BROSSARD — The Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex on Tuesday before departing for Boston to begin a seven-game road trip.
Here are the lines and defense pairings featured at the skate:
|Tuesday, January 11
|68 – Mike Hoffman||14 – Nick Suzuki||62 – Artturi Lehkonen|
|92 – Jonathan Drouin||28 – Christian Dvorak||40 – Joel Armia|
|45 – Laurent Dauphin||25 – Ryan Poehling||22 – Cole Caufield|
|13 – Cedric Paquette||42 – Lukas Vejdemo||55 – Michael Pezzetta|
|73 – Tyler Toffoli (No contact)||17 – Josh Anderson (No contact)|
|8 – Ben Chiarot||58 – David Savard||34 – Jake Allen|
|77 – Brett Kulak||26 – Jeff Petry||35 – Sam Montembeault|
|15 – Sami Niku||20 – Chris Wideman|
|64 – Corey Schueneman|
Winger Tyler Toffoli practiced with the rest of the group for the first time since undergoing hand surgery on December 11.
Toffoli was sporting a no-contact jersey, as was Josh Anderson.
Defenseman Jeff Petry was back at practice after returning from his home in Michigan where he spent the last several weeks in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
Michael Pezzetta was also back after concluding his stint in the COVID-19 protocol.
For his part, winger Brendan Gallagher was still absent as he continues to recover from a lower-body injury.
Who’s in? Who’s out?
The Canadiens’ lineup for Wednesday night’s contest against the Bruins is still a work in progress.
During his post-practice press conference, head coach Dominique Ducharme confirmed that every player on the ice this morning – apart from Toffoli and Anderson – will be available at TD Garden, along with those joining the team in Boston, including forwards Brandon Baddock and Jake Evans, defensemen Alexander Romanov and Louie Belpedio, and goaltender Cayden Primeau, all of whom are exiting the COVID-19 protocol.
But, are some of these players just rejoining the group ready to play? That remains to be seen.
“We’ll skate tomorrow morning and make decisions after that because we have to see what condition each of them is in,” explained Ducharme. “With the guys coming to Boston, they’re all available, but are they in optimal condition to play a game? Maybe not. We need to evaluate that.”
Ducharme also indicated that Gallagher could return to the lineup at some point during the latter stages of the trek, which also includes stops in Chicago (January 13), Glendale (January 17), Dallas (January 18), Las Vegas (January 20), Denver (January 22) and Saint Paul (January 24).
Ducharme on Petry: ‘I like what I saw today’
Ducharme would relish the chance to feature Petry on the blueline in Beantown, but Tuesday marked his first skate in several weeks, so his status is still up in the air.
Nevertheless, it appears that the veteran rearguard didn’t lose a step during his downtime back in the US.
“He’s one of the guys that we’ll make a decision on tomorrow and talk with him to see how he feels, but I like what I saw today. He was moving well, he had some jump in his skating and good energy. That’s how he has success. defensively and offensively,” explained Ducharme. “When Jeff is on his toes, when he’s moving well, he’s closing on guys quick, he’s killing plays quick, he’s making solid plays with the puck, and he’s supporting the attack. For him, it starts with that jump in his skating and playing on his toes. I’m just looking for him to go back to that and build his game from there.”
Montreal has certainly struggled on the road this year, compiling a 2-13-3 record to date in opposition territory.
To say that the next two weeks will be a grind is an understatement, but Ducharme believes his troops will benefit from the experience.
Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Un dernier entra��nement �� la maison avant de s’envoler pour les ��tats-Unis. �� bient��t, Montr��al. 👋Last home practice before flying to the US. See you in a couple of weeks, Montreal.#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/wd87fGxQvK
“We’ll take things one game at a time. We have no choice. These aren’t ideal conditions for players just coming back, but we have no choice except to go day by day. Seven games on the road like this is a challenge, but after a break, it could be a good thing, too,” mentioned Ducharme. “It could bring us together even more since we’ll be spending so much time together. Players can’t really do much right now, so they’ll spend a lot of time together. We want to turn this into a positive and have success. We want to come back with a winning record.”