Canadiens’ rookie Jordan Harris made a healthy scratch against Devils

“You can learn a lot from watching,” coach Martin St. Louis says. “So I hope he takes the assignment — I guess, sort of speak — seriously.”

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NEWARK, NJ — Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis decided to make rookie defenseman Jordan Harris a healthy scratch for Thursday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.

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St. Louis said Harris didn’t do anything wrong in his first two games with the Canadiens after his NCAA career with Northeastern University came to an end. The coach just wanted the 21-year-old defenseman to watch a game from the press box.

Justin Barron, another rookie defenseman, will also be out of the lineup against the Devils because he stayed back in Montreal after suffering a lower-body injury in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Center. With Barron and Harris out of the lineup, Chris Wideman and Kale Clague will get in. Wideman was a healthy scratch for the previous two games, while Clague missed 13 games with an upper-body injury.

Tyler Pitlick will replace injured forward Paul Byron in the lineup, while Jake Allen will start in goal for the Canadiens.

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“Wides did not come out of the lineup because he was playing poorly,” St. Louis said when he met with the media a couple of hours before Thursday night’s game. “Jordan’s not coming out of the lineup because he’s playing poorly. We have a lot of guys here that need to touch the ice in game action.

“But you can take this opportunity for Jordan to look back on his two games and now watch a game after playing a couple and look and see himself in certain situations that happen on the ice and he might think of it differently after playing two games, ” the coach added. “How he thought he would manage those situations prior to those two games and from him watching tonight maybe how he would handle those situations. I think he’ll benefit from that. You can learn a lot from watching. So I hope he takes the assignment — I guess, sort of speak — seriously because I think it’s going to prepare him even better for the next game.”

The Canadiens’ next game is Saturday in Toronto (7 pm, CBC, SNE, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

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Harris had no points in his first two games with the Canadiens and was plus-2 while averaging 16:56 of ice time.

Heading into Thursday night’s game, the Canadiens had an 11-10-4 record since St. Louis took over from Dominique Ducharme as head coach.

St. Louis had never coached above the youth level in Connecticut with his three sons before being hired by the Canadiens. He was asked before facing the Devils what the key has been for him getting acclimated to his new job and everything that comes with it.

“I think the key, more importantly, is understanding that I don’t know it all and I don’t have all the answers,” he said. “But one thing that’s helped me tremendously is my assistant coaches and the fact that we’re willing to work. Because a lot of work that goes into coaching to find the answers… it’s not about having them all quick. It’s about reflecting a little bit and watching because there’s a lot of answers out there, but it’s trying to figure out what’s the most important thing to attack and what answers are we looking for. I think my assistant coaches have been a big key for me.”

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What has been the biggest surprise for St. Louis in his new job?

“I think it’s managing the roster, sort of speak,” he said. “I guess in the situation we’re in this year, I think I have 16 forwards — maybe 17 — and nine, 10 defensemen. It’s a lot of guys that are not jumping in the games every night and managing that can be challenging, but it’s important to take it seriously because the players like to know where they stand.

“Sometimes they might not like where they stand based on what you’re saying to them, but those conversations are real important. So I feel like that’s probably been the hardest thing to do is managing a big roster to make sure that the guys are in a good mind frame and have some honesty to those conversations. But I’m sure I’m not the first guy that has to go through that and I think it’s teaching me a lot early on how to manage players.”

St. Louis is still learning as a rookie head coach, just like Harris is learning as a rookie defenseman.

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