Game Day Notebook: First game since January 1 when the Habs visit the Bruins

The Canadians claim 24-year-old center Rem Pitlick from Minnesota Wild waivers.

Article content

The Canadiens will play their first game since Jan. 1 when they face the Bruins on Wednesday night in Boston. (7 pm, SN, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

The Canadiens had 16 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list when they lost 5-2 to the Panthers on New Year’s Day in Florida and were forced to play with just 18 players instead of the regular 20. The Canadiens will have a full lineup against the Bruins after the number of players they had on the COVID-19 protocol list hit 24 during their break in the schedule.

Jake Evans, Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson were on the fifth row in Wednesday’s morning skate and won’t be in the lineup against the Bruins.

Evans was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list on Dec. 31, along with Alexander Romanov, and they quarantined in Florida before rejoining teammates in Boston. Toffoli is still recovering from hand surgery, while Anderson is recovering from an upper body injury.

Romanov will also not be in the lineup against the Bruins.

Jake Allen, who came off the COVID-19 protocol list, will make his first start in goal for the Canadiens since Dec. 14. He is 5-15-2 with a 3.10 goals-against average and a .903 save. percentage.

Linus Ullmark will start in goal for the Bruins. He is 11-5-0 with a 2.57 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.

Evans was the first player to step onto the ice for the Canadiens’ morning skate on Wednesday.

“I didn’t know how I was going to feel, so I thought I’d leave early so I wouldn’t make a fool of myself in practice on the ice,” he said. “But I felt pretty good. The lungs felt fine and the hands were as good as ever. It was nice to go back and get back to everyone and be able to socialize with a few more guys and just get back to a normal life.”

Evans said he was not allowed to leave his Florida hotel room for the first six or seven days after testing positive for COVID-19.

“That was really tough,” he said. “You can only watch so much TV and you can only call so many people.”

Evans added that it was, however, a nice little mental break from hockey.

“You get a little bit of fresh air as the days go by and there’s not much to do other than exercise and enjoy the weather,” he said of his time in Florida. “I’m very happy to be back now.”

Head coach Dominique Ducharme said that after spending so many days off the ice in Florida, it’s also unlikely Evans or Romanov will play Thursday night when the Canadiens take on the Blackhawks in Chicago.

“I totally make the call on that,” Evans said. “I would love to play, I would love to go out again. I feel like even over the Christmas break I was getting my groove back and excited to play and all that and then COVID hit. It’s nice to be back with the boys, enjoying the team. Whenever Dom wants to put me on, I’ll be ready.”


Article content

Canadians collect Pitlick

The Canadiens claimed center Rem Pitlick from waivers Wednesday from the Minnesota Wild.

The 24-year-old Ottawa native was 6-5-11 in 20 games this season with the Wild. The Nashville Predators selected the 5-foot-11, 196-pound player in the third round (76th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft. In 31 career NHL games, Pitlick is 6-7-13.

Pitlick’s brother, Rhett, was selected by the Canadiens in the fifth round (131st overall) of the 2019 NHL Draft. Rhett, a 20-year-old left wing, is 0-7-7 in 15 games this season. season with the University of Minnesota.

Rem played three seasons at the University of Minnesota, posting totals of 21-24-45 in 38 games during his senior year there.

We’re sorry, but this video could not be loaded.


Article content

Hoffman returns

After coming off the COVID-19 protocol list, Mike Hoffman will play his first game for the Canadiens since Dec. 16, starting on the front row with Nick Suzuki and Arturri Lehkonen.

“It’s going to be a good test,” said Hoffman, who is 4-4-8 in 19 games. “They have a good hockey club. We’ve been away for a while, but the energy seems great inside the room with the guys. Everyone is excited to come back and start playing again.

“You want to start building something,” added Hoffman. “Looking to the future and this is our job, so the job is not done yet. We have to go out there and race as hard as we can every night and hopefully take a few steps in the right direction. … I think everyone has come back from this with a fresh mindset and a lot of emotion. The boys are looking forward to coming back. We’ve never really had such a long hiatus in a previous season, so it’s not that easy to deal with. But the level of excitement is there and we can’t wait to get back and start playing again.”


Article content

Bruins on a roll

The Bruins (19-11-2) are on a two-game winning streak and are 7-3 in their last 10 games.

The Canadiens (7-23-4) are winless in their last three games (0-2-1), are 1-7-2 in their last 10 and are 2-13-3 on the road .

“I think it’s being able to be consistent,” Ducharme said of the challenge his team faces. “Being able to compete for 60 minutes, not only physically but mentally. You get into that groove at a point when you play a lot and you’re successful and you play well, then you build momentum. We have been away for a while, we have faced many challenges since the beginning of the season. We haven’t built that momentum. But having our guys refreshed, mentally and physically, the biggest challenge is being able to keep the game going for 60 minutes. Be constant, do everything we want to do.


Article content

“So that’s the biggest challenge tonight,” added the coach. “We don’t want to be at a point where we’re breaking down: 10 minutes, five minutes, that’s where those guys can make a difference.”

This will be the second game this season between these two teams. The Bruins beat the Canadiens 5-2 in Boston on November 14. The Bruins outscored the Canadiens 41-29 in that game with Sam Montembeault stopping 36 of the 40 shots he faced. Boston’s final goal was an empty net.

It’s interesting to note that the Bruins have 13 former first-round picks on their roster: Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Nick Foligno, Derek Forbert, Trent Frederic, Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar, Charlie McAvoy, John Moore, David Pastrnak, Tuukka. Rask, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jakub Zboril.


Article content

The lines

Here’s what the Canadiens’ forward lines and defense pairings looked like in Wednesday’s morning skate:

Paquette – Vejdemo – Pezzetta

Niku – Wide Man


Article content

Whats Next?

The Canadiens will fly to Chicago after Wednesday night’s game and play the Blackhawks on Thursday (8:30 pm, TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

The Canadiens were scheduled to play the New Jersey Devils on Saturday at the Bell Center, but that’s one of five home games this month that the NHL has postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions in Quebec that don’t allow fans in the sand. As a result, Wednesday’s game will be the first of seven straight away from home for the Canadiens.

Next week, the Canadiens will play the Arizona Coyotes on Monday (4 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM), the Dallas Stars on Tuesday (8:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM ), Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday (10 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) and Colorado Avalanche on Saturday (7 p.m., SNE, CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

[email protected]



Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civilized discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their opinions on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to moderate before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications – you will now receive an email if you receive a response to your comment, there is an update in a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Leave a Comment