The Montreal Canadiens are shaking things up on defense — in a major way — for tonight’s game against Pittsburgh.
Alexei Emelin and Raphael “player 61” Diaz will be healthy scratches, the club announced on Wednesday. That will open the door for veteran Douglas Murray (who sat out Saturday’s 5-3 loss to Toronto) and recently-recalled Nathan Beaulieu to draw into the lineup.
Diaz will be a healthy scratch for the second game in a row, having sat out the Leafs loss after playing just 14:21 in a 5-4 OT win over Ottawa last week. The Swiss rearguard has been a pretty regular feature in the lineup this year, scoring 11 points in 46 games while averaging close to 19 minutes per night.
Emelin, who has also been a healthy scratch this season, had a rough game against Toronto over the weekend and finished with a minus-2 rating and just one hit.
This isn’t the first time Habs head coach Michel Therrien has parked one of his regulars this season in the hopes of sparking the team. He’s pulled similar moves with Daniel Briere, David Desharnais and Rene Bourque — not coincidentally, the Emelin/Diaz benchings come with Montreal having lost six of its last 10.
Update: Courtesy Sean Gentille of the Sporting News, here’s some insight into Therrien’s thoughts about his club’s defensive breakdowns…
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.