Canadiens defenceman Alexei Emelin, who has been sidelined since last season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, practised with his teammates Monday in Brossard while wearing a regular practice jersey. It marked the first time he has participated in a practice without wearing a no-contact jersey.
Last week, Emelin signed a four-year, $16.4-million contract extension with the club that takes him through the 2017-18 season.
Martin St-Pierre, who was called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday night, also took part in the practice. Travis Moen was wearing a no-contact jersey at practice along with a visor to protect a fractured orbital bone suffered on Oct. 26 in a game against the San Jose Sharks. Moen won’t be ready for Tuesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., TSN, RDS, TSN Radio 690), but hopes to play Thursday in Ottawa against the Senators.
“Obviously it was a scary call,” Moen said of the eye injury. “I’ve had a few in my career that obviously make you really think about putting a visor on. They won’t let me play without one for at least four to six weeks. So I’ll tough it out for then and then make a decision (about keeping the visor on).”
Daniel Brière skated Monday for the first time since suffering a concussion on Oct. 19 against the Nashville Predators. No timetable has been set for his return to the lineup, but coach Michel Therrien said he is symptom free. Brandon Prust, who injured his shoulder during the same game against Nashville, also skated Monday but no date has been set for his return to the lineup. Brière and Moen both skated on the second practice rink in Brossard.
Monday was Therrien’s 50th birthday and Brendan Gallagher celebrated the occasion by giving the coach a cream pie to the face. After practice, Therrien confirmed that Carey Price will start in goal Tuesday night against the Blues.
When asked about P.K. Subban’s play this season, Therrien told reporters in Brossard: “He’s a thoroughbred, but you have to guide a thoroughbred so he’ll win you the race.”
David Desharnais, who has only one assist in 15 games and is minus-2 in the first season of a four-year, $14-million contract, was demoted to the fourth line at practice with Ryan White and George Parros.
“He wants success and we’re working with him to make sure that he’s going to get some success,” Therrien said about Desharnais. “But, obviously, the success is not there. So now we’re in a position that we have to make decisions. And we try everything with him. As a coaching staff, we met him, we showed him videos, we gave him ice time to make sure that he was able to get out of that slump. But there’s a time that as a coaching staff that we had to make some decisions and because the results are not there. Yes, we’re coaching indivduals, but in the meantime we’re coaching a hockey team as well. So we’ve got to make sure that we’re putting the best lineup that we’re thinking is going to make us win hockey games.
“We haven’t given up hope,” Therrien added. ”For sure, the results are forcing us to make decisions and we have to make those decisions.”
The Canadiens also announced on Monday that Price is the Molson Cup recipient for the month of October. Price was selected five times as the first star of the game (on Oct. 5 against Philadelphia, Oct. 12 at Vancouver, Oct. 15 in Winnipeg, Oct. 17 against the Columbus and Oct. 29 against Dallas) and once as the second star (Oct. 19 against Nashville). Price finished ahead of Tomas Plekanec and Michaël Bournival. Price had a 6-5-0 record in 11 games in October, with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage. He will be presented with the Molson Cup before Tuesday’s game.
Here’s how the lines and defence pairings looked at practice:
Bourque – Plekanec – Gionta
Pacioretty – Galchenyuk – Gallagher
Leblanc – Eller – Bourque
Desharnais – White – Parros
St-Pierre – Moen
Diaz – Gorges
Markov – Subban
Murray – Bouillon
Emelin – Pateryn
After Tuesday’s game against the Blues, the Canadiens will travel to Ottawa to face the Senators Thursday night (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690) and then play a rare Sunday night game at the Bell Centre against the New York Islanders (6 p.m., TSN-HABS, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)
You can watch a Gazette video from practice here: