The Canadiens headed to Florida immediately after Thursday night’s wild 5-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings and will face the Panthers Saturday night (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
The Canadiens practised Friday afternoon in Florida, but one player was missing. Tomas Plekanec, who scored two goals in the win over the Red Wings, did not travel with the team to Florida, instead returning to Montreal for what the team called a “family matter.”
“We’re not sure Pleky will be there tomorrow,” coach Michel Therrien told reporters after practice. “For us, it’s family first. If he’s there, it’s great for us, great for the team, but if he isn’t, we have other players who can step in. But the way we do things, family is most important.”
There was great news Friday about Habs prospect Tim Bozon, who was being released from hospital in Saskatoon after spending four weeks there battling a form of acute bacterial meningitis that had put him in a medically induced coma.
“From what I have learned since coming out of the coma, the people here at the Royal University Hospital went to amazing lengths to save my life,” Bozon said at a news conference Friday in Saskatoon. “To them, first and foremost, my heartfelt thanks. But I must also extend gratitude to everyone who sent me their thoughts and prayers, especially my parents, who rushed here from France to be by my side.”
Said Bozon’s neurologist, Dr. Gary Hunter: “We are optimistic he will make a full recovery but it will take some time before that possibility could be realized.”
Bozon, who will continue to undergo rehabilitation after his discharge from hospital, is expected to drop the puck during a ceremonial faceoff Saturday night when his Kootenay Ice junior team meets the Calgary Hitmen in a WHL playoff game. Bozon was selected by the Canadiens in the third round (64th overall) at the 2012 NHL entry draft. You can follow Bozon on Twitter by clicking here.
Therrien announced after Friday’s practice that Carey Price will start in goal against Florida. Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, who suffered an upper-body injury in a 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night, won’t be in the lineup Saturday night. Dan Ellis will get the start in his place and Scott Clemmensen will be the backup.
Saturday’s game will be a homecoming for Canadiens defenceman Mike Weaver, who was acquired from the Panthers at this month’s NHL trade deadline.
“I had four years here, it was a great place to live,” Weaver said. “Obviously, it’s emotional, but I’m happy where I am now. Being in a big market, being on a playoff team and everything that goes with Montreal, it’s exciting.”
Here’s how the Habs lines and defence pairings looked at practice Friday:
(Photo by Dario Ayala/The Gazette)