The Canadiens practised Wednesday morning in Brossard before heading to New York for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference final against the Rangers Thursday night (8 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
After practice, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said that Dustin Tokarski would get his second straight start in goal for Game 3. Tokarski stopped 27 of 30 shots in Game 2, which the Canadiens lost 3-1, after getting the start ahead of Peter Budaj after Carey Price went down with a knee injury in Game 1.
“It goes without saying that Carey is disappointed,” Therrien told reporters in Brossard, with Price sidelined for the rest of the series. “He wanted to be there for his teammates. But there’s nothing we can do.”
The coach added: “We’re in the Eastern Conference Final. It took everyone’s contributions to get here. That’s important to me.”
Price did make the trip to New York with his teammates.
Therrien mixed up his lines at practice Wednesday, putting Alex Galchenyuk with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta, while Thomas Vanek was with Brandon Prust and Daniel Briere with Michael Bournival rotating in on that line.
Vanek had only one shot on goal in the first two games against the Rangers and is minus-3 for the series.
“He’s a veteran, he doesn’t need (a pep talk),” Max Pacioretty told reporters after practice. “He’s contributed to this team’s success in the playoffs, he knows it. We all talk, behind closed doors we’re all having a good time, we all want to help this team win, we all like where we stand now with the team. He’s going to be fine. It seems like there’s always got to be a story when you lose, that’s the story right now. He’s a tremendous player who has helped us a lot in these playoffs and he’ll continue to do that.”
Added captain Brian Gionta about the line changes: “Every day you come here and you’re not sure. It may be different tomorrow. Who knows? It’s just how things work. Obviously, we lost the first two games. We’ve got to do something different. But at the same time we had a pretty good game in Game 2. We’ve just got to find ways to get more goals and get to them a little more offensively.”
You can listen to audio of Therrien’s post-practice press conference by clicking here.
In New York on Wednesday, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was asked how his first NHL coaching job with the Canadiens shaped the rest of his coaching career.
“Well, that could be a really long answer,” Vigneault said. “I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version of it. Montreal is a great place to coach. It’s one of the original six teams, as a coach you have to make sure your team is ready, you’re ready. So I think it brings out the best in people. As we all know, a lot of the attention in Canadian markets on a 24/7 basis is on your team, so it’s a good place to coach and a good place to play.”
Vigneault added that his team should get a boost from the Madison Square Garden crowd in Game 3.
“Well, having fan support is obviously huge at this time of the year,” he said. “Unconditional love, it’s something that’s really beneficial to a team. I mean, it’s so demanding on the ice. They could really help you energy-wise. It’s a fun time. I’m sure it’s fun for them, and it’s definitely fun for us.”
This week’s HI/O Show will be available later this afternoon with Jacques Demers – the last coach to win a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1993 – and Chris Nilan – who was part of the Habs’ 1986 Cup team – joining Gazette sports editor/host Stu Cowan to discuss the Habs-Rangers series.
Here’s how the lines and defence pairings looked at practice:
(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)