonstrated those qualities in London playing on a line alongside McCarron and fellow standout, Nikita Scherbak. “I can really change the emotion of the game, too.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for

61 players to attend the Montreal Canadiens training camp

Posted on 21 September 2016 | Comments Off

PRESS RELEASE MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens announced on Wednesday that 61 players will participate in the 2016-17 training camp. Players will report for physicals and medical exams at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday, September 22. The first on-ice session will take place at the Bell Sports Complex on Friday, September 23, at 10 a.m. The list of players invited to training camp includes six goaltenders, 20 defensemen and 35 forwards (including six players currently taking part in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto). Rookie Camp The Canadiens completed their rookie camp today. Sixteen (16) of the 27 players attending have been invited to the main camp. Practices open to the public Canadiens fans are invited to attend all practices at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. Intra-squad games will take place on September 23 and 24, at 11 a.m. (webcast on and A detailed schedule will be available at the Bell Sports Complex. Team Red vs Team White at Bell Centre In preparation for the team’s preseason schedule, the Canadiens and Canadian Tire are pleased to invite all fans to attend the Canadian Tire Reds vs Whites scrimmage on Sunday, September 25 at the Bell Centre. Puck drop is set for 1 p.m. with the Bell Centre doors to open at 11:30 a.m. The game will also be available on and Training Camp Schedule (Sept. 22-25) Thursday, September 22: 1 p.m. Photo opportunity / No media availability with players/coach Friday, September 23: 10 a.m. Practice (Group A) 11 a.m. Game A vs B 12:15 p.m. Practice (Group B) Saturday, September 24: 10 a.m. Practice (Group B) 11 a.m. Game A vs B 12:15 p.m. Practice (Group A) Sunday, September 25: 1 p.m. Game Reds vs Whites (Bell Centre)

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