Before taking to the ice for practice at 11 a.m. Friday at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens cut seven players from their roster as they prepare for Saturday’s season opener at the Bell Centre against the Toronto Maple Leafs
Louis Leblanc and Jarred Tinordi, both former first-round draft picks, were sent to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs along with Michael Bournival, Gabriel Dumont, Patrick Holland, Mike Commodore and Frederic St-Denis.
Sticking with the Canadiens is this year’s first-round draft pick Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, a fifth-round pick in 2010 who had 10 goals and 10 assists in 36 games with the Bulldogs this season. Also sticking with the Canadiens is forward Mike Blunden, who scored two goals in Thursday night’s scrimmage at the Bell Centre and has seven goals and seven assists in 36 games with the Bulldogs this season.
There are 24 players still with the team, including Petteri Nokelainen, who is injured. The roster limit is 23.
Goaltender Carey Price did not practise Friday after appearing to injure a groin while making a save during the shootout competition following Thursday’s scrimmage. Price said it wasn’t serious and he would be ready to play against the Leafs.
“Don’t worry, Coach, I’ll be there,” Price told Michel Therrien on Friday.
Therrien said Galchenyuk will definitely be in the lineup Saturday night and that Gallagher might only play if centre Tomas Plekanec’s rib injury hasn’t healed properly.
Galchenyuk called Friday the best day of his life.
“It’s crazy what’s happened to me in the last couple of months,” said Galchenyuk, who is expected to play on the second line with captain Brian Gionta and either Plekanec or Lars Eller. “I started producing really well in Sarnia and then we get the gold medal at the world juniors (with the U.S. team) and now playing here in my first NHL game. I couldn’t be happier.”
Said Therrien: “We’ll give him a good chance and we’ll see. The more we saw of him the more it was clear he would be here on Saturday night.”
For a photo gallery from Friday’s practice, click here.
(Photo by John Kenney/The Gazette)