The Canadiens and evenko join forces to benefit Héma-Québec

The Canadiens and evenko join forces to benefit Héma-Québec
Canadiens Notebook: Shea Weber ready to make his season debut
BROSSARD – Heres a look at the forward lines and defense pairings featured at Mondays practice at the Bell Sports Complex.

Drouin – Domi – ShawTatar – Danault – GallagherHudon – Kotkaniemi – LehkonenAgostino – Chaput – DeslauriersByron – Peca – Scherbak

Paired with David Schlemko during practice ahead of Tuesday nights game against Carolina, while Karl Alzner gets placed on waivers.

“Hes the captain of our team, and Ive never actually had an opportunity to play with him so I can only imagine how much fun thats going to be because I know how much it sucks to play against him,” Domi said. “Ive experienced that first-hand a couple of times and even when you just walk into the room as the away team and you look at the other teams roster and you see that No. 6 with the Weber underneath it, and youre like, Oh God, here we go. Its going to be a tough night.

Canadiens captain Shea Weber lights flame during season opener at the Bell Centre in Montreal against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 11, 2018. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

“Having him back there on your team, knowing that hes going to get you the puck, knowing that you have the confidence in him and then obviously [Carey] Price as well – two veteran guys that are the backbone of this team. I think for a young group, its going to help us out a lot and just instill confidence in us from top to bottom. Were more than happy and were absolutely thrilled to have him back.”

Captain Shea Weber will make his season debut Tuesday night when the Canadiens play the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).

“You know how much he finishes in the corner. You know how hard it is to create offence, so as a skilled guy or a guy coming in to the Bell Centre or wherever were going to play, and to see that guys name across the way, you know youre in for a tough night. I think that alone has a huge impact on the game. 

The veteran defenceman had off-season knee surgery and hasn’t played since the NHL 100 Classic outdoor game last Dec. 16 in Ottawa. Weber suffered a fractured left foot in the first game last season and tried to play through it before being shut down and requiring surgery for tendon damage in the foot before his off-season surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Domi was, of course, referring to team captain Shea Weber, who is expected to make his season debut on Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes. Weber has been out since last December due to foot and later knee surgery. 

Weber was paired with David Schlemko during Monday morning’s practice in Brossard. The other defence pairings had Brett Kulak with Jeff Petry, Jordie Benn with Victor Mete, and Xavier Ouellet with Mike Reilly.

For Domi, who was acquired in the off-season for Alex Galchenyuk, Tuesday could represent his first time playing with Weber, though he knows the impact the defenceman can have on opponents.

After practice, Claude Julien said Weber would most likely start Tuesday’s game paired with Schlemko, but added that could change depending on how things go. The coach also noted that Victor Mete played well with Weber last season.

Forward Max Domi said Monday the team knows the next month will start to separate the contenders from the pretenders and the Canadiens want to ensure they remain the former.

As for what he’s expecting from Weber Tuesday night, Julien said: “It sounds like a cliché, but were going to expect him to keep his game simple. But at the same time, hes going to be a big boost for our hockey club. His physicality, his leadership and all that stuff. Its going to be a big boost for us.

The Montreal Canadiens went 0-4 for last week and are clinging to the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference entering their final game of November.

But everybody comes back differently, the coach added. Some guys it takes them a while, some guys get it right away. It depends on the type of injuries and everything else. So its hard to stand here and then say: Listen, I expect him to be this way, that way and expect to get this and that from him. I think we need to see. But all I know is that hes a welcome addition … a very welcome addition not just to the coaching staff, but to his teammates and no doubt hell be an upgrade for us.

Weber had six goals and 10 assists in 26 games with the Canadiens last season, while averaging over 25 minutes of ice time per game.

When asked about the possibility of pairing Weber with Jeff Petry, who filled the No. 1 defence spot in the captain’s absence, Julien said: “None of them is comfortable on the left. You can’t really put a guy in a position where he’s not comfortable.

Defenceman Karl Alzner was not on the ice for the 11 a.m. practice and was placed on waivers by the Canadiens at noon.

While Corey Perry is expected to be lost for an extended time due to a torn MCL, the more recent losses of top defenseman Cam Fowler to a facial fracture and Hampus Lindholm to a lower body injury has depleted a D-Man core that could ill afford to lose depth in front of one of the NHLs best goalies, John Gibson. With such carnage in front of Gibson, it is no wonder that despite a sparkling .926 save percentage, the Ducks are still 21st in goals against, as they have allowed an NHL-leading 890 shots on goal to date. Unless the Ducks are able to do something to curb the volume of rubber thrown at Gibson, the former Jennings Trophy winner will continue to struggle to keep enough pucks out of his net, even if he performs solidly.

Alzner still has three more seasons after this one remaining on a five-year, US$23.125-million contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $4.625 million. The 30-year-old is earning $6 million this season. Alzner has been a healthy scratch for 16 of the Canadiens’ 24 games this season and has one assist along with a plus-2 in the eight games he has played.

Offensively, the Ducks were without captain Ryan Getzlaf for a period of time to begin the year, but his return for 19 games since have been enough for him to currently lead the team with 17 points on the year. Across the board, goal-scoring has been tough to come by for the Ducks, as they currently are 29th in goals for, and their offensive punch has become concentrated in their top two lines. Rickard Rakell remains dangerous, but he is off his pace from a season ago, and Adam Henrique is providing the typical supporting scoring that he is accustomed to, but the struggles of veterans Ryan Kesler and Andrew Cogliano have been apparent and desperately lacking.

If Alzner clears NHL waivers at noon on Tuesday, he is expected to report to the AHL’s Laval Rocket.

If the Canadiens are going to stay around within the Atlantic Division or Eastern Conference wildcard races, they must hope that Webers return fortifies their blueline and in turn the top-flight status of Price in net. They must also hope that the return of their power play quarterback significantly improves a 30th-ranked power play that has appeared lost for much of the season in converting at under a 15% clip. If Weber can provide the needed jolt, perhaps the Canadiens can get to the trade deadline in a position to add instead of subtract, which would have seemed very unlikely at the seasons onset.

Julien said after practice that the Canadiens figure they won’t lose Alzner on waivers because of his contract, adding: “We don’t want to lose defencemen.”

His futures not gone with us, Julien said about Alzner. It was more a question of who could we not lose. Right now, theres a lot of teams that are really struggling on the back end with injuries and stuff like that. We got some guys that are cap friendly that would be easily picked up had they been put on waivers. We were protecting ourselves because we want to keep our depth and Karl was the guy, because of his contract, we felt would be the least (likely) to be picked up right now of the guys (to) put on waivers. We hope to keep him.

When Schlemko was asked about Alzner’s situation after practice, he said: “It kind of just reminds you that hockeys a business. As great as a guy Alzy is, thats a management decision and we all wish him the best. Hopefully he lands somewhere and gets his feet underneath him.

Offensively, the Canadiens have become much improved with the shuffling of their roster that saw former leading men Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk exit, while Max Domi and Tomas Tatar entered via trades over the summer. Domi and Tatar, along with last seasons prized acquisition Jonathan Drouin, have become the focal point of the attack for the Habs, and have elevated the scoring into the top-ten of the league over a quarter of the way through the season.

Said Weber about Alzner: “He’s been nothing but a great teammate, a good guy for this team. He’s worked his tail off. He kept quiet when I’m sure he didn’t have to. He’s in a tough position. He wasn’t comfortable sitting out. He was trying to get back in the lineup. He was doing extra and working hard. Hopefully this is just a period for him to go play some more games and hopefully he’ll be back with us at some point.”

For Carolina, Sunday represents a golden opportunity to begin a western swing with a solid effort and two points in LA, as they attempt to reverse the franchise fortunes on west coast trips. Putting forth a solid effort and gaining a result on Sunday against a battered opponent is the sort of thing that playoff-worthy teams are able to do. Time will tell if that is the kind of team the Hurricanes are.

It looks like defencemen Reilly and Ouellet will be healthy scratches for the third straight game Tuesday night against the Hurricanes after being on the fourth pairing at practice.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports The winds of change have swept through Los Angeles as the Kings season is off to a near-disastrous beginning. Coach John Stevens paid the price early, as he was replaced by Willie Desjardins after just 13 games. At 8-14-1, the Kings are in jeopardy of being buried early in the season, and it would appear that they are unlikely to rebound currently.

Hes got to be better defending, Julien said. Hes got to be better in his decision-making. He cant keep turning pucks over with sloppy plays. He knows that. So thats where we need consistency. He has the potential. But you cant have a guy in your lineup that one night you dont know what youre going to get on a nightly basis, I should say. Are we going to get the good side or the bad side? Because sometimes that can kill your team. So he needs to be more consistent.

Paul Byron, who has missed the last 13 games with a lower-body injury, took part in Monday’s practice and so did Nikita Scherbak, who has yet to play a game this season for the Canadiens and is also recovering from a lower-body injury. Scherbak has 1-0-1 totals in five games with the AHL’s Laval Rocket.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Wading their way through yet another season filled with injuries and lost time, the Anaheim Ducks enter this week with a .500 record, and a penchant for grinding games into sawdust in an attempt to find a way to stay afloat in the Pacific Division while they await the return of some key contributors.

Julien said that Byron and Scherbak still aren’t ready to return and neither will be in the lineup against the Hurricanes. Judging by the lines at practice Monday, it looks like Matthew Peca will be a healthy scratch Tuesday night.

Drouin – Domi – Shaw Tatar – Danault – Gallagher Hudon – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen Agostino – Chaput – Deslauriers Byron – Peca – Scherbak

Paul Byron first player on ice for #Habs practice in Brossard. He has missed last 13 games with lower-body injury #HabsIO pic.twitter.com/g4vglmf945

Carey Price switched back to his white pads for Monday’s practice after wearing red ones in recent games.

Price wore the red pads for the first time in a game on Nov. 3 at the Bell Centre against the Tampa Bay Lightning and has a 2-4-2 record since then.

For the season, Price has a 7-6-4 record with a 3.17 goals-against average and a .897 save percentage.

Weber and P.K. Subban will continue to be compared as long as they play following the blockbuster trade on June 29, 2016 that brought Weber to the Canadiens and sent Subban to the Nashville Predators.

While Weber is expected to make his season debut Tuesday against the Hurricanes, Subban has 2-10-12 totals in 18 games this season with the Predators and is plus-8 while averaging 22:43 of ice time.

Since the trade, Weber has played 104 games with the Canadiens, posting 23-35-58 totals. Subban has played 166 games with the Predators, posting 28-83-111 totals.

Weber, 33, has seven seasons after this one remaining on his 14-year, US$110-million contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $7.857 million. Subban, 29, has three seasons after this one left on his eight-year, US$72-million contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $9 million.

Speaking of former Canadiens, Max Pacioretty has finally started scoring for the Vegas Golden Knights after a slow start to the season.

Pacioretty scored two goals in the Golden Knights’ 6-0 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, giving him six goals in the last five games and 8-3-11 totals in 21 games for the season. The former Canadiens captain is now on pace to score 31 goals.

Tomas Tatar, one of the players Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin acquired in exchange for Pacioretty, has 10-9-19 totals in 24 games this season. Nick Suzuki, another player the Canadiens acquired in the Pacioretty deal, has 19-19-38 totals in 24 games with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. The Canadiens also acquired a second-round pick at the 2019 NHL Draft in exchange for Pacioretty.

Former Canadien Alex Galchenyuk was held off the scoresheet in the Arizona Coyotes’ 6-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Sunday and has now gone six games without a goal.

In 15 games with the Coyotes, Galchenyuk has 3-6-9 totals and is minus-3. Max Domi, the player the Canadiens acquired in exchange for Galchenyuk, has 11-15-26 totals in 24 games to lead the team in scoring and is plus-3.

The Canadiens have an 11 a.m. morning skate scheduled for Tuesday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard before facing the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). The Canadiens will then have the day off on Wednesday, followed by practices on Thursday and Friday at 11 a.m. in Brossard to prepare for back-to-back weekend games at the Bell Centre against the New York Rangers on Saturday (7 p.m., SN, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio) and the San Jose Sharks on Sunday (7 p.m., SN1, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).