The Canadiens will be looking to take a 2-0 series lead – and win their sixth straight playoff game – when they play the Bruins in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Saturday afternoon (12:30 p.m., CBC, NBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
Coach Michel Therrien announced Saturday morning that Michael Bournival will return to the lineup for Game 2, replacing Travis Moen on the fourth line with Daniel Briere and Dale Weise.
The Canadiens have grown accustomed to playing with the lead during the playoffs. In their first five games – a four-game sweep over Tampa Bay and a 4-3 double-overtime win over the Bruins in Game 1 of Round 2 – the Habs have been behind in the score for a total of only three minutes and 34 seconds.
To keep their streak going, the Canadiens are going to need more production from their No. 1 line of Thomas Vanek, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. All three struggled in Game 1 against Boston and Vanek was even demoted from the top line.
Vanek, Desharnais and Pacioretty have combined for only seven points in the first five playoff games: a goal and two assists for Vanek and a goal and an assist for both Desharnais and Pacioretty.
“There’s a few players on our team who I believe need to step up their game and (Vanek) is one of them,” coach Michel Therrien told reporters in Boston on Friday afternoon. “I’m not here to mention names but as a group, we need to be better and we will be. I’m not worried. The good news is, we found a way to win. I’m glad we have Vanek in our lineup. He can be a dangerous guy (against) other teams.
“I don’t need to speak to him,” the coach added. “He understands. As a coach, you have to make decisions to find the solutions to get the maximum from your team. That’s part of coaching. … Y0u cannot be afraid to make some changes. This is how we do our things and we might see those things again (in Game 2).”
Said Vanek: “When things aren’t going well, the coach has to make changes to try to get something started. Not the first time and it probably won’t be the last time.
“You take it as we (as a line) weren’t good enough, I wasn’t good enough. We’re happy with the win, but we know we have to be better as a team, and myself, as well.”
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Video by The Gazette’s Brenda Branswell)