Some news and notes from around the crease…
Neuvirth to face Canucks
Braden Holtby will rest for the first time in six games on Monday as Michal Neuvirth gets the net against the Canucks in Vancouver.
Holtby sits with a 4-5-0 record with a 3.07 GAA and .913 save percentage, paving the way for Neuvirth — he of the 1-1-0 record with a 3.08 GAA and .893 save percentage — to make his fourth appearance of the season but second in as many games, as he came on in relief of Holtby in Saturday’s 5-2 loss in Calgary.
Neuvirth has one career appearance against Vancouver, a 7-4 loss in Oct. 2011 in which he allowed four goals on 26 shots in 40 minutes of relief action.
Budaj in for Habs
The Canadiens face a tall task in taking on the Rangers in their first game of the season at MSG on Monday, and they’ll do it with backup Peter Budaj in goal.
Budaj, 31, will play for just the second time this season and the first since a 4-1 win over Edmonton on Oct. 10, a game in which he stopped 27 of 28 shots.
Carey Price has been one of the league’s busiest netminders this season, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Habs do in front of a different face (and how Budaj fares after so much time off).
— As reported earlier, Henrik Lundqvist will return from a two-game absence to face the Habs tonight.
— Injured Carolina goalie Cam Ward will indeed miss 2-4 weeks with a lower-body ailment.
— Josh Harding’s minor injury won’t keep him from backing up Niklas Backstrom vs. Chicago.
Jarred Tinordi’s bright start to his NHL career just got a little darker.
Tinordi, Montreal’s 21-year-old rookie defenseman, was sent down to AHL Hamilton on Wednesday, the day after being made a healthy scratch for the Habs’ 4-3 loss to Edmonton.
A 6-foot-6, 227-pounder with a nasty streak, Tinordi made an impression in training camp and early this season by dishing out big hits. He played a career-high 16:42 in a 3-2 loss to Calgary on Oct. 9 and dressed for both games prior to the Edmonton loss — a 2-1 loss to Nashville and a 5-3 win over Columbus.
But on Tuesday, Habs head coach Michel Therrien sent Tinordi a message.
“We want him to bring the intensity he did at training camp,” Therrien explained. “He’s not doing that right now.”
Tinordi’s demotion means Nathan Beaulieu will stick with the Habs — for now — and likely be in the lineup when they host Anaheim on Thursday. Beaulieu played 11:26 against the Oilers, blocking three shots.
The Montreal Canadiens suffered another pair of key losses as forwards Daniel Briere and Brandon Prust were knocked out of Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Nashville.
Briere, 36, was skating in Nashville’s end when Predators forward Eric Nystrom caught him with a blindside hit early in the second period:
Nystrom wasn’t penalized on the play, and the Canadiens later announced that Briere would not return.
But that wasn’t it for injured Canadiens.
In the third period, Prust got tangled with Preds defenseman Victor Bartley and crashed hard into the end boards. Like Briere, Prust also left the contest and failed to return.
If the two are lost for any length of time, it’ll hurt a Montreal team already decimated by injury. George Parros (concussion), Alexei Emelin (knee) and Douglas Murray (lower-body) only just returned to post-practice skating, while forward Max Pacioretty is out three weeks with a hamstring ailment.
The Montreal Canadiens gave captain Brian Gionta their blessing to return to Montreal on Friday to address the “personal reasons” that have been a distraction for him early this season.
The Canadiens will face the Canucks in Vancouver on Saturday, so it’s possible that he could still play. Still, the Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs believes Gionta’s next game will be a road contest against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
Gionta has been able to play in all four of Montreal’s games so far, scoring a goal and an assist.
The 34-year-old’s $5 million cap hit and salary expires after this season.
The Montreal Canadiens have played just two games, but their youngest line is proving to be the most productive.
Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, and Lars Eller helped spur the team to victory over Philadelphia Saturday night, but their combined efforts have them leading the team in scoring.
It all starts with the 24-year-old Eller whose two goals and three assists see him evolving as a real offensive threat. After acquiring him in the Jaroslav Halak trade in 2010, their patience is paying off.
At 19 years old, Galchenyuk, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, burst on the scene last season showing glimpses of what made him one of the top prospects in that draft. His four assists have him becoming the team’s top playmaker and the 21-year-old Gallagher is cashing in with the goals.
Should Danny Briere and Max Pacioretty (recently injured) hit their stride offensively, Montreal could be a dangerous goal-scoring team if the “kid line” continues to produce like this. Obviously it’s early in the year, but Habs faithful have to enjoy seeing this evolution.