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Canadiens Game Day: Carey Price gets third straight start vs. Canucks – Montreal Gazette

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Coach Dominique Ducharme will switch up his lines in Vancouver, putting Brendan Gallagher with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Tyler Toffoli.

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Carey Price will be back in goal when the Canadiens play the Canucks Wednesday night in Vancouver (11 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

This will mark the first time this season that Price will start three consecutive games. Price has allowed only one goal in each of his last three starts and now has a 7-4-4 record with a 2.69 goal-against average and a .903 save percentage.

Head coach Dominique Ducharme will switch up his forward lines for the game, putting Brendan Gallagher with Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Tyler Toffoli, while Joel Armia will take Gallagher’s regular spot on a line with Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar.

“I’m excited, Toffoli said after Wednesday’s optional morning skate about getting Gallagher as a linemate. “Gally’s obviously a great player. He works hard. KK and I have played together for the majority of the season so we’re going to go out there and work hard and try and maintain possession of the puck and just play the right way and do some good things.”

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Toffoli, who leads the Canadiens with 15 goals, said he has been impressed with Kotkaniemi’s work ethic both on and off the ice.

“That’s obviously a positive thing for a young guy coming into the league,” Toffoli said. “I think throughout the season he’s been getting better and better every day. That’s a positive and I’ve said It before, he’s a big part of the team.”

Kotkaniemi has 2-10-12 totals in 24 games and is plus-7 while averaging 14:02 of ice time and winning 47.3 per cent of his faceoffs.

Gallagher has also been impressed by Kotkaniemi’s performance this season.

“I think everyone’s been pretty impressed with how he’s grown as a player all over the ice,” said Gallagher, who has 10-6-16 totals. “The skill and the talent level has always been there. I think he’s added a lot of little details to his game that are helping. He seems to be stronger on the puck, he seems to be winning battles, and when you do all those things the talent takes over. So for me, my job is simple, work hard, make their lives easier, try and put the puck on their stick, get to the net and hopefully as a line we should be able to have some success.

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“I know KK when he has the puck in the middle of the ice he’s very dynamic moving it both sides and creating opportunities for his wingers,” Gallagher added. “I’m obviously looking forward to that. Hopefully the three of us can contribute and just do what we’ve been doing as a team here lately and that’s every line been clicking and you have that accountability within the lineup. It’s going to be on us to play well tonight.”

This Game Day notebook will be updated after Wednesday night’s game.

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The lines

Here’s how the Canadiens’ forward lines and defence pairings are expected to look against the Canucks:

Drouin – Suzuki – Anderson
Toffoli – Kotkaniemi – Gallagher
Tatar – Danault – Armia
Byron – Evans – Perry

Chiarot – Weber
Edmundson – Petry
Kulak – Romanov

Forward Artturi Lehkonen will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game and the fifth time this season. Defenceman Victor Mete, who has only played five games this season, will be a healthy scratch for the 20th time this season.

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Breaking up

Ducharme said he liked the way the Tatar-Danault-Gallagher line played the last few games and noted he can go back to that trio if he needs to.

“I think it’s a matter of making our young centres grow,” the coach said about his line changes. “Combinations and looking at what Armia can bring that is different than Gally. He’s a different player, obviously. When Army’s on his game he’s really strong down low, he protects the puck well. So I think it can be also a very good combination.

“We might see some movement on the right side within games, from one game to another,” Ducharme added. “You guys should expect maybe a little bit of movement on the right side … more than on the left side.”

The reason Ducharme has more options on the right side is because Toffoli is a right-hand shot who can play on either wing.

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“We have a right-shot playing left wing right now, Toffolli,” Ducharme said. “I feel that right side with Gally, Anderson and Armia — and you can add Toffoli — they’re not the same players. They’re really different, they bring something different in their game. They have success differently. So sometimes that’s a feel of what a centre can need more, how can they fit together and within a game how can this impact the situation.”

Gallagher said his regular line with Danault and Tatar hasn’t been as consistent this year as it was the two previous seasons.

“But there’s been nights where we’ve been playing fine and pucks don’t go in, little things like that,” he added. “It’s hard to say that we won’t be back together as well. But I think for the time being for me, just focusing on what you have now and try to make it work with KK and Toff.”

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Gallagher a sparkplug

When Michel Therrien was coaching the Canadiens he liked to juggle his lines regularly and Gallagher moved around the lineup a lot.

During the last two seasons with Claude Julien as head coach, Gallagher was almost always with Danault and Tatar.

“I know personally the way I was used with Michel, he kind of used me around the lineup to spark a guy here or there, help a guy out if he was struggling,” Gallagher said. “With Claude, I think what he found with me, Phil and Tuna, we were just able to be consistent and have success and there was really no reason to split us up. I think right now within our lineup you can try some different things. It’s just kind of the nature of the sport. As players you just got to be ready to do your job when you’re put on the ice regardless of who you’re with and make it work. I think I have a pretty good relationship with every single guy in that room that I’m comfortable playing with them. The battle level will be there for me.

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“I’ve said this, regardless of who I’ve been playing with my game is pretty simple and can translate to whoever I’m playing with and I just try to help the guys I’m playing with and make their lives easier,” Gallagher added. “If I can do that, hopefully as a line we can have success.”

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No changes on defence

Ducharme will stick with the same defence pairings for the seventh straight game since taking over as head coach from Julien.

The coach spoke last weekend about how he wants to let his defence pairs grow together, especially the third pairing of Brett Kulak with rookie Alexander Romanov.

“A guy like Romanov, I think he’s shown some good improvement,” Ducharme said on Saturday. “We got to help him out taking another step and growing. We want to put him in successful situations so that he keeps growing and builds his confidence also and so on. So there’s many things to take in consideration.”

After Wednesday’s morning skate, Ducharme spoke about what he has seen so far from his defence pairings, which include Jeff Petry with Joel Edmundson and Ben Chiarot with Shea Weber.

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“Jeff is skating well and he likes to jump into the offence when it’s time,” the coach said. “Eddie is defending well, he’s hard to play against. Weby and Benn, when we saw them in the playoffs they are hard to play against. They give hard minutes to the forwards on the other side. Romanov and Kulak, those two are skating well. They can be able to jump on both sides. It’s a matter of letting Romy grow and taking it step-by-step. Right now, we feel that’s the way we need to play.”

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Standings getting tight

Heading into Wednesday night’s game, the Canadiens were in fourth place in the North Division standings, only three points ahead of the fifth-place Canucks with the top four teams making the playoffs. The Canadiens do hold five games in hand on Vancouver.

Gallagher said the Canadiens aren’t feeling pressure when they look at the standings.

“No pressure,” he said. “It’s going to get really fun. When you look at the start of the year and you see the way the season was set up with the North Division you knew how competitive it was going to be and no team is going to fall out of it. You can look at the standings, teams are going to be going on winning streaks, losing streaks. Throughout the year it’s going to bounce around. You just got to make sure you’re taking care of your own business.

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“It’s going to get fun,” Gallagher added. “These points are going to be so hard to come by. It’s going to be competitive. I hope the fans are going to enjoy it because I know as players we’re definitely going to.”

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Perry earns his spot

After starting the season on the taxi squad, Corey Perry has earned a regular spot in the lineup and on the power play.

The 35-year-old has 3-5-8 totals in 17 games and is plus-5 while averaging 12:13 of ice time. The only player on the Canadiens averaging less ice time is Jake Evans with 11:40.

“The schedule is something that we consider, for sure, but we like what Corey brings,” Ducharme said when asked about his usage of Perry. “He’s one of the best around the net, whether it’s on the power play or we’ve seen him six-on-five the other night. He’s got experience, he’s a great presence in the locker room, on the bench. His decisions on the ice … the guy went through so many things. He’s won everywhere, so he’s got a lot to bring to our young guys and our group and, like I said, he’s one of the best net-front.”

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  1. Alex Burrows says he was shocked when he got the call from Canadiens GM on Feb. 23 naming him the team's new assistant coach.

    Stu Cowan: New Canadiens assistant coach Alex Burrows a ‘hockey nerd’


  2. Canadiens Notebook: Alex Burrows getting results with Habs’ power play

What’s next?

The Canadiens will fly to Calgary after Wednesday night’s game and play the Flames Thursday night (9 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) and again on Saturday night at the Saddledome (7 p.m., SNE, CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

Next week, the Canadiens will play the Jets in Winnipeg on Monday (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) and Wednesday (9 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM), before returning to Montreal for six straight games at the Bell Centre.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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Rafael Nadal rallies from set down to advance in Barcelona

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Top seed Rafael Nadal rallied from a set back to beat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round at the Barcelona Open in Spain.

Nadal lost serve in the opening game of the match and wasn’t able to break Ivashka’s serve throughout the first set. He won just 70.6 percent of points on his first serve, was broken twice and had two double faults in an uncharacteristically poor showing on service in the opening set.

By the second set, he had righted his serve, winning 86.7 percent of points on his first serve in the second set and 83.3 percent in the third. He didn’t face a break point in either set.

In other action, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 3 Andrey Rublev of Russia, No. 4 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 6 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and No. 10 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada were among those advancing.

No. 9 Fabio Fognini of Italy defaulted for verbal abuse. He was losing 6-0, 4-4 to Zapata Miralles of Spain when the line judge reported him for swearing after a foot fault. He had been warned earlier in the match

Serbia Open

Top seed and home-country favorite Novak Djokovic needed just 68 minutes to top South Korean Soon-woo Kwon 6-1, 6-3 and advance to the quarterfinals in Belgrade, Serbia.

Djokovic capitalized on five of his eight service break opportunities in the win. In the next round, he’ll meet fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, the eighth seed, who needed three sets to oust Arthur Rinderknech of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Also advancing was the No. 2 seed, Matteo Berrettini, who defeated fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-3. Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic beat Nikola Milojevic 6-1, 6-1 in an all-Serb match.

 

(Field Level Media)

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Ice hockey-Women’s world championships cancelled due to COVID-19

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(Reuters) -The women’s ice hockey world championships set to be played in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia have been cancelled because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Canada, Hockey Canada said on Wednesday.

The announcement came one day before the 10 teams were to arrive to begin their quarantine ahead of the May 6-16 tournament.

“This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin,” said International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel in a statement.

“We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”

The IIHF and Hockey Canada were informed by the Nova Scotia provincial government on Wednesday that the 10-country tournament could not go ahead due to safety concerns associated with COVID-19.

Still the news came as a shock after Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer had 24 hours earlier given the event the thumbs- up.

“At five o’clock this morning we were full go and at 7:30 am we were not,” explained Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney. “That is the way the world is right now and there is only so much we can control.

“At the end of the day there is a bigger game than the one we play here and quite honestly it is about the safety of the general public.”

The cancellation was another blow for the women’s game that has endured a number of recent setbacks, including the folding of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

It was also the second consecutive year the Nova Scotia world championships have been stopped by COVID-19.

“Definitely, a little bit of disbelief, a little shock, a lot of emotion,” said Canadian coach Gina Kingsbury, who pulled some players off the ice to deliver the bad news. “This is a group that has been through a lot this past year and two years so they are definitely familiar with disappointing news.”

Both the IIHF and Hockey Canada indicated they plan to play the world championships this year, possibly this summer, in Canada.

“Our intention, and that of the IIHF, is to reconnect with this event as a world championship in 2021 in Canada,” said Renney. “That’s our number one objective. We have every desire to hold this event in Canada.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Nick Foligno hopes to make Leafs debut Thursday vs. Jets

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Former Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno is eyeing Thursday as his potential debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he said on an NHL.com podcast.

The Maple Leafs acquired the left wing on April 11 in a three-team trade with Columbus and the San Jose Sharks, with each team retaining a portion of Foligno’s salary so he can join the North Division leaders for their Stanley Cup pursuit. Toronto visits the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

Because he moved from the U.S. to Canada, Foligno was required to quarantine for seven days before joining his new team for practices and games, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.

“Seven days of just nothing, and then you jump right into it, it would be nice to probably have a practice, but I rather just that — let’s go,” Foligno said on “The Chirp with Darren Millard.” “I’m here to play for them and get this thing rolling, so I probably prefer just to jump right into it and get going.”

If the Leafs put Foligno in their lineup Thursday at Winnipeg, he’ll get to play against his former Columbus teammate, Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Foligno played eight-plus seasons for the Blue Jackets and his first five NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators. In 950 career games, he has tallied 203 goals and 279 assists.

The Maple Leafs sent their 2021 first-round pick and 2022 fourth-rounder to Columbus and their 2021 fourth-rounder to San Jose in order to add Foligno to their stacked group of forwards, which includes NHL goal-scoring leader Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner.

 

Foligno’s father, Mike Foligno, was an NHL veteran who played parts of four seasons for the Leafs

 

(Field Level Media)

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