After dropping a 5-4 decision in a shootout against the Buffalo Sabres last night, the Habs are back in action against the Boston Bruins at 7 PM EST. The game features a special match up for P.K. Subban and his younger brother Malcolm Subban, a goaltending prospect for the Bruins. The game will mark the first, of what may be many, meetings between the Subbans.
Defenceman Jarred Tinordi is the only carryover from last night’s contest as 19 different players will suit up for Montreal. The game, which can be watched on RDS or TSN2, will feature eight rookies as the team ices a more veteran lineup than last night.
UFA acquisitions Daniel Briere and Douglas Murray will make their official Bell Centre debuts. Goaltenders Carey Price and Robert Mayer are expected to split time between the pipes. Meanwhile, we’ll get our first glance at Jarome Iginla in a Bruins jersey as the former Calgary Flames’ Captain dresses for his new team.
Pacioretty – Desharnais – Briere
Leblanc – White – Moen
Hudon – Dumont – Thomas
Blunden – Tarnasky – Fournier
Gorges – Subban
Murray – Bouillon
Tinordi – Dietz
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Fraser – Soderberg – Cunningham
Camara – Spooner – Johnson
Paille – Fallstrom – Thornton
Krug – McQuaid
Bartkowski – Trotman
Cross – Miller
As Captain Brian Gionta may not be able to start the season with the Habs as he continues rehabilitation on a torn biceps muscle sustained in last year, there is an interesting battle for his spot in the lineup. Tonight’s roster includes a couple of prospects with the inside track:
Christian Thomas, acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers in exchange for prospect Danny Kristo, has recently been plugged into Gionta’s spot alongside veteran centre Tomas Plekanec and hulking left-winger Rene Bourque. Thomas, at 5’9 and 176lbs, plays a similar game to the feisty Captain and has not looked out of place.
Thomas’ biggest competition comes from forward Louis Leblanc. Leblanc, Montreal’s first round pick in 2009, is a man on a mission. He’s working his way back up the Canadiens’ depth chart in hopes of earning his place in the lineup in what may prove to be a make-or-break season for the 22-year-old.
With neither Plekanec or Bourque dressed for tonight’s tilt against the Bruins, it will be up to Thomas and Leblanc to create chances for themselves.
PROSPECTS TO WATCH
Jarred Tinordi (#24): He looked comfortable in 23:08 minutes of ice time against Buffalo. Not only did the 21-year-old pick up 2 assists, but he fought veteran tough guy Cody McCormick. It will be interesting to see how he fares playing in back-to-back games. With a roster spot on the line, my guess is fans are in a treat for some more hard-nosed hockey.
Christian Thomas (#60): Son of retired NHL’er Steve Thomas, Christian is hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps. Thomas uses decent foot speed and an accurate shot to his advantage. Don’t be surprised if he reminds you of #21.
Louis Leblanc (#71): You may remember him as a regular in the Canadiens lineup during a forgettable 2011-2012 campaign that saw the club finish last place in the Easter Conference. After spending the following season between injury and the Hamilton Bulldogs, Leblanc has been trying to prove his stint in the NHL wasn’t a fluke. Tonight’s game is an opportunity to show management he belongs.
Charles Hudon (#75): Likely headed back to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL, Hudon brings a little bit of everything to the rink. While he’s regarded more for offensive abilities, he’s admitted he’s happy to mix it up with scrappy play that gets under the opponents’ skin.
Nick Tarnasky (#72): This NHL journeyman might find himself roughhousing on several occasions tonight. Bruin enforcer Shawn Thornton is dressed tonight, and it’s a good bet that these forth liners will find some time to dance before the night is over.