Brendan Gallagher will make his NHL debut Tuesday night when the Canadiens are home to the Florida Panthers (7:30 p.m., RDS, TSN 690 Radio).
“I’m going to go out there and do the things that have gotten me this far,” said Gallagher, who will be playing on a line with Brandon Prust and fellow rookie Alex Galchenyuk. “I’ll try to use my speed, go hard to the net and try to create some space for myself. Gally and I have been rooming together and we’re pretty close and Prust is out there as our baby-sitter.”
Gallagher said he didn’t expect nerves to be a problem.
“I’ve played in some big games before, not as big as this one, and I’ll be using that experience to help me tonight,” Gallagher said.
Coach Michel Therrien said he liked the speed Gallagher and Galchenyuk brought to the lineup and he talked about moving Galchenyuk from the wing to centre.
“We have a window in which to evaluate him and it’s closing,” said Therrien, referring to the fact the team must make a decision on whether to return Galchenyuk to the junior Sarnia Sting before he plays his sixth NHL game. “We see him in practice, but it’s different in games and we want to see him in a variety of roles.”
Lars Eller is the odd man out from the opening-night roster. He’s a healthy scratch along with Mike Blunden and defenceman Yannick Weber.
In another change, Josh Gorges may see some action on the second power-play unit, but he said his focus is playing solid defence against the Panthers.
“This is their third game in four nights and we have to jump on them from the start,” Gorges said.
The veteran defenceman said the Canadiens have to pay close attention to Alex Kovalev.
“When he was here, I had to go up against him every day in practice and he’s the most talented player in the NHL,” Gorges said.