The Montreal Canadiens will look to close out their three-game road trip with a win when they face the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup Champion Lightning in Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
The Canadiens are 0-2-0 on this southern swing having lost 7-4 to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night and then losing 4-0 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
Montreal Canadiens rookie defenceman Justin Barron made his Canadiens debut last Sunday and has played in the two games since. On Saturday, another Habs rookie defenceman, the highly touted and former Northeaster star rearguard Jordan Harris, will make his NHL debut a week after signing a two-entry-level contract with the team.
If Northeastern athletic director Jim Madigan is correct in his scouting report he gave to MHN puck scribe Marco D’Amico, then the Montreal Canadiens have a smart, calm, puck-moving defenseman entering the fold here.
“He’s going to be a puck-moving defenceman. He’ll help a great deal with defensive zone breakouts, he’s going to help in transition and when in the offensive zone, he’s going to contribute to the generation of offence,” Madigan said of Harris to D’Amico recently. “He’s got the skillset to be a real good puck-moving defenceman.”
Harris will replace defenceman Chris Wideman in the lineup and Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis indicated after the game day skate Saturday morning that the hope is to have him paired with a veteran like David Savard or Joel Edmundson, but he didn’t rule out some time for Harris being paired up with 22-year-old Alexander Romanov whom he considers having enough experience to help mentor the young 21-year-old Harris.
“We try to surround them with experienced guys and there’s moment in a game that allows you to do that better, and there’s moments in the game where that’s hard to do,” St. Louis pointed out. “Whether some of those veteran guys take penalties or maybe they’ve been on the ice for a long time. Sometimes you might be exposed having two young guys but that’s part of their growth and you gotta manage the situations as they come, but in a perfect world, we’d like to have veteran guys with those guys.”
Here’s an educated guess at what the blue line could look like to start the game in Tampa on Saturday:
Jordan Harris – David Savard
Joel Edmundson – Justin Barron
Alexander Romanov – Corey Schueneman
Montreal Canadiens goalie Jake Allen will be behind that blue line as he gets the starting nod tonight.
There was some also some news back in Montreal as goalie Carey Price skated for a second straight day. With a potential Price return still a possibility, NHL trade speculation surrounding the Montreal Canadiens netminder has begun to ramp up.
“If Price comes back and plays, then I think there’s a chance that he’s playing somewhere else next season,” Sportsnet Insider Elliotte Friedman speculated in the most recent 32 Thoughts podcast.