Long-time P.E.I. bed and breakfast owner recalls life-long fighting ...
Peers Alliance set to host annual poetry slam and have some wacky fun ...
UPEI student to share her experiences as an out, queer woman in China
Making East Coast workplaces more inclusive for LGBTQ2+ community
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Visit SaltWire.com for more of the stories you want.
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19: August 6, 2020
After enjoying a very rare weekend off, the Canadiens were back on the ice Monday morning for practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.
For the first time this season, the Canadiens didn’t play on a Saturday and coach Claude Julien also gave his players Sunday off. There are only two more times this season when the Canadiens don’t play on a Saturday: Jan. 25, which is at the end of their bye week in the schedule, and March 14, when they play the next day in Anaheim to start a four-game road trip through California and ending up in Colorado.
“We looked like we had some good energy this morning and we need that,” Julien said after Monday’s practice. “We went through a rough patch there — not just about the losses — but as a schedule we had talked about those three weeks that were going to be tough and they were tough.”
Before getting the weekend off, the Canadiens had played 10 games in 18 days, posting a 2-6-2 record.
“I think it was the right time for them to have a couple of days off the ice and come back fresh,” Julien said. “We got another stretch here coming up before Christmas — three games this week — and then we got that four-game stretch out West next week. So it’s important for us to be as fresh as possible to be able to challenge and win some hockey games and get ourselves back to where we should be after going through this tough slide.”
The Canadiens headed to the airport after Monday’s practice for a flight to Pittsburgh, where they will play the Penguins Tuesday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).
Julien wouldn’t say whether Carey Price or Cayden Primeau will start in goal against the Penguins, which is the first of back-to-back games for the Canadiens with the Ottawa Senators visiting the Bell Centre Wednesday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). Julien also wouldn’t say if there’s a possibility Price could play both games.
“It depends,” he said. “We’ll see as the games go on here.”
Habs knocked out of playoff spot
The Buffalo Sabres (14-11-6) moved into third place in the Atlantic Division with a 3-2 overtime win over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, knocking the Canadiens (13-11-6) out of a playoff spot. The Sabres are two points ahead of the Canadiens, who hold a game in hand.
“When we play our game and we play the right way for the entire 60 minutes we can beat anybody,” the Canadiens’ Jordan Weal said after Monday’s practice. “It seems all the top teams in the Eastern Conference we’ve beat. It’s just a matter of us bringing that effort every single night and consistently doing it. Then we can pick our heads up in three months and we’re going to find ourselves in a playoff spot.
“If we don’t worry about the little things and worry about just the details and harping on those details and executing, always being on top of things, not giving up chances, we’re going to be just fine,” Weal added. “It’s when we start to worry about every single game I think that’s going to kind of get to us, it’s going to wear us down by the time January, February comes. So if we go out there and put our heads down, work as hard as we can, be tight defensively, we’re going to do just fine and I think in February, March we’re going to be happy with where we’re at.”
The Canadiens are three points behind their pace from last season, when they were 15-10-5 after 30 games. Last season it took 98 points to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. To reach that number this season, the Canadiens would need 66 points from their final 52 games — a record equivalent to 31-17-4.
Players appreciated break
Weal said the players really appreciated having the weekend off and that it showed on the ice at Monday’s practice.
“We had a couple of days there to kind of regroup, refocus, get our energy back,” Weal said. “I think a lot of the guys did that because there was good energy out there today. Guys were buzzing, guys were chatting it up. You could see that we needed those days. It’s nice, especially after we played something like seven games in 10 days there. We were battling there for about a week and a half, so it was nice to get a couple of days. We had a couple of group events and stuff like that so it was nice to get together with guys and girlfriends and have a little relax time.”
The Canadiens held their annual team Christmas party on Sunday at the Bell Centre.
“It’s nice to get together with everyone and enjoy the holiday season and have 48 hours there where we could kind of decompress,” Weal said. “It’s more on a personal level and you see what everyone goes home to and stuff like that. It’s nice to get to know those people in your organization better.”
Domi struggling offensively
Max Domi has now gone seven games without a goal and has only two in the last 17 — both coming in 6-5 loss to the New York Rangers on Nov. 23.
For the season, Domi has 6-12-18 totals and is plus-2. After 30 games last season, Domi had 14-17-31 totals and he finished the year with 28-44-72 totals, setting career highs in goals, assists and points.
When asked after practice Monday if teams might be defending Domi more closely this season, Julien said: “No, not really. We’re a team that has four lines … I don’t think anybody is saying, specifically, Max Domi is a guy you got to go after. I just see a player who’s a little bit different. Not quite as (good at) getting to the inside of the dots and creating those chances. He was hungry last year, he wanted to score, and I think he’s got to go back to those areas if he wants to have some production.”
Jesperi Kotkaniemi remains home while recovering from a concussion he suffered after being slammed to the ice by Colorado defenceman Nikita Zadorov during last Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Avalanche at the Bell Centre. Julien said there was no timetable yet for Kotkaniemi’s return as the 19-year-old remains under concussion protocol.
Paul Byron, who had knee surgery on Nov. 19, is skating again by himself but hasn’t been given the green light by the Canadiens’ medical staff to start practising with the team. After the surgery, the Canadiens said Byron was expected to miss four weeks.
Jonathan Drouin (wrist surgery) and Victor Mete (ankle) also remain on the injured list. Drouin was expected to miss at least eight weeks after having his surgery on Nov. 18. Mete was expected to miss at least two weeks after suffering his injury in game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 30.
Riley Barber, who was called up from the AHL’s Laval Rocket on Sunday, practised on the fourth line Monday with Nate Thompson and Matthew Peca. Here’s how all the forward lines and defence pairings looked:
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Domi – Armia
Cousins – Suzuki – Weal
Peca – Thompson – Barber
Kulak – Weber
Chiarot – Petry
Leskinen – Fleury
Canadiens defenceman Jeff Petry celebrated his 32nd birthday on Monday and led the team stretch at the end of practice.
The Canadiens will play the Penguins Tuesday night in Pittsburgh (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio) and then fly back to Montreal to face the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., SN, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). The Canadiens then have practices scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday and Friday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard before facing the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., SNE, SN360, CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio).
On Sunday, the Canadiens will fly to Vancouver for their annual Western Canada road trip. They will play the Canucks Tuesday (10 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio), the Calgary Flames Thursday (9 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio), the Edmonton Oilers Saturday (7 p.m., CITY, SNE, TVA Sports) and the Winnipeg Jets the following Monday (8 p.m., TSN2, TSN3, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019