After enjoying a day off Sunday, the Canadiens were back on the ice Monday morning in Brossard for a practice as they prepare for the final week of the regular season.
Three of the top six defencemen were missing, however, as Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin and P.K. Subban all took therapy days. Defenceman Josh Gorges, who has been sidelined since early March with a broken hand, did take part in the practice and was wearing a regular sweater, as was forward Dale Weise, who has been out since March 24 with an upper-body injury.
Gorges, who says he has full strength in his hand, and Weise have both been cleared for contact and are hoping to return to the lineup Wednesday night in Chicago when the Canadiens face the Blackhawks.
“The guys played unbelievable hockey these couple of weeks,” Gorges told reporters after practice. “Watching the games, you see the commitment to detail and the perseverance. We know about our talent level, but to see our team compete the way it does, give up leads but then come back and stay resilient. It’s great.”
Said Weise: “We’ll see how the injury responds tomorrow and determine what the plan is. I’ve been skating for the past week and a half so my conditioning level is good. All I need now is to get some game action under my belt and to work the kinks out before the playoffs.”
The NHL announced on Monday that the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty has been named the league’s third star of the week after scoring four goals and adding two assists in three games last week. The Edmonton Oilers’ Taylor Hall was named the first star after picking up nine points in four games, while Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov was the second star after posting a 3-0-1 record with a 1.42 goals-against average, a .950 save percentage and one shutout.
The Canadiens have three games remaining in the regular season. After visiting the Blackhawks Wednesday night, they play home games against the New York Islanders on Thursday and the New York Rangers on Saturday.
The Canadiens are four points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the battle for second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Any combination of Montreal wins and Tampa losses adding up to two during the final week of the season will give the Canadiens home-ice advantage when the playoff start next week.
The Lightning has four games remaining. Tampa plays host to Toronto Tuesday, then has home games against Philadelphia and Columbus before wrapping up the season Sunday in Washington.
Here’s how the lines and defence pairings looked at Monday’s practice:
(Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)