Eller returns as Habs prepare to face Lightning

The Canadiens hit the ice Monday morning in Brossard to begin preparations for their first-round playoff series against the Lightning, which will start Wednesday night in Tampa (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).

Lars Eller, who missed the last three regular-season games while battling the flu, was back on the ice with his teammates and said he’s “100 per cent ready to come back.”

“It was good to get back out there today and feel the ice,” Eller told reporters after practice. “I’m sure that I’ll be fine for Wednesday. It was better getting sick there than a week later, but there’s never a good time to get sick.”.

The Canadiens used both ice surfaces at its Brossard practice facility, with the power-play unit working on one rink. The Canadiens went 0-for-23 on the power play during the last eight regular-season games and finished the season ranked 19th on the PP with a 17.2 per cent success rate. The Canadiens had the fourth-best penalty-killing unit during the regular season with a 85.1 per cent success rate.

“Tough to score 5-on-5 in the playoffs,” coach Michel Therrien told reporters after practice. “When you get a chance to get momentum on the PP, we’re going to make sure we do that.”

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 point. The second unit had Daniel Briere with Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher (with Rene Bourque rotating in), and Alexei Emelin and Josh Gorges on the point.

 Brandon Prust, who missed the last 12 games of the regular season with an upper body injury, was on the ice but is still listed as day-to-day and Therrien wouldn’t say if he’ll be ready for Game 1 in Tampa. Travis Moen, still recovering from a concussion, skated on his own before the team’s practice.

Defenceman Josh Gorges told reporters he’s not concerned about starting the playoffs on the road.

“It gives us an opportunity to just play a really simple, playoff-style road game,” Gorges said. “We don’t have to impress anybody or go out there and make cute plays and impress a crowd that’s going to be amped up and ready to go. We just have to go out and get a win, whatever that takes. One of the good things about starting on the road is we can just grind it out and do anything we can to get a win.”

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced Monday that the club has signed forward Jacob de la Rose to a three-year, entry-level contract. The 6-foot-3, 187-pound forward, who was selected by the Canadiens in the second round (34th overall) of the 2013 NHL entry draft, posted 7-6-13 totals this season with Leksand Idrottsforening in the Swedish Elite League.

Here’s a look at the first-round playoff schedule for Habs vs. Lightning:

Game 1: Wednesday, April 16 at Tampa, 7 p.m.
Game 2: Friday, April 18 at Tampa, 7 p.m.
Game 3: Sunday, April 20 at Montreal, 7 p.m.
Game 4: Tuesday, April 22 at Montreal, 7 p.m.
Game 5 (if necessary): Thursday April 24 at Tampa, 7 p.m.
Game 6 (if necessary): Sunday, April 27 at Montreal, TBD
Game 7 (if necessary): Tuesday, April 29 at Tampa, TBD.

(Gazette file photo/John Kenney)

Habs vs. Lightning should be a treat for fans, by The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs

Habs focus on special teams, by The Gazette’s Pat Hickey

Habs coach Therrien should be toast of the town, by Jack Todd

Captain Gionta puts finishing touch on 100-point season, by Dave Stubbs

Setting the mood for playoffs, Canadiens.com

Post-practice interviews (video), Canadiens.com

Habs final regular-season stats, NHL.com

Complete first-round playoff schedule, NHL.com

The Matchup: Montreal vs. Tampa Bay, Canadiens.com

Scotty Bowman weighs in on current Habs, Stu on Sports blog

Lightning goalie Lindback named NHL’s first star of week, tampabaylightning.com

Crosby wins NHL scoring title for second time, NHL.com

842 Comments

  1. CHicoHab says:

    SteverenO- I am with you on your comments. First wave pp has produced nothing and needs a new angle.

  2. SteverenO says:

    Someone (Krob?) earlier mentioned history …….
    Yes, Pleks -Gio- Burke do have history
    They have played 100 Minutes together at even strength and allowed no goals but the team scored only once while this trio was on at even strength this season;

    Last season they played as a trio for 223 minutes (second most “steady line last season) during which they scored 8 goals while allowing 6 goals against. Their average over the last two season is one goal for every 36 minutes and one GA every 53 minutes, a pretty decent low scoring “shutdown” line.

    With Bourque having a terrible offensive season I do not understand why Therrien would not use his most effective line this season in the playoffs;
    Plek – Briere-Gionta have played 181 minutes as a trio during which time the team has scored 11 goals while only allowing one Goal against. A terrific “shut down” line that can also score goals.

    Eller-Prust-Gallagher: have not played together this season nor did they play together last season; (if they did it was for less than 20 minutes at even strength).

    As I have said before, any lineup that does NOT include the trio of Briere (LW)- Plekanec- Gionta is a huge coaching mistake. If the Habs lose the series and this line does not play together the coach should be fired as soon as they are eliminated.

    After making the playoffs the most important task in the regular season is to prepare for the playoffs. If the coach does not analyze the results of a season full of line juggling and utilize the trios that have proven to be the most effective when it matters most, he is, by definition, incompetent.

    Does anyone else find it disconcerting that the coach is still juggling lines in practice, the day before the first game of the post season?
    The only “line” that is not being altered is the1st wave of the PowerPlay- ust be because of how effective the line of Patches-DD-Vanek have been with the man advantage: (57 minutes played with the man advantage 2 powerplay goals scored).

    As a life long Habs fan, I am hoping that the team goes deep in the playoffs despite the coach”s glaring weakness. the only good thing about an early exit from the post -season is the possibility that it would lead to a coaching change.

    The sad part is that a lot of what Therrien brings is positive- his biggest weakness (evaluating talent and performance) is one that could easily be overcome by the hiring/deployment of a data analyst. Please note that I am not even talking about so called “advanced stats” I would be happy, and the team would do better, if they simply used good old fashioned performance metrics.

    regards,

    Steve O.

  3. habsfan0 says:

    I take it we will not be exposed to the dulcet tones of one Bob Cole during the Habs Tampa series?

  4. Hobie says:

    Jessica Rusnak ‏@JessRusnak 37m

    #habson690 Travis Moen will travel with the team to Tampa.

  5. Dunboyne Mike says:

    Timo.
    You are sussed: habitoba, 1.48am. How about those missionaries?

  6. BriPro says:

    Hi all! It’s been a while.

    First off, I’d like to give a HUGE hats off to Jim and Chris (Habsfan 10912 & Chrisadiens) for being members of one of the greatest families my wife and I have every met.

    We attended Chris’ wedding on the weekend, and just to give you an idea of who they are, how they don’t take life too seriously and their loyalty to the Habs, the groom on the cake was wearing a Habs outfit. It was priceless.

    And having brought our grandson with us, their entire family treated us like family. They are such wonderful people. I’m looking forward to their all coming up for the next summit. I’ll gladly make room for them in our home. It’s the least we can do.

    After the wedding, we (Jim, Chris, L elle, and myself) meandered down to the bar to watch the Habs’ snoozer against the Rangers, but at least OT was exciting. But better still is the rivalry between our Jim and his brother, the Rangers fan. That was priceless. It’s one of those love/can’t stand you relationships. And as soon as a slightly (OK… very) drunken Chris and I started to sing “Ole Ole”, …. that was it!
    Uncle Bob was gone! Too funny.

    As for the very exciting upcoming playoffs, I don’t care about the line combinations. I don’t care about the unjustified coach bashing. I just want our team to win. With the tools this version of the Habs possesses, I don’t see why we can squeak out a win and meet the Bs in the division semis. Or better yet, the Red Wings.

    Prediction?

    Habs Team A takes it in 5.
    Habs Team B takes it in 7.

  7. Mattyleg says:

    Listening to Marinaro.
    What is our captain’s name?

    If you said “Jonta,” you would be correct.
    According to Marinaro.

    -edit- Shiram!! Did you just call in to TSN 690?? Marinaro is talking to ‘Shiram’!!

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  8. Timo says:

    So according to RDS Bourque will play with Eller and Gio while White will be a scratch with Bournival, Briere and Weise as Habs’ 4th line. Prust on the second line with Pleks and Gallagher.

    I say they will need some gelling time.

  9. Luke says:

    ISS April draft rankings:

    http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/feature/?id=114013

    1. SAM REINHART C 6’1 186 R 11/6/95 Kootenay WHL
    2. AARON EKBLAD D 6’4 216 R 2/7/96 Barrie OHL
    3. MICHAEL DAL COLLE F 6’2 184 L 6/20/96 Oshawa OHL
    4. SAM BENNETT LW 6’0 178 L 6/20/96 Kingston OHL
    5. WILLIE NYLANDER C 5’11 169 R 5/1/95 Rogle SweAI
    6. LEON DRAISAITL C 6’1 199 L 10/27/95 Prince Albert WHL
    7. BRENDAN PERLINI LW 6’2 205 L 4/27/96 Niagara OHL
    8. ALEX TUCH RW 6’3 213 R 5/10/96 USA Under-18 NTDP
    9. NICK RITCHIE F 6’2 218 L 12/5/95 Peterborough OHL
    10. JAKE VIRTANEN LW 6’1 213 R 8/17/96 Calgary WHL

  10. jimmy shaker says:

    MT this is all you have to do with the lines tomorrow…..why do you make it so difficult when it’s right before your eyes.

    Patch/DD/Vanek
    Danny B/Pleks/Gally
    Bernie/Eller/Gio
    Prust/White/Weezy

    Bourque/Parros/Murray/Tinordi all scratched

    Chucky and Moen injured

    Shaker out!

  11. Alex says:

    Tomorrow is the big day, boy am I excited. I’d love to see us take the first game on the road and get the confidence up of all of our players. Plekanec will have his work cut out for him this series, we will need to make sure Stamkos is marked tight every play – if he gets going I think it will be tough to contain him. I wish Tinordi could get in over Boullion, I think he has been great for us and his play is also well suited for playoff hockey; not to mention we could use his presence to clear the crease. The most important piece of our team is Carey Price, I’d love to see him have a strong playoff and if he is playing as well as he can I think we have a great shot at beating Tampa and giving Boston a run for their money in the second round. This could be a long playoff run for us, at least I hope so!
    Go Habs Go!

  12. Mattyleg says:

    This is strange…
    I posted a ‘pumpup’ video earlier today featuring a meadow lark.
    The girl who just sat down opposite me in the McGill library is listening to birdsongs on her headphones. Constant twittering.

    Is this real life?

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  13. HabinBurlington says:

    23 minutes ago
    JohnLuTSNMtl: . @JGentile91 Reports out of Tampa say Bishop is not practising with the team today.

  14. Mattyleg says:

    Pat Leonard ‏@PLeonardNYDN 10m
    Uh oh. Derick Brassard just limped off the ice and went to locker room holding his lower back #NYR

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  15. krob1000 says:

    Moen skating today as per tsn

  16. 2mins4lookinsooogood says:

    Sorry Friends, but I have some very, very bad news. After reading many of the posts and consulting with the Internet, I have learned that Jon Cooper is 14 feet tall and has never lost a hockey game.

    Apparently in the last 4 wins for Tampa, the other team not only didn’t actually show up, they sent an emissary with a large pile of money, some barrels of Chianti and their first born draft choice.

    On the other hand, Michel Therrien has never won a single game in the NHL. NOT ONE! …

    I know that sounds so incredibly far fetched but it is true since it is repeated here by some many posters.

    I for one am going to hide under a pile of sweaters a la Homer Simpson until Therrien is fired and Orpik finally does right by Boston and gets beaten up by Thornton, thus resulting in a return to the Earth’s natural harmony.

    “Don’t crush that dwarf Alex Henry, hand me the pliers”

  17. WVHabsfan says:

    I wanna be like Front when I grow up!!!! Love ya man!! You always make me chuckle!

  18. Luke says:

    Chopped from the Older Comments Page:

    SmartDog says:
    April 15, 2014 at 10:56 am You could be right Luke. Last year’s abrupt playoff halt, and my general view of Therrien (old school thinking) has me worried.

    I promise that if he Habs make it past the Lightning and not just on Price’s back, I’ll be more positive.

    Luke says:
    April 15, 2014 at 11:34 am

    On Price’s back, or not, it doesn’t (shouldn’t) matter. He’s a member of the team and a teammate.
    If Price bags 2 shutouts and lets in 7 goals in a 6 game series win, why is that a bad thing?
    If Eller scores 8 goals & 13 points in a 4 game sweep is that bad as well?

    I just want my players to play well. I’m not going to say “Yah, but…” if it is the goalie who plays well or if its the 2nd line that plays well. Same team. Same result.

    • Mattyleg says:

      We suck.
      If we didn’t have a great goaltender, a killer first line, one of the best shutdown centres in the East (seen his SH FOW stats?) a Norris Trophy winner, a mobile and smart defence corps, two international team captains, and a fourth line with both grit and speed, Therrien NEVER would have got this team to the playoffs.

      —Hope Springs Eternal—

    • SmartDog says:

      The key word in my sentence is “just”. If we win the way the Leafs were winning for the first half of the season, we won’t last. And the credit goes to Price and his coach. I want to see the TEAM play well. That’s all.

      ————————————-
      Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

  19. Mattyleg says:

    Wow, just came across a video showing one of the HI/O members (not clear who, however) trying to get home after the summit!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAXrxlDK6c

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  20. frontenac1 says:

    Hola Amigos! Play off Hockey!Time to load up the Buckboard with provisions. Liquor Store,then Beer Store, then tobacco store. Glad I’ve got a $500 daily limit at the ATM. Saludos!

  21. shiram says:

    Habs Gif album :
    http://imgur.com/gallery/qPDu2

    It’s not a video, but it’s still quite the pumper upper.

  22. HabsPooch says:

    Nonis sure has a strong resemblance to Jay-Z…take a look at both their profiles.

  23. HabinBurlington says:

    Reasons why your favourite team will not win the CUp this season.

    http://www.thehockeynews.com/blog/why-your-team-will-not-win-the-2014-stanley-cup/

  24. Ian Cobb says:

    We are going to be in for a treat in the 1st round of the play offs. Two hockey teams, not goon type teams, they are both skating teams with great talent. The season series was 3 to 1 in favor of Tampa but this series will be in favor of the Hab’s. Although there will be close 1 goal contests, the Hab’s will prevail in 6 or 7 games.

    On the Boston Detroit series, Boston is going to be in for a battle against a very good team that played hurt all season. If Detroit has all hands on deck for this series, they will blow the Bean town boys out to the golf course in a cloud of their own methane gas!

  25. HabsPooch says:

    So once again…with the Flyers’s brutal over payment for MacDonald, this will have an impact of PK’s value going into talks after this season.
    I know it’s been mentioned that other team signings should have no impact on our team signings but IT WILL.
    PK’s camp will feast on this…

    • Paz says:

      Seriously, the only people who think that Subban is worth less than 7.5 or even 8 million are the posters here.

      Ironic.

    • Loonie says:

      I’m sorry but Andy MacDonald has no impact on the Subban negotiations. They couldn’t be more night and day as players. The Flyer is a defense first player and Subban is a high pedigree pick who is an offensive difference maker.

      There is no way that negotiations on Subban’s side even start around five million annually and neither side will even mention the name Andy MacDonald as a comparable.

      The only player that I can think of around that five million mark that can be used as a comparable to Subban is Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

      But Erik Karlsson is pretty much the perfect match. For both sides.

    • GoldenSeal says:

      I love PK but if Bergevin is considering keeping Therrien he should trade PK. PK will never flourish under this coach. Whether it is coach incompetence or something more sinister does not matter. It is clear that the coach has no idea how to bring up young talent. I’m also starting to worry about Beaulieu. Anyway, PK deserves the chance to be the superstar we all know he is. Right now he has become a middle of the road defenceman. Sad really.

      • Loonie says:

        He won the Norris last year under Therrien.

        • GoldenSeal says:

          Despite Therrien I think is the correct phrase here.

          • Loonie says:

            I’m no Therrien apologist or even particularly fond of him and you might be right about Therrien holding Subban back. He’s certainly done it with others. I don’t agree with Subban’s benching and I don’t agree with the way he’s been discussed with the media by Therrien in the past. But the onus is always on the player to make it impossible for the coach to slight him in any way. Subban still takes stupid penalties and still makes huge mistakes in the defensive zone and at the offensive zone blue line. That comes part and parcel with an offense first player regardless of position and I don’t agree with benching him as I said earlier. But at the same time, I do agree with not trusting Subban with tougher than normal defensive responsibilities until he’s proven that he can slow the game down defensively and eliminate the bad penalties and awful mistakes.

  26. GoldenSeal says:

    Good luck to the Habs!

  27. Ozmodiar says:

    @Paz – those texts have been coming to me.

    / enough already

  28. jimmy shaker says:

    MT still screwing with the lines as per John lu!!!!!!!Man I’d love to thunder punch this coach right in the throat!

    @JohnLuTSNMtl 21m
    #Habs lines:
    Pacioretty – Desharnais – Vanek
    Bourque – Eller – Gionta
    Prust – Plekanec – Gallagher
    Bournival – Brière – Weise
    Parros, White.

    Leave white on the 4th line.
    Leave Danny B on the second line with pleks and gally.
    Leave bourque in his streets.
    Leave prust/eller/gio the third line!

    What is wrong with this coach? Man he chaps my arse sometimes!

    Shaker out!

    • GoldenSeal says:

      Amazing performance by the Habs this year despite having the dumbest coach in the NHL (or is that Torts). Okay close to the dumbest.

    • Not so happy with the juggling either, but at least it means he’s willing to switch things up when they aren’t working. Whether there’s sufficient time to get things working in the first place is another matter. Seeing as he didn’t adjust well during last year’s brutal playoffs, maybe it’s a good sign.

      I like having Pleks and Gio on different lines, as it means we have two lines capable of checking. As long as Eller, Bourque and Prust elevate their games, it should be effective.

      Defense wins championships

      “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” St. Thomas Aquinas

    • shiram says:

      Well having that fourth line makes it a different role than a 4th is usually utilized for, those 3 guys certainly could pot in some goals once in a while, but you’d think Brière would get a bigger role.

      Plus White is good on the draw, feisty and good at shutting down opposition.

      Bournival should get top 9 minutes, Prust should not, especially coming back from an injury.

      Agreed on Bourque, though the coaching staff probably feels he brings more offense than any of White and Parros, plus Bourque has not looked too bad in recent games.

      Anyways, it’s bound to change within the game.

    • Luke says:

      Possibilities:

      These lines, while different then yesterdays, might be situation, just like yerstedays may have been.

      Aside from the Vanek line, the other three lines look like the kind of lines you’d use if you had a 2 or 3 goal lead and wanted to roll all 4 lines and be responsible defensively.

      Practice lines… meh… every practice there are posts about them… and they matter not one bit.

  29. Loonie says:

    Jeff O’neill made a very good point about the Habs when he said that the Vanek addition creates clearly defined roles for every forward on the team. He didn’t go into great detail but even with Galchenyuk’s injury the team has Eller and Bourque in positions where they can play defense first hockey where previously they were being counted on for scoring. Entering the playoffs, if they score it’s just a bonus.

    Speaking of which I’m hopeful that the coaching staff keeps Michael Bournival with Plekanec and Gionta. He’s sheltered there and has enough offensive punch that he can contribute and is unbelievably smart defensively for a player his age. Every time I watch him play I feel like I’m watching what Sami Pahlsson would have been with speed and some scoring touch.

    Pacioretty – Desharnais – Vanek
    Bournival – Plekanec – Gionta
    Briere – Eller – Gallagher
    Prust – White – Bourque

    I’m sure the forward lines won’t look like this but it’s something that I’d like to see.

    • Paz says:

      I have been trying to get Bournival with Plekanec and Gionta for a few weeks now. But Therrien won’t answer my texts.

    • Dunboyne Mike says:

      Hi Loonie.
      Agree about Bournival. Ever since he was first tried with Pleks and Gionta I’ve been hoping he’d end up back there and not on the 4th. Line 2 could easily become a source of secondary scoring.

      • Loonie says:

        Hey Mike.

        I think there’s some irony here. Dating back to the Jacques Martin days the team was searching over and over again for a player who would be a good fit with Plekanec and Gionta. They’ve tried Bourque, Briere, Eller, Gallagher, Moen and Prust among others.

        Bournival is just the perfect fit. He’s fast, big enough, plays physical and is very talented both ways. He’d still be a good fit with them if he were a defensive liability, but he’s excellent defensively.

        Now if they sit him out to make room for Moen I respect the decision but disagree with it.

        There’s no other player on the Habs’ roster who fits better with those two and I really hope they have the guts to sit out a veteran to make room for him if only on a trial basis to see how he handles the playoffs.

      • Paz says:

        Bournival works real well recovering the puck, creating space with his speed, and feeding nice passes for scoring chances.
        This led to 4 or 5 of Plekanec goals in the beginning of the season when Plekanec was getting a point a game.

    • shiram says:

      We’ll see how Therrien does it.
      The practice line for yesterday seem to indicate Eller would get the tough D assignment.
      I also think playing Bournival on the fourth line is a bit of a waste.

      • Loonie says:

        On the road I’m sure they’ll do their best to get Desharnais offensive zone starts and give Eller and Plekanec the defensive zone starts. Back in Montreal they had better get Plekanec matched against Stamkos.


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