Game Preview: Canadiens @ Blackhawks

Posted on 1 October 2014 | Comments Off

PRESEASON : CANADIENS (3-1-0) @ BLACKHAWKS (2-2-0) The Habs visit the Blackhawks on Wednesday as the final stretch of the preseason schedule gets underway in Chicago. Montreal will play its three remaining exhibition games in the next four days, during which the Canadiens 2014-15 roster will be determined. Head coach Michel Therrien has already hinted that Wednesday’s Original Six matchup could be a final test for certain Habs hopefuls aspiring to crack the opening day lineup. The Habs’ bench boss also confirmed earlier this week that Carey Price will get the start in goal in Chicago, in addition to at least one more of the Habs’ final two preseason contests. Jacob De La Rose, Sven Andrighetto, Jarred Tinordi, Jiri Sekac, Nathan Beaulieu, Gabriel Dumont, Christian Thomas, and Greg Pateryn, meanwhile, will be among the hopefuls in uniform for the Canadiens on Wednesday, while veterans Dale Weise, Lars Eller, Rene Bourque and Alexei Emelin will round out the Habs lineup. On the opposite end of the ice, goaltender Antti Raanta will get his first full preseason start for Chicago. Coming off a 5-0 win over the Oilers on Sunday, the Blackhawks will dress a number of veterans against the Habs, including Marian Hossa and Brad Richards. On defense, rookie Trevor Van Riemsdyk – brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward James Van Riemsdyk – will be a player to watch, as the young ‘Hawks defenseman has done well to avoid each round of cuts so far at camp. Last year, Montreal and Chicago split their season series one game apiece. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m. EST.

Tough calls coming

Posted on 30 September 2014 | Comments Off

BROSSARD – With just three games remaining on the Canadiens’ preseason schedule, Michel Therrien is facing some hard choices in the not so distant future. On Tuesday, the veteran bench boss put the 34 players remaining at training camp through a fast-paced workout at the Bell Sports Complex, as he continued to evaluate a host of candidates battling for coveted full-time spots at several key positions up front and on the back end, and particularly in goal. In his post-practice press conference, Therrien didn’t mince words about just how trying an experience it can be to cut a roster down to size, especially when the players themselves are meeting expectations and doing everything that’s been asked of them and more. Nevertheless, it’s a part of the job he’s always taken in stride. “What’s difficult is that we’re satisfied with the way a lot of our youngsters have performed, and we’re satisfied with the way our three goaltenders have played as well. We’ve seen the progression in our young players at every position,” offered Therrien, who confirmed that many of those young guns would suit up against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night in the Windy City, while also indicating that Carey Price would get the start in goal for a second straight game. “We’ll let training camp continue. There will be some really tough decisions to make. That’s a good sign. It often happens that you don’t have the luxury of making those types of decisions. I look at it as a positive. We have depth. Our youngsters are developing well. It’s a lot tougher this year than in previous years.” Case in point is the aforementioned situation between the pipes. Dustin Tokarski stormed onto the Montreal hockey scene last May with one remarkable performance after another in relief of an injured Price during the Eastern Conference Finals, while Peter Budaj watched from the bench. Now, Therrien & Co. will eventually have to decide which of the two will assume the back-up role in 2014-15. “The way the guys perform is the top criteria. [Goaltending coach] Stephane Waite has done extraordinary work with his goaltenders. They’re well-prepared, and they’ve delivered. I’m talking and kind of skating around the issue as much as possible right now, though, because I don’t have much to say,” stressed Therrien, who praised Tokarski’s most recent outing against the Colorado Avalanche in Quebec City, before confirming that Budaj would also get a shot at playing a complete game before the preseason comes to a close. “There are a lot of things to take into consideration when it comes to this type of decision. I don’t want to elaborate on it too much, though.” If Therrien is feeling the inevitable pressure that accompanies making critical decisions like that one, Budaj isn’t placing any added weight on his shoulders while fighting to secure a job he’s held since the 2011-12 campaign. “I don’t think there’s any pressure. I still have to go out there. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. Everybody knows me. I go out and work and give it my best shot. I just keep moving. I’ll try to let my actions show everybody that I’m a good goalie. There’s no need to worry about that. I’m just going to play hard and work hard. That’s it,” offered Budaj, who posted a 10-8-3 record in 24 games with the Canadiens in 2013-14, while registering a 2.51 goals-against average along the way. “I’m not thinking about the situation whatsoever. I’m just going to go out there and try to stop the puck,” added the nine-year NHL veteran, who picked up the win in his lone preseason outing back on Sept. 25, turning aside all 17 shots he faced in 31 minutes of playing time in a 3-2 overtime victory over Colorado. “We have the easier job out there. We don’t have to worry about systems or anything like the coaches. We just have to go out there and help the team win games. That’s it.” Intent on letting his play do the talking for him, the 32-year-old is adamant he’s in a good place with a decision on his immediate future set to be made in the coming days. “You work hard to perform every single day. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. I’m not thinking about it, though. I’m coming to the rink in a good mood every day,” concluded Budaj. “We’re blessed to be able to do this job. That’s what I focus on, and that’s what I want to do.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for

Canadiens’ young guns in action at the Bell Centre

Posted on 30 September 2014 | Comments Off

PRESS RELEASE MONTREAL – The Hamilton Bulldogs, the Montreal Canadiens’ AHL affiliate, will once again this season have a key American Hockey League match-up at the Bell Centre. Under the guidance of sophomore head coach Sylvain Lefebvre, the Bulldogs will resume the all-Canadian rivalry between the Leafs and the Canadiens as they face the Leafs’ farm team, on Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 1 p.m. The regular season game in the Bulldogs 2014-15 schedule will provide Montreal hockey fans with an opportunity to see some of the Canadiens most promising players acquired over the past few years. In 2013-14 in their 2-game visit to Montreal’s Bell Centre the Bulldogs recorded a 4-1 win over the Syracuse Crunch before dropping a decision by an identical score against the Binghamton Senators. This year’s match-up will be the Bulldogs’ 12th game on Bell Centre ice since their affiliation with the Montreal Canadiens began back in 2002. Over that span the Bulldogs have a 6-5 record in Montreal. The first game Bulldogs game in Montreal goes back to March 18, 2007 and just weeks later the Canadiens affiliate would clinch the title, winning the Calder Cup for the first time in franchise history. Tickets for this game start as low as $15.50 and will go on sale on Saturday, October 4 at noon at the Bell Centre box office and online at For more information on the Hamilton Bulldogs visit Tickets available at the Bell Centre Box Office on Saturday, October 4 at noon. Order online at: or by phone at (514) 790-2525 and 1-855-310-2525 Ticket prices: $15.50 to $69.50 (taxes and service fees included)

Statement game

Posted on 29 September 2014 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – Carey Price was up to his old tricks in his first full preseason outing of 2014-15, showcasing the form that has earned him plenty of accolades over the course of a decorated seven-year NHL career. On Sunday night, the 27-year-old netminder turned aside 29 shots in a 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre, denying the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Chimera on multiple occasions before Joel Ward lit the lamp with just 89 seconds remaining in regulation time to give head coach Barry Trotz’s club the victory. While it wasn’t the end result Price & Co. were ultimately looking for after rattling off three straight wins, the three-time NHL All-Star took things in stride in the aftermath of the Canadiens’ first preseason loss of the year. “It’s nice to get a full workload, to see some shots and work on your timing a little bit. It’s something that really leaves you in the summertime. Probably the hardest thing to get back is the pace of the game. It’s just nice to get back to a real one,” offered Price, who is coming off a 34-win season in 2013-14 in which he also posted a career-high 2.32 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. “There are still some things to work out, but overall I’m feeling pretty good. It’s all about how you feel, and just getting some game action definitely helps.” Price’s latest effort certainly wasn’t lost on his teammates, who wasted little time pointing out just how steady their netminder looked with a brand new season on the horizon. Needless to say, the Anahim Lake, BC native’s stellar performance didn’t surprise them at all. “He was unbelievable. That’s mid-season form for him. He makes four or five game-changing saves during any game. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t bail him out. We did all we could, but I thought we could’ve executed better. That’s a pretty good lineup across the board there for Washington. They’ve got some skill and some real high-end talent. He kept us in the game like he does every game,” stressed Dale Weise, pointing to the fact that Price played an integral part in keeping the Capitals at bay during nine total power play opportunities. Price robs Backstrom “We’ve got so much confidence when he’s in that net. It’s unbelievable. You could see the vibe on our team, no matter how we play. We don’t want to play on our heels, but he’s such a good goaltender. I think he’s the best in the world,” continued Weise, who was one of 10 Canadiens to generate at least one shot on Capitals netminders Justin Peters and Braden Holtby, all 18 of which were turned aside to help Washington secure its second straight preseason win. “Our team just feeds off Carey’s energy. It’s a credit to just how hard he works. He works extremely hard in practice. He takes every shot seriously. He plays out on every rebound. That’s definitely what puts him in the upper-echelon of goaltenders.” Like Weise, newcomer Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau knows full well just how critical a role Price will play come the season-opener on October 8th in Toronto and beyond. Fortunately, the right-winger already senses that the 2014 Olympic gold-medalist is primed for another breakout campaign. “I’d say our goaltender is ready for the season,” offered Parenteau, who is delighted to call Price a teammate after trying to best him time and again during stints with the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche before joining the Canadiens back on June 30th. “He made incredible stops during the game. He was definitely the Carey Price that I went up against over the course of my career. It wasn’t any different than any other game.” It’s safe to say Canadiens fans the world over would happily agree with that assessment. Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for SEE ALSO Game Highlights The Numbers Game - September 28, 2014 Boxscore Youth movement

The Numbers Game – September 28, 2014

Posted on 29 September 2014 | Comments Off

MONTREAL - Here's a numerical look at Sunday's exhibition game between the Canadiens and the Capitals in Montreal. 35 – Number of players remaining at Canadiens training camp after the team announced that 17 players had been assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League on Sunday. Eight players were also released, and forward Nikita Scherbak was assigned to the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. 3 – Number of prospects Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien elected to dress on Sunday evening against Washington, including forwards Jiri Sekac and Christian Thomas, and defenseman Jarred Tinordi. The Habs’ bench boss elected to field a lineup consisting primarily of regulars with just four preseason games remaining before the start of the regular season on October 8th in Toronto. 2 – Number of Canadiens players making their 2014-15 preseason debut on Sunday evening against Washington as Lars Eller and Dale Weise laced up the skates for the first time. The pair was sidelined due to injury, missing out on the opportunity to go up against the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche as the Habs kicked off their preseason schedule. 4 – Number of players still at the Canadiens’ training camp that have never played a regular-season NHL game, including forwards Sven Andrighetto, Jacob De La Rose, Jiri Sekac, and defenseman Darren Dietz. 3 – Number of hits and blocked shots defenseman Alexei Emelin racked up during the first period alone on Sunday evening against the Capitals, tops among all players in uniform through 20 minutes of play. The Russian rearguard was also the most-utilized player in uniform during the opening frame, logging 8:44 of ice time. 15 – Number of Canadiens players who chipped in with one or more hits during Sunday’s tilt against the Capitals, with Alexei Emelin leading the way with seven hits of his own. 24 – Number of penalty minutes amassed by defenseman Jarred Tinordi during Sunday’s tilt against the Capitals before being dismissed from the game after laying out defenseman Nate Schmidt with a solid hit to start the third period. -

Canadiens assign 17 players to Hamilton, release 8 players from training camp and assign Nikita Scherbak to his junior team

Posted on 28 September 2014 | Comments Off

NEWS RELEASE MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced Sunday that 17 players have been assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League. Eight players have been released from the Canadiens training and forward Nikita Scherbak has been assigned to the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. The following players have been assigned to Hamilton (* indicates an injury): Mac Bennett, Tim Bozon, Daniel Carr, Michael Condon, Connor Crisp *, Morgan Ellis, Joe Finley, Stefan Fournier *, T.J. Hensick, Charles Hudon, Patrick Holland, David Makowski, Jack Nevins *, Magnus Nygren, Bobby Shea, Nick Sorkin, Dalton Thrower *. The following players have released from the Canadiens training camp: Justin Baker, Riley Brace, Joël Chouinard, Tanner Eberle, Sahir Gill, Stefano Momesso, Evan Wardley, Zach Yuen. There are still 35 players at camp (20 forwards, 11 defensemen, 4 goaltenders). The Bulldogs will travel to St. John’s, Newfoundland on September 30 to continue their training camp. They will play three games vs the St. John’s Icecaps on October 2, 3 and 5.

Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Capitals

Posted on 28 September 2014 | Comments Off

PRESEASON : CAPITALS (2-2-0) @ CANADIENS (3-0-0) After sweeping the Colorado Avalanche in back-to-back tilts, the Canadiens return home to battle the Washington Capitals on Sunday evening at the Bell Centre. Barry Trotz’s contingent picked up their second win of the preseason on Friday with a 5-4 overtime win over the Boston Bruins. With the season-opener approaching on October 8th, head coach Michel Therrien will utilize a veteran lineup against Washington. P.K. Subban, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Andrei Markov and Alex Galchenyuk will all suit up on Sunday evening, as will Lars Eller, who will take part in his first preseason game after being sidelined with a lower-body injury over the last week or so. After being given the night off on Friday in Quebec City, Carey Price and Peter Budaj will be back in the lineup. It is uncertain at this point, however, which of them will get the start in goal. For their part, the Canadiens will battle the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson on Sunday. Newcomers Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen will also be in the lineup. Evgeny Kuznetsov will not take part in the tilt. Braden Holtby and Justin Peters will likely split time in goal for the Capitals. The game gets underway at 6 p.m. EST.

Notebook – September 27, 2014

Posted on 27 September 2014 | Comments Off

BROSSARD - In today's notebook, Lars Eller dishes on Jiri Sekac, Alex Galchenyuk talks about changing positions, and Jarred Tinordi and Francis Bouillon open up about battling for spots on the blue line. Seeing is believing: Lars Eller was back at practice alongside his teammates on Saturday morning at the Bell Sports Complex. Feeling healthy and ready to return to active duty after being sidelined for about a week due to injury, the 25-year-old Dane centered a line that also featured veteran forward Rene Bourque and young gun Jiri Sekac. After observing Sekac from afar, it was the first opportunity Eller had to see what the smooth-skating Czech forward had to offer up as a potential playing partner. As expected, the former KHL standout quickly impressed the Canadiens pivot, who praised the manner in which Sekac has come into training camp ready to impress. “He’s a good fit. Absolutely. He’s got a very high skill level. He seems to be able to make plays that can break the typical pattern a little bit. He’s an intense player with a good touch. I’m sure he’s going to be very valuable to us going forward,” offered Eller, who could make his preseason debut against the Washington Capitals on Sunday evening at the Bell Centre. “Hopefully, we can start building some chemistry over the next couple of exhibition games.” Sekac is just one of many young players who’ve caught Eller’s eye since training camp started up 10 days ago. The four-year NHL veteran is adamant that boasting plenty of talented prospects eager to crack the Canadiens’ lineup is a good problem to have and bodes well for the future. “There are a lot of good young players at this camp. It’s hard to single out one or two guys. There are a lot of guys that have played their hearts out and turned some heads for sure. It makes for hard decisions for management. That’s the situation we want to be in,” confided Eller, who registered 12 goals and 26 points in 77 regular season games in 2013-14, before finishing second on the team in playoff scoring with 13 points in 17 postseason tilts. “Competition within the team is always healthy, so it’s a good thing. It’s been great to see all of these young guys play their hearts out. They’ve certainly delivered.” The Chucky Shuffle: While Alex Galchenyuk has played center since training camp began, the Canadiens’ first-round pick in 2012 was back playing wing on Saturday on a line with Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec. The talented forward wasn’t reading anything into the move after practice, however, pointing to the fact that lineup changes are simply out of his control. “I’m not the coach. It’s tough for me to evaluate it. To be honest, I try not to think about it at all,” stressed Galchenyuk. “Wherever they put me, I’ll try to be comfortable and adjust to it, whether it’s at center or wing. I was at center at the start of camp and I felt comfortable, but I also feel good on the wing. It doesn’t bother me at all.” During the three games Galchenyuk played at center thus far this preseason, including the intra-squad scrimmage at the Bell Centre last Monday night, the Milwaukee, WI native was clearly at ease, lighting the lamp and creating one good scoring opportunity after another. “I want to see how things play out for me at center,” offered Galchenyuk, who scored the overtime-winner in the Canadiens’ 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche last Thursday night at the Bell Centre. “I’ve been happy with the way I’ve moved out there. Now, I’m back at wing and I’m good with that. I’m going to continue contributing wherever I play, and I’m going to keep working hard.” Taking a closer look: With only four games remaining on the preseason schedule, the competition to secure the last couple of spots on the Canadiens’ blue line is heating up. While Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi are the likely front-runners among an impressive group of young guns eager to earn full-time gigs, Greg Pateryn and veteran Francis Bouillon are still very much in the mix as training camp continues. “Well, it’s training camp. I think there are a lot of guys fighting for spots,” offered Tinordi, who played 22 games with the Canadiens last season. “You try not to think about making mistakes and playing nervous, but I think the biggest thing for me is not to worry about those decisions. Who they pick is all left up to them. The best thing I can do is play my game and play hard.” On the 10th day of training camp, the 22-year-old rearguard indicated that he’s been pleased with the progress he’s made over the last week-and-a-half, but there’s still room for improvement in various aspects of his game. “I think the biggest thing for me is to work on my transitions. I think that’s probably the thing I need to work on most, moving the puck quickly,” confided Tinordi. “I think that’s going to come with time as you get used to the players around you. It’s something I’ve been working on every day at practice.” For his part, Bouillon isn’t at all worried about the fact that he’s only suited up for one of the Canadiens’ three preseason games already in the books. If there’s anyone that understands that exhibition games are all about giving the coaching staff and management an opportunity to evaluate youngsters, it’s him. “I think there were a lot more exhibition games in the past, and now there are a lot less of them,” recalled the 38-year-old defenseman, who will celebrate his 39th birthday on October 17th. “I definitely want to play the most hockey possible to feel good about myself. I know that training camp is coming to an end soon, but there are still preseason games to play and a lot of players that have things to prove. It’s going to be a good battle right up until the end.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for

Youth movement

Posted on 27 September 2014 | Comments Off

QUEBEC CITY -- There's no question the future is bright for hockey in the Quebec capital. The passion for puck in the province is never as obvious as it is when 15,074 loud and proud Canadiens, Avalanche (and Nordiques) fans pack a sold out Colisée Pepsi for an exhibition contest on a Friday night. But the future may be even brighter in Quebec's hockey capital, as a determined group of Habs youngsters pulled out a win against a stacked Avalanche roster to keep the team's perfect preseason record in tact, impressing their head coach in the process. “The young guys were rewarded for their work ethic tonight,” said Michel Therrien after his team battled back from a pair of one-goal deficits to finally top the Avs by a score of 3-2 in the former home of the Nordiques. “They competed and that’s what I’m taking away from this game. Obviously looking at both lineups, [the Avalanche] had a lot of talent on their side, but we had a group that fought really hard.” No one expected it to be easy for a Habs team that counted an average of 111 career NHL games played apiece – or 12.6 if veterans Brandon Prust, Francis Bouillon, David Desharnais, and Tom Gilbert are removed from the mix – which made the win that much sweeter. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to play against these guys, especially when you’re so young. You can see how far you’ve come [as a player],” confirmed Sven Andrighetto, who fired a bullet from the blue line late in the first to knot things up at one. “It was a fun game for us to play. We were a pretty young team with a lot of young guys while they [had most] of their top guys out there,” added the Swiss forward of the extra motivation he and linemates Jiri Sekac and Jacob De La Rose were able to find with the odds stacked against them. “The three of us are really young, so we’re hungry and we complete each other well. They’re two great players, and it’s fun to play with both of them.” Just like the rookie center – who accounted for six of the Canadiens’ 25 total shots on the night – netminder Dustin Tokarski was also proud of the work his young teammates put forth in front of him. “There were a lot of young guys in the lineup, and a couple were playing in their first exhibition game, so it was awesome to see. It shows the depth of this organization and [promises] a lot of good stuff moving forward,” noted the 25-year-old goaltender, who turned aside 27 of 29 shots fired his way in his first full outing of the preseason. “It was a gutsy effort tonight. It was a good team on the other end but our guys brought their A-games tonight and it was fun to get the win.” Another player who made his mark at the Colisée, while continuing to showcase his ability to transition to hockey on this side of the Atlantic was rising Czech star Sekac, who scored the Habs’ second game-tying goal of the evening. “’I felt really good out there. I’m getting better every game and I’m getting used to the North American style of play,” insisted the former KHL pro, whose goal was also his second in as many outings with the Habs since the start of training camp. “It was a great win for us, because we had a really young lineup. It was great to see that we could compete with [Colorado’s veteran] guys. We worked hard and that’s why we won. It’s still just a preseason game. I'd bet regular season games are on a higher level than this one, but it’s definitely a great feeling to beat what was almost a full NHL team." Despite twice having to climb out of a one-goal hole against a veteran lineup on road ice, Andrighetto insists Friday’s result was never in doubt. “You start at 0-0, there are two teams, and 60 minutes to play. Anyone can win.” Steven Nechay is a writer for

The Numbers Game – September 26, 2014

Posted on 27 September 2014 | Comments Off

QUEBEC - Here's a numerical look at Thursday's exhibition game between the Canadiens and the Avalanche in Quebec City. 538 – Days since Patrick Roy last stood behind the bench at the Colisée Pepsi, coaching the Quebec Remparts to an April 6, 2013 win over the visiting Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the second round of the QMJHL playoffs. Saint Patrick`s team would eventually drop the series in five games. 207 – Days since Habs prospect Tim Bozon was hospitalized with meningitis, making an incredible five-month comeback to play his first game in a Canadiens uniform against the Avalanche on Friday. 9 – Players on the Canadiens roster on Friday who have yet to play a regular season NHL game: Darren Dietz, Magnus Nygren, Sven Andrighetto, Tim Bozon, Daniel Carr, Jacob De La Rose, Nikita Scherbak, Jiri Sekac and Nick Sorkin. 4 – Habs hopefuls who have scored career-first goals while wearing the Canadiens uniform so far this preseason. Sven Andrighetto joined teammates Christian Thomas, Drayson Bowman and Jiri Sekac in that respect after knotting things up 1-1 with a bullet from the blue line midway through the second. 15,074 – Hockey-mad Habs, Avs (and Nordiques) fans who packed the sold out Colisée Pepsi on Friday. 100 – Percentage of games played by Jiri Sekac so far this preseason in which the rising Czech star has also scored a goal, finding the back of the net on a nifty wraparound to level things midway through the third in Quebec. -

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