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Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens corner – Gallagher fined, Norlinder debut, injury update



The Montreal Canadiens returned to the friendly confines of their practice facility in Brossard this afternoon. The Habs picked up just one point out of a possible six on their three-game Original Six road trip, culminating in last night’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers.

Gallagher fined for punch on Goodrow

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety fined Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher $2,500 dollars for roughing New York Rangers forward Barclay Goodrow at the end of last night’s game.

“There was some acting going on there,” said Gallagher about Goodrow’s reaction to getting punched in the face. “I think a lot of players have too much pride to act like that.”

Although there was a punch to the face, Goodrow sold it masterfully. Even peeking out from between the fingers of his gloves to make sure the referees had made the call on the Canadiens forward.

“Obviously I can’t do that, I’m fully aware of that,” admitted Gallagher. “It’s the end of the game and we’re trying to come back. There was a lot of stuff that went into it. Obviously I just took a shot, a little crosscheck to the head. There was 20 seconds left and there’s a lot of stuff that kind of builds into that. I’m aware but I’m also aware that I’ve taken a lot of punches to the face and not folded. There’s a little bit of a sell job going on and it’s fine. That’s what he’s about. But for me, obviously it’s important for me to be better than that and not put myself in that situation.”

The Habs next play the Rangers on December 22nd. Expect some fireworks.

Norlinder debuts

The Montreal Canadiens are 4-12-2. They’re off to their worst start in the 112 year history of the franchise. Fans want to get a look at the future.

They’ll get their wish tomorrow as defenceman Mattias Norlinder will make his NHL debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 2019 third-round pick will skate next to David Savard. Chris Wideman will feel hard done by but he will make way to give the coaching staff a chance to evaluate the 21-year old Swede’s game in the pros.

“Using his vision and skills at the right time,” said head coach Dominique Ducharme about what he expects to see from Norlinder tomorrow. “That means under pressure, keeping things simple. Making sure that without the puck he’s closing quick…I think he’s stronger physically than I thought. So on those 1-on-1’s he’s closing quick, he’s got a good stick. Just little things like that.”

Among the many things the Montreal Canadiens have missed on a power-play that has been putrid for five years or so has been a true quarterback. Norlinder has been just that for Frolunda now and Modo before that. Although he was coy and vague in his response, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him take Wideman’ spot on the first wave of the man advantage.

“Because we think we know what Norlinder can bring on the power-play,” Ducharme told reporters in French about his decision to scratch Wdieman. “Now will he take the place of Wideman on that (first) unit? I won’t confirm that. But for us they’re a similar style of player. We want to see the kid in action. That’s the only way we can really evaluate him.”

Ducharme went on to reference how the team used Erik Gustafsson on the blueline in the playoffs last year. He might be reticent to say it, but it does feel as though Norlinder will be given the reins to the Habs first-wave of the power-play tomorrow night.

Injury update

At this point Ducharme is part head coach, part trauma nurse. Such is the long list of injured Montreal Canadiens out of the lineup to this point. So let’s rattle off all the info now:

  • Carey Price skated on the ice in Brossard a couple of days ago. He’s still only in phase one of the team’s four step plan to get him back into game shape. There is still no definitive timetable for his return. He underwent off-season knee surgery in addition to entering the NHL/NHLPA’s joint player assistance program.
  • Joel Edmundson is expected to join his teammates for the morning skate on Saturday. But Ducharme cautioned that he still won’t be taking contact. He’ll be allowed to test out his lower-body injury and get back to feeling the puck in a practice setting. He’ll be re-evaluated after that.
  • Cedric Paquette skated yesterday. He’s still about a week to 10 days away from returning from his lower-body injury.
  • Mathieu Perreault suffered a setback in his return from an eye injury. He was forced to undergo a second surgery. He’s a few weeks away.
  • The coach didn’t provide an update on Mike Hoffman so his timeline of a week away due to an upper-body injury appears to be on track.
  • No update on Jake Allen either so he remains day-to-day with a concussion.
  • Paul Byron continues to skate in Brossard as he recovers from off-season hip surgery. He’s expected back in late December, early January.
  • Christian Dvorak missed practice today for what the team called a maintenance day.

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