Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme is being safe, not sorry with forward Jonathan Drouin.
Despite clearing concussion protocol, Drouin will miss tonight’s game against the New York Islanders. The Habs second leading scorer took some friendly fire off the side of his head just minutes into their 3-0 shutout win over Detroit. He was transported to hospital for precautionary reasons but was back on the ice at practice this morning.
“He got a puck to the head and there’s a bruise there,” Ducharme told reporters after the team’s morning skate. “Skating around and having the helmet on…We want to make sure that it’s not a concussion. Because he’s not 100% it’s not like an elbow or a shoulder or something like that, we want to be careful with (it).”
Drouin was back at centre between Mike Hoffman and Josh Anderson at practice. Ducharme will now be forced into switching up his trios again but wasn’t prepared to divulge how he plans to lineup offensively against New York. Adam Brooks looks set to draw back into the lineup with Cedric Paquette serving the second of a two-game suspension.
Can’t keep a good Tsar down for long
The more interesting news was that Ducharme will voluntarily change a winning lineup. Despite a solid outing in the win against the Red Wings, Sami Niku will sit in favour of Alexander Romanov. The young Russian was a healthy scratch for the first time this season against Detroit.
“We wanted him to take a different look at the game, taking a step back and taking that time,” said Ducharme. “We want to see him back in action right away, apply those things (we spoke to him about) and see how he reacts. We’re confident that taking that time and taking that different look at the game that he gets it.”
The coach is just hoping for some steady play from the 21 year-old. “We’re expecting better,” continued Ducharme. “…on those decisions, to be consistent like that…It’s those things that keep coming back. One game can be all good, perfect. Then sometimes (his play) goes from one shift to another to one period to another. We want to avoid that. We want him to be consistent.”
Although his description of what he wants from Romanov remains vague, the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens does appear to be an admirer of his game. And the intangibles he brings.
“He cares so much,” admitted Ducharme. “…he’s hard on himself too…He’s a great kid but we want to help him out too. He’s got a lot of energy so (it’s just about) focusing on the right things.”
It has been a rollercoaster ride at times for Romanov and it was highlighted by his play this past weekend. After scoring his first goal of the season and dishing out several punishing hits in the win against San Jose, he had a largely anonymous game against Anaheim before being beat up the ice for the eventual game-winner against Anaheim.
He’ll have another chance to try to impress his boss tonight. He’s expected to play next to Chris Wideman against the Islanders.
Lavished in Laval
With Ryan Poehling and Jesse Ylonen scoring this past weekend, Laval Rocket fans will be spoiled on the weekend. Cole Caufield is set to make his AHL season debut tomorrow night at Place Bell against the Syracuse Crunch after getting sent down earlier this week.
Now, Mattias Norlinder looks set to make his AHL debut. The Montreal Canadiens announced that the Swedish defenceman has been loaned to the Rocket on a conditioning stint. Norlinder returned to full practice this week after suffering a lower-body injury in training camp. Ducharme teased earlier this week and today that there may be a plan in place to have him suit up for the Habs at some point.
Per the 21 year-old’s contract, his stay in Laval won’t be for long. Norlinder has to either play for the big club or be sent back to Frolunda in the SHL. He is allowed to be loaned to the Rocket solely to work his way back from his injury.