Eller unsung hero for Habs
The Canadiens are one of the hottest teams in the NHL as they prepare to face the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690). The Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins are tied for the best record over the past 10 games at 8-1-1. The Canadiens have won four in a row and have only one regulation loss in their past 13 games (10-1-2). One of the unsung heroes during the Canadiens’ run has been centre Lars Eller. His offensive numbers have tailed off after a hot start, but he does have three goals and five assists in the current streak. His major contribution has been solid defensive play. Eller is plus-3 over the past 13 games, while averaging more than 17 minutes a game. He is also the team leader in the faceoff circle, winning more than 53 per cent of his draws. Coach Michel Therrien gave his players the day off Friday after they played three games in four nights — all victories.
Boychuk has MRI in Boston
Boston defenceman Johnny Boychuk may have been injured before the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty pushed him into the boards Thursday night at the Bell Centre. Boychuk has a history of back problems and he may have twisted his back as he attempted to avoid the hit. Boychuk was immobilized and taken to hospital because he couldn’t get up. He was able to join the team for the flight home Thursday night, but underwent an MRI Friday and isn’t expected to face the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night. Meanwhile, Boston coach Claude Julien said he didn’t believe Pacioretty intended to injure Boychuk and didn’t believe any further discipline was warranted.
Giroux finding his groove with Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers’ Claude Giroux has boosted his Olympic stock with a strong performance over the past three weeks. Giroux, who missed Team Canada’s summer orientation camp because of a wrist injury, failed to score a goal in his first 15 games. But he has been averaging a point a game over the last 10 games and leads the Flyers with 20 points. The Flyers, who play host to the Canadiens next Thursday, are 6-3-1 during that span and are only two points out of a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Two Habs prospects on Team Sweden
Canadiens prospects Sebastien Collberg and Jacob de la Rose will be playing for host Sweden when the world junior championship begins Dec. 26 in Malmo. The Canadiens gave Collberg, a second-round draft choice in 2012, a long look at training camp before deciding to send him back to Frolunda in the Swedish league, where he has one goal and three assists in 23 games. De la Rose, who was a second-round pick this year, has been more productive in his rookie season with Leksands in the Swedish league with three goals and four assists in 27 games.
Local female stars headed to Italy
The top-ranked McGill Martlets and the No. 2 Université de Montréal Carabins will be well represented on the Canadian women’s hockey team at the FISU World University Games, which begin Tuesday in Trentino, Italy. Kim Deshenes will captain the team and be joined by Université de Montréal teammates Josiane Legault, Elodie Rousseau Sirois and Solphie Brault. McGill will be represented by Brittney Fouracres, Gabrielle Davidson and alternate captain Katia Clement-Heydra. On the men’s side, the selections are made on a rotating regional basis. This year’s team is composed of players from the Atlantic region, but there are three Quebecers on it — Pierre Vandall from Dalhousie, Marc-Antoine Desnoyers from the University of New Brunswick and Eric Faille from Moncton.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette