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Canadiens Pre Game

Game 34: Cole Caufield Not At Practice, Jordan Harris Returns



Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens (15-13-5) face the Carolina Hurricanes (17-13-4) at the PNC Arena on Thursday night. The puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET.

It is the first game for the Habs since the Christmas break, and they’ll look to maintain a modicum of momentum they built by beating Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on December 22.

That night, there were five different goal scorers: Mitchell Stephens, David Savard, Josh Anderson, Nick Suzuki, and Juraj Slafkovsky.

The former scored his fourth goal of the year and was named the First Star of the Game due to his budding chemistry on the top line with Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

Speaking of Caufield, the 22-year-old winger was not present at practice on Thursday morning. Caufield had to leave the ice after he fell awkwardly against the Blackhawks. He eventually returned to the game, but it would stand to reason his ailment has not improved over the holidays.

There’s been no word as to Caufield’s availability to play on versus the Hurricanes. We will update the lines once more information is available. Johnathan Kovacevic took Caufield’s place on the top line at practice.

Defenceman Jordan Harris is no longer injured and has been removed from the injured reserve. Consequently, the Canadiens re-assigned Emil Heineman to the AHL.

Head coach Martin St-Louis announced goaltender Cayden Primeau will start for the Canadiens.

MUST READ: Canadiens Slafkovsky, Caufield & Suzuki Shine Again Vs. Chicago

As for the Hurricanes, they’re on the second leg of back-to-back games. They beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 on Wednesday thanks to an excellent game from ‘former Canadiens forward’ Sebastian Aho, who had a goal and three assists in the effort.

Despite the win versus Nashville, the Hurricanes continue to search for a goaltender, as they have the third-worst save percentage (0.897) in the NHL.

After a strong start to the season, Jesperi Kotkaniemi has cooled significantly. The (actual) former Canadiens forward has scored nine goals and seven assists, which means he’s on pace for 21 goals and 16 assists for an 82-game pro-rated season.

It’s a good output for a third-line player and a somewhat underwhelming number for a second-line centre.

Regardless, Kotkaniemi has found a home that will provide the type of consistency and slow media coverage to suit his ideal setting. We often forget that the obsession with the Canadiens in Montreal can be a little too much for some to handle. Maintaining strong mental health is important, even for professional hockey players.

In the long run, what matters most is that Kotkaniemi is happy.

Montreal Canadiens Injuries

  • Carey Price (IR)
  • Chris Wideman (IR)
  • Kirby Dach (out indefinitely, ACL/MCL)
  • Rafael Harvey-Pinard (IR)
  • Alex Newhook (out 10-12 weeks)
  • Tanner Pearson (IR)

Carolina Hurricanes Injuries

  • Frederik Andersen (Injured Reserve)

Montreal Canadiens Projected Lineup

Cole CaufieldNick SuzukiJuraj Slafkovsky
Joshua RoyAlex NewhookJosh Anderson
Tanner PearsonJake EvansJoel Armia
Jesse YlonenBrandon GignacBrendan Gallagher
Mike MathesonKaiden Guhle
Jayden StrubleJordan Harris
Arber XhekajDavid Savard
Jake Allen
Cayden Primeau


Carolina Hurricanes Lineup

Svechnikov – Aho – Teravainen

Bunting – Kotkaniemi – Necas

Martinook – Staal – Jarvis

Noesen – Drury – Fast


Slavin – Burns

Skjei – Pesce

Orlov – Chatfield




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Montreal Candiens: TSN 690