Coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens were back on the ice Wednesday morning for practice in Brossard.
The early news was that Louis Leblanc (photo above) and Martin St-Pierre have both been sent back to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Leblanc was held pointless in five games with the Habs and was plus-2. St-Pierre was held pointless in his one game with the Habs Tuesday night.
“Louis Leblanc is leaving for Hamilton with great confidence,” coach Michel Therrien told reporters after practice. “We’re happy with what we saw from him.”
David Desharnais, who was a healthy scratch for Tuesday’s game, was skating on a line with Max Pacioretty and Rene Bourque at the start of practice, while Lars Eller was back with Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk. Later in practice, Desharnais skated on a line with Michael Bournival and Bourque, while Pacioretty was with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta.
“We wanted (Desharnais) to take a step back and we didn’t want to wait too long to bring him back in the lineup,” Therrien said. “That was our goal. I believe when a player is facing a situation like he’s facing right now, you don’t want to start to think in the stands too long. We want to give him a chance. We want to show him support. … He’s an important player for us and we have to show our support (toward) him.”
Said Desharnais about being a healthy scratch: “It’s not a good feeling. You want to be out there helping your teammates. But at the same time (I’ve) just got to be ready when I play my next game. (Therrien) expects more from me and I expect more from myself. And I know that. So just got to bring it next game.”
Therrien confirmed after practice that Desharnais will be back in the lineup Thursday when the Canadiens visit the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690) and that Carey Price will start in goal. Alexei Emelin, recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, and Travis Moen, who is recovering from a fractured orbital bone, both practised Wednesday with full-contact jerseys. Moen will return to the lineup in Ottawa while wearing a visor.
Daniel Brière, who has been sidelined with a concussion, will make the trip and skate with his teammates for the first time since being injured Thursday morning in Ottawa.
Eller was happy about being reunited with Gallagher and Galchenyuk.
“I like playing with Chucky and Gally, of course,” he said. “I think we’ve played some great hockey together, in the beginning. So we know what we can do. And I think coach sees that, too. So he’s counting on us to go out there and produce something.”
Here’s how the lines and defence pairings looked at the end of practice Wednesday:
(Photo by Allen McInnis/The Gazette)