The Canadiens clinched a playoff spot Tuesday night despite losing 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning and were rewarded with a day off Wednesday in Florida.
Meanwhile, Canadiens defenceman Douglas Murray learned he will have a telephone disciplinary hearing with the NHL at 11 a.m. Thursday for an elbow to the head of Mike Kostka that knocked the Lightning defenceman out. The Lightning announced Wednesday that Kostka has been diagnosed with a concussion and that there is no timetable for his return.
“One of the worst I’ve seen live,” the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos told Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times about Murray’s hit. “He’s a clean, honest player, but that particular play was dirty.”
The Canadiens were originally scheduled to return to Montreal after Tuesday’s game, but team management and the coaching staff decided to give the players a day off in the Florida sunshine. The club is staying at the Innisbrook Resort in Tarpon Springs, which is considered the premier golf destination on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Earlier on this road trip, the Canadiens enjoyed another day off at a beachfront Marriott resort in Fort Lauderdale.
“It’s a demanding schedule,” coach Michel Therrien told The Gazette’s Pat Hickey about the days off. “We have to play X amount of games in a short period and it’s important we approach games with a lot of energy. But I have to see that we get the energy and it’s important to be well-rested.
“We play a demanding style,” the coach added. “I always believe we’re a four-line team and that allows us to play at a fast pace. We have to manage that.”
The new collective bargaining agreement mandates four days off each month, but Therrien has been generous in giving his players days off this season, along with optional skates.
“We absolutely like the way Michel handles the time,” goaltender Carey Price said. “The seasons are long. In hindsight, we’re not working 9-to-5, but we’re putting in a pretty physical 4-to-5. Over the course of the season, it’s not just the physical, but it’s more the mental toll. It’s good to get those days off.”
The Canadiens will practise Thursday in Florida before flying to Ottawa, where they will face the Senators Friday night (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690). The Detroit Red Wings will visit the Bell Centre Saturday night.
(Photo by Chris O’Meara/The Associated Press)