The Canadiens’ oldest defenseman needs a rest, and their third-oldest needs a game.
That’s the story out of Montreal on Friday as head coach Michel Therrien announced 38-year-old Francis Bouillon will be a healthy scratch against Washington, keeping him from having to play in a back-to-back situation (the Habs host Pittsburgh tomorrow).
It’s the first game Bouillon has missed all season and, in his place, 33-year-old Douglas Murray will play his first game in a week.
“We have seven healthy defencemen and I don’t want to leave a guy like Douglas Murray off the ice too long,” Therrien explained, as per the Montreal Gazette. “It’s a discussion we’ve had since (Alexei) Emelin returned to the lineup.
“At 38 years of age, we have to keep in mind that the season is a long one. Bouillon will be in the lineup tomorrow.”
With the blueline finally healthy (save Davis Drewiske, out for a few more months after shoulder surgery), Montreal now has seven bonafide NHL defensemen under contract — Bouillon, Murray, Emelin, P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Raphael Diaz and Josh Gorges. That’s not including youngsters Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi, both of whom started the season in Montreal but have since been dispatched to AHL Hamilton.
The trick, it seems, is finding the right combination on a consistent basis. The Habs have been erratic of late, alternating wins and losses over their last six games. The hope is the club can build on Tuesday’s 6-2 whitewashing of Minnesota, a game in which Markov and Subban combined for three points.
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Tim Gleason has likely played his last NHL game. The 32-year-old defenseman has informed the Carolina Hurricanes that he no longer wishes to continue his professional tryout.
“Tim informed us today he wasn’t going to continue to pursue his tryout,” said GM Ron Francis, per the club’s website. “He looked and felt good physically, but didn’t feel up to the grind of the NHL mentally.”
“We got outcompeted in the second period, badly,” Mark Letestu told the team’s website. “Whether it was little puck battles or even just executing on systems. It played right into their game. When you get behind a team like this that’s so dominant in the circle it’s tough to generate chances to come back. We didn’t deserve to win this one at all.”
As if things weren’t bad enough, the Oilers also lost Nail Yakupovto injury after a linesman (yes, a linesman) fell on top of him.
After the game, head coach Todd McLellan didn’t hold back:
"That's a really disappointing effort from our hockey club… We weren't a very determined team." McLellan on the #Oilers defeat