The Montreal Canadiens received some encouraging news at practice this morning, with Michael Bournival cleared for contact and Carey Price taking part in his first full practice since returning from the Olympics.
Bournival has missed the past nine games with a concussion. The young forward’s speed has been missed on the Habs bottom six, as they continued to roll out lumberjacks Travis Moen, Rene Bourque and George Parros in his absence. Bournival has 13 points this year, his rookie season, in 50 games.
The biggest news coming out of Habs practice this morning was the return of Carey Price to full time practice duties. The Canadiens have gone 3-4-1 in the eight games Price has been on the sidelines, but Peter Budaj continues to look worse and worse each game he plays.
The Habs have allowed 16 goals in the past four games, winning just one in a shootout in Anaheim. The team is desperate to get Price back in the lineup and turn the team’s recent string of bad luck around.
Price was having one of the best seasons of his career before the injury. He is just outside the top ten in goals against average, while posting the sixth best save percentage of .924 and is sixth among all goalies in wins with 26.
It is not yet confirmed when Price will make his return to the Habs crease, but it looks very likely he will be able to play one of the Habs games this weekend against the Ottawa Senators or the Buffalo Sabres.
Michel Therrien mixed up all of the Habs forward lines this morning. He placed newest Habs and leading scorer Thomas Vanek on the top line with David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. The trio have combined for 136 points this season and should be able to continue finding the back of their opponents net.
The duo of Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta was left together, and will get semi-regular running mate Daniel Briere back on the left side. This line was a very capable two way line for the Habs this season, playing big minutes against tough opponents and still finding a way to hit the scoresheet.
The famous EGG line was also reincarnated this morning, which should make most Habs fans happy. The three youngsters, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher and Lars Eller started the year on fire, but cooled considerably and were broken apart. Gallagher found success on a line with Desharnais and Pacioretty, so the EGG line remained cracked until today.
This leaves a physical fourth line of Travis Moen and Dale Weise being centered by Brandon Prust. This will be a tough line for any opponent to lineup against as all three of these veteran players likes to finish their checks.
This lineup puts every single Hab forward in a place to succeed. The top two goal scorers are on the first line and are being centered by the best playmaker on the team. The veteran, two way line with Plekanec in the middle are familiar with each other and have had success already this season. The young EGG line bring a ton of speed and talent and will be excited to show what they can do as a trio. The fourth line is a very typical fourth line, with physical, smart players who can play a shutdown role.
Having everyone in the right role is the key to success in the National Hockey League. It looks like Therrien has finally figured out where each player belongs, and it will not be long before the Habs losing streak is nothing but a distant memory.