It’s hours before puck drop and fans all over the country as well as the globe are anticipating a strong showing from their Montreal Canadiens tonight.
Over the past two days, the Habs have been working on their late season deficiencies on both rinks in Brossard, before departing on an early morning flight to Tampa today. Coach Michel Therrien spoke of the lack of 5 on 5 scoring, and how it becomes more difficult during the post-season. Which leads to the importance of the power-play.
“When you get a chance to get momentum on the PP, we’re going to make sure we do that.” ~ Michel Therrien
With the power-play going 0-23 during the last eight games in the regular season, the team spent a lot of the practice time focussing on making vast improvement for when they get those opportunities against the Lightning. The first power-play unit at practice had Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, and Thomas Vanek up front with Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban on the blue line. The second unit had Daniel Briere, along with Tomas Plekanec, and Brendan Gallagher, while Alexei Emelin and Josh Gorges took the point. Rene Bourque rotated in on the second line of forwards.
The good news for Les Boys came with the announcement that Lars Eller will make his return tonight after being out of the line-up for several games with the flu. Also announced after this mornings optional skate was that Brandon Prust will be in the line-up this evening after missing 12 games (upper body injury), and will most likely be playing alongside Plekanec and Gallagher.
“He’s had two good practices with our team,” coach Michel Therrien told reporters in Tampa about Prust. ”He’s excited and we’re all excited about him being back in the lineup. He’s a leader, he’s a tough guy to play against, he’s got speed and, most importantly, he’s a gamer.” ~ M. Therrien
Carey Price will be the starter for La Flanelle, with much to prove after some less than impressive past Playoff appearances. Coming off a career high season and a Gold Medal win in Sochi, he will be determined to improve on his career 9-17 playoff record with a 2.90 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.
Tampa coach Jon Cooper confirmed that Ben Bishop will miss the first game, but would not concede who would get the start in his place.
The puck drops just after 19h00 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Join us on Twitter @BleedBBR for in-game live Tweeting. The game can be seen on CBC, RDS, and heard on TSN Radio 690.