Therrien shuffles lines; Budaj will face Sabres with new contract

Coming off Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien shuffled his lines at practice Wednesday morning in Brossard and announced that Peter Budaj will start in goal against the Sabres Thursday night in Buffalo (7:30 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin also announced that Budaj has been signed to a two-year contract extension that will take him through the 2014-15 season. Budaj, who is earning a pro-rated $1.2 million during the lockout-shortened season, will get a slight raise to $1.4 million on the two-year, $2.8-million extension.

In eight games this season, the 30-year-old Budaj has a 6-1-1 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and .917 save percentage with one shutout. He joined the Canadiens as a free agent on July 1, 2011.

Rene Bourque, who started Tuesday’s game on the fourth line, was bumped up to join Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta at practice Wednesday, while Michael Ryder was with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk. The David Desharnais-Max Pacioretty-Brendan Gallagher line was kept intact, while Brandon Prust dropped down to the fourth line with Travis Moen and Jeff Halpern.

The defence pairings were: Josh Gorges-P.K. Subban; Andrei Markov-Francis Bouillon; Nathan Beaulieu-Davis Drewiske; Tomas Kaberle-Yannick Weber.

“We tried something with Bourque yesterday by putting him with Pleky and Gio and we’ll continue with the same lines,” Therrien told reporters after practice.

Below is the video interview The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs did with Therrien before the start of the strike-shortened season:

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Neuvirth continues dominance over Habs, by Pat Hickey

Red-hot Caps block 34 Canadiens shots, by Pat Hickey

Ovechkin more dangerous from right side, by Dave Stubbs

Capitals add more confidence to their coffers, by Washington Post

Ovechkin stays hot for Capitals, nhl.com

All’s right with Ovechkin, with an assist from Oates, si.com

Canadiens vs. Capitals photo gallery

Habs’ Stanley Cup odds improving, by Stu Cowan

Fight continues to save TSN Radio 690, by Stu Cowan

1,017 Comments

  1. khargrave says:

    Hello
    I have been a long time reader and have never bothered to write but I think some of these arguments are just horrible. I expect these things from Leaf fans(especially from Woodbridge).
    So many arguments are based on today rather than the whole picture. In the case of DD Vs. Eller. Therien is playing them where he sees them doing their best and how to help the team best. I think Eller will be a much more important player to the Habs than DD will be but for now he is needed in more of a two way role. Eller is only 23 and is just coming in to his own.
    For those who think we got the shaft in that trade just like at where Halak is now, he is not a dominant starter and is being surplanted by a rookie. Eller just keeps getting better and still is very young and will get better. While Price has played very well and is also very young and getting better. Price has the ability to play 70 games a year where as Halak doesn’t seem to have it. So to have Price grow and getting Eller is better than having traded Price when his stock was lower than Halak, we would have gotten even less at that point.
    I think Therien and MB have earned the right to not be second guessed by arm chair coaches. Even if they don’t go far in the playoffs this year it will still be great experience for the young kids who are only getting better. This team has a lot of potential at all positions. Price is going to keep getting better. Subban, Tinordi, Beaulieu, Emelin are going to be a strong defense. Max Pac, Gallagher, Galchenyuk, Eller are all looking strong and all very young still, plus Kristo and other prospects they have make this a strong team for years to come. They only have a couple of positions to upgrade which can happen in the summer without giving up on the future of this team.
    Also you can’t say that the Kings of last year are better than the Habs of this year so yes we still have a shot at the cup.

  2. ed says:

    comparing Plekanec offensive production vs Desharnais offensive production (just to stir the crap a bit more)

    Keep in mind Plekanec makes 5 million per season and Desharnais is making 950,000 for this year, and 3.5 million next year.

    Plekanec has 28 points this season; 14 even strength and 14 on the power play

    Desharnais has 22 points this season; 17 even strength and 5 on the power play.

    Both play equal time on the power play. about 2:45 per game.

    So offensively, we can NOT conclude that Plekanec is having a great season and Desharnais sticks this year- not by a long shot.

    We can simply conclude that Plekanec has been on the ice for more effective power play.

    5 on 5 Desharnais has been slight ly more productive than Plekanec.

    • jedimyrmidon says:

      Let’s say for argument’s sake that hockey is broken down into two aspects: offense and defense.

      Pleks outclasses DD defensively against much superior competition to such a degree it isn’t funny. In fact, every single forward line on the Habs is better defensively than the exploitation line (Max-DD-Gally) with DD especially being incapable of backchecking or playing effectively in his own zone. Gally is a 20 yr old rookie so he gets a lot more leeway.

  3. ont fan says:

    I’m sure M.B. didn’t sign Cole, DD or Moen to trade them, but trades do come up. There probably is a grand plan, that the wise men in the upper echelon are hatching, without our assistance.

    • Loonie says:

      Bergevin didn’t sign Cole.

      :)

    • Luke says:

      Everybody gets signed to provide service, not to be traded (not yet at least… more on that later).
      What needs to be understood is that a player can/will/should be traded at a point when moving that player will benefit the team.

      DD’s contract at 3.5m/season is exceptionally reasonable when you have players of similar stature and production making 4-5.5m (Roy, Grabovski). I do not think moving him, should it become necessary, will be hamstrung by that contract.

      Montreal has 3 decent centres + Galchenyuk.
      Who plays where for how many minutes is really irrelevant if the team is successful. To this point, they have been exceptionally successful.
      Would they be more successful if Eller was getting the ‘choice starts’ in place of DD? Maybe… maybe not… obviously it’s just guesswork at this point.
      One consideration must be that Eller’s role needs to now be assigned to DD. That means putting DD out in more defensive situations. I don’t think many would say they provide equal value defensively.
      That said… if a line isn’t working, a little experimentation is not a bad thing. We are seeing Ryder with Galch and Eller so I would suspect that is probably the top offensive line. Just because they write it third on the whiteboard doesn’t mean it’s the third option.

      Personally i think it is really just something for people to discuss on message boards.

      Re: Signed to be traded: With the new CBA allowing a team to resign a player for 1yr longer then a new team signing a player, the sign-and-trade becomes a hockey option now.

  4. The Dude says:

    Wow …the same pooh disturbers that drama queened a controversy between Price and Halak ‘which led to the trading of Halak and the OVERPAYMENT for Price’s services a la Bobby Lou’ are now trying to start a Eller vs DD controversy? Maybe these Hookers with PHD’s should root for Toronto cause they print like Laff fans!

  5. Ian Cobb says:

    We will find out tonight if the boys really believe and are hungrier than the Sabers for the two points tonight.
    They have beaten us the last two games that we have played them.
    They have large D and it is difficult to get in behind them without great effort. And behind them is Miller.
    Speed, discipline and tenacity will carry the day!!

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    • TommyB says:

      I can’t help looking beyond the Sabres. It’s the game against the Leafs that interests me. I can’t see the top 5 teams in the conference changing positions, unless the Bruins take a tumble, and I don’t see that happening. So, it appears that we are destined for a Habs/Leafs matchup to open the playoffs. Any Habs fan who does not have just a bit of concern with that macthup must have nerves of iron.

      Tonight we have a rare weeknight Hockey Night In Canada broadcast. How weird is that? Habs and Sabres on HNIC on a weeknight? How much you wanna bet most of the talk centres around the Leafs, who don’t even play tonight? Think I better make a beer run this afternoon.

      • arcosenate says:

        LOL, does that mean we get Cole tonight and Hughson on Saturday? Hughson ain’t as hard to take.

        • TommyB says:

          Cole, Hughson,…Maclean, Cherry, P.J., Healey, the list goes on. Sure, I could change the channel and watch RDS, but there’s something oddly humourous and entertaining about watching the circus.

    • arcosenate says:

      Washington was definitely a playoff style game. It’s going to be interesting what Buffalo brings tonight, loosey-goosey or will they be grinding it out? In any case, I expect a much better effort than against Washington, especially in the first 8 minutes.

      They need to come out flying like they have done all year, and yes, speed and tenacity and a little desperation will help…

  6. The Jackal says:

    Just walked into a DD vs. Eller debate – HIO’s new Price vs. Halak.
    It’s funny how we take argue these almost as court cases, when in the reality the players just play hockey, form part of the team with their different strengths and weaknesses, and enjoy the challenge.

    Now, is this really a debate, or just personal preference of players?
    DD was great last year and is still on pace for about 50 points prorated for a full season – not bad for his cap hit or expectations. Eller has been great this season, and will hopefully continue to get better.

    As we know, there will be a bit of jam at centre, so here we are speculating as to who gets the boot. DD or Eller? Well, some say DD will never be traded, but that’s just speculation. Any player can be moved, and if Eller is miles ahead of DD, I doubt that MB would move Eller. Some think that DD gets to stay because he is French. I have not heard dumber argument! DD is where he is because he has proven himself. Should he fail to live up to his expectations and potential then he will not be playing his top minutes.

    Some ask why DD continues to play despite his lacklustre performance so far. Well, coaches and players are much more knowledgeable and patient than us observers. They know what DD can do and don’t see him as being a detriment to the team. There is faith in DD, as there should be. Who’s opinion on the matter would you take – Max Pac’s, or a fan’s?

    As for Eller. Personally, I think he will be great, and I hope he sticks with the team over DD in the event that it comes down to one of these two players. But I still think some here are quick to turn on DD. Eller also makes mistakes and misses chances – it happens. It’s best to allow the hockey staff to make those choices and to criticize even-handedly instead of blindly – DD is not going the way of Gomez, nor should he be replaced like Gomez was. Shuffle lines/wingers, yes, but DD is not the only forward who has to pick it up!

    In the end, one may have to go, but it is purely speculative to say who it will be at this point. Both players contribute for us, obviously the team likes them and they compliment their weaknesses in other areas. Let’s not let this one turn into Halak vs. Price.

    ______________________
    Hockey sine stercore tauri.

  7. The Jackal says:

    Just walked into a DD vs. Eller debate – HIO’s new Price vs. Halak.
    It’s funny how we take argue these almost as court cases, when in the reality the players just play hockey, form part of the team with their different strengths and weaknesses, and enjoy the challenge.

    Now, is this really a debate, or just personal preference of players?
    DD was great last year and is still on pace for about 50 points prorated for a full season – not bad for his cap hit or expectations. Eller has been great this season, and will hopefully continue to get better.

    As we know, there will be a bit of jam at centre, so here we are speculating as to who gets the boot. DD or Eller? Well, some say DD will never be traded, but that’s just speculation. Any player can be moved, and if Eller is miles ahead of DD, I doubt that MB would move Eller. Some think that DD gets to stay because he is French. I have not heard dumber argument! DD is where he is because he has proven himself. Should he fail to live up to his expectations and potential then he will not be playing his top minutes.

    Some ask why DD continues to play despite his lacklustre performance so far. Well, coaches and players are much more knowledgeable and patient than us observers. They know what DD can do and don’t see him as being a detriment to the team. There is faith in DD, as there should be. Who’s opinion on the matter would you take – Max Pac’s, or a fan’s?

    As for Eller. Personally, I think he will be great, and I hope he sticks with the team over DD in the event that it comes down to one of these two players. But I still think some here are quick to turn on DD. Eller also makes mistakes and misses chances – it happens. It’s best to allow the hockey staff to make those choices and to criticize even-handedly instead of blindly – DD is not going the way of Gomez, nor should he be replaced like Gomez was. Shuffle lines/wingers, yes, but DD is not the only forward who has to pick it up!

    In the end, one may have to go, but it is purely speculative to say who it will be at this point. Both players contribute for us, obviously the team likes them and they compliment their weaknesses in other areas. Let’s not let this one turn into Halak vs. Price.

    ______________________
    Hockey sine stercore tauri.

  8. aj says:

    @ Danno: “The Ellerians vs the Desharnites?” – you make is sound like there’s an ethnic war going on. Kinda like the “the Pricites vs the Halakites.”

    I use to remember back with Lapierre vs Pouliot, then Pouliot vs Latendresse. IMO, so what! As long both Eller and DD score and make this team win the Stanley Cup, that’s what matters.

  9. Also saw the interview with Jacques Demers, who I have great respect for if you watch the whole thing. Winning the Cup isn’t as much about skill, stars and salaries vs. buy-in, having fun, hard work and belief which is something this team has in boatloads over last year.

    Yet, I don’t feel we are there yet, with those second period collapses and quick 2-3 goals against that we’ve suffered on a number of occasions this year. Tenacity, effort, belief are all a major part of winning anything and it seems we have one line on, one line off each night.

    I’ve been surprised at times at how tough this team has been this year. How resilient at times. Yet, then there are games (and I’ve been at some like the 6-3 loss at the Islanders) that bring my euphoria about this edition of the team back down to earth. That’s fine, since I didn’t see them in the playoffs this year, but I don’t want to get excited about a Cup run, when I know there is still work to do in this shortened season.

    In an 82 game season, we may very well have seen a collapse and then resurgence as most teams are afflicted with during a full season. Depth is important, but so is the resilience of guys like Max who come back after surgery in a week.

    As for why the team doesn’t seem to be firing on all pistons at the moment (in my opinion) playing at or near 50/50, they may be running out of steam. These last 9 games will tell a lot about this team and hopefully, we’ll finish strong like Washington, the Islanders, Anaheim, Vancouver and a few others. They deserve it as it’s been a long journey back from 15th (still would like to finish higher than third!)

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  10. The Jackal says:

    Just walked into a DD vs. Eller debate – HIO’s new Price vs. Halak.
    It’s funny how we take argue these almost as court cases, when in the reality the players just play hockey, form part of the team with their different strengths and weaknesses, and enjoy the challenge.

    Now, is this really a debate, or just personal preference of players?
    DD was great last year and is still on pace for about 50 points prorated for a full season – not bad for his cap hit or expectations. Eller has been great this season, and will hopefully continue to get better.

    As we know, there will be a bit of jam at centre, so here we are speculating as to who gets the boot. DD or Eller? Well, some say DD will never be traded, but that’s just speculation. Any player can be moved, and if Eller is miles ahead of DD, I doubt that MB would move Eller. Some think that DD gets to stay because he is French. I have not heard dumber argument! DD is where he is because he has proven himself. Should he fail to live up to his expectations and potential then he will not be playing his top minutes.

    Some ask why DD continues to play despite his lacklustre performance so far. Well, coaches and players are much more knowledgeable and patient than us observers. They know what DD can do and don’t see him as being a detriment to the team. There is faith in DD, as there should be. Who’s opinion on the matter would you take – Max Pac’s, or a fan’s?

    As for Eller. Personally, I think he will be great, and I hope he sticks with the team over DD in the event that it comes down to one of these two players. But I still think some here are quick to turn on DD. Eller also makes mistakes and misses chances – it happens. It’s best to allow the hockey staff to make those choices and to criticize even-handedly instead of blindly – DD is not going the way of Gomez, nor should he be replaced like Gomez was. Shuffle lines/wingers, yes, but DD is not the only forward who has to pick it up!

    In the end, one may have to go, but it is purely speculative to say who it will be at this point. Both players contribute for us, obviously the team likes them and they compliment their weaknesses in other areas. Let’s not let this one turn into Halak vs. Price.

    ______________________
    Hockey sine stercore tauri.


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