The Montreal Canadiens will face their now former teammate Ben Chiarot and the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre on Thursday night. Unfortunately, one of their current teammates, Jonathan Drouin won’t be in the lineup against the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Drouin was not on the ice for the team’s game-day skate in Brossard on Thursday morning and after the skate, Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis confirmed that the Habs winger will not play Thursday night.
“Today he went home because he had contact – I think it’s COVID-related,” St. Louis told the media.
Montreal Canadiens Director of Media Relations Charles Saindon-Courtois then jumped in to confirm that Drouin cannot play after having “close contact” with someone that has COVID.
Jonathan Drouin had just returned to game-action last Saturday after sitting out with a wrist injury for two months. He didn’t register a point in his last two games and has six goals and 14 assists in 34 games this season.
With Drouin out of the lineup, Tyler Pitlick will draw in and make his Montreal Canadiens debut. Since being acquired in the trade that sent winger Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames on Valentine’s Day, Pitlick hasn’t been able to play for the Habs due to an upper-body injury he suffered while playing with the Flames in mid-January. His last NHL game was on Jan. 13.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” Pitlick said after the skate Thursday morning and sitting next to his cousin Rem, who he will get to play with in an NHL game for the first time. “For me, to get back into the lineup after so long and get in a game is huge; kind of get my feet under me and if the plays there, make it, but I’m just going to try and be physical and skate well, good positioning and those types of things because it’s been a while since I’ve been in a game, so for me, that’s what I’m focusing on and the other stuff will take care of itself.”
As of now, Tyler will not skate on the same line as Rem.
“He’s a little more talented than me so. …” joked Tyler.
Rem has six goals and 12 assists in 27 games since being claimed by the Montreal Canadiens from the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 12.
Another Canadiens player that was absent from practice for a second straight day was goalie Carey Price, who remains out with a non-COVID related illness.
After being traded to the Panthers eight days ago, defenceman Ben Chiarot will make his Panthers debut at the Bell Centre Thursday night. Chiarot had visa issues and has remained in Montreal since the trade, meeting his new teammates for the first time on Wednesday night when they arrived for the game tonight.
Newly acquired Panthers forward Claude Giroux will also be making his Panthers debut tonight.
Jake Allen will start for the Canadiens and Spencer Knight gets the nod for the Cats.