Canadiens defenceman Alexei Emelin pushesLightning winger Teddy Purcell out of the way of goalie Carey Price during second-period action of Game 4 at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.
Photograph by: Pierre Obendrauf, Montreal Gazette
One of the perks associated with the Canadiens’ first-round playoff sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning is an opportunity for the players to sit back and relax before the second round starts.
The Canadiens are waiting to play the winner of the Boston-Detroit series. The Bruins currently lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled for Thursday in Detroit (8 p.m., TSN, RDS). The earliest that series could end would be Saturday, and if it goes the full seven games it will wrap up on Wednesday, April 30.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien gave his players Wednesday and Thursday off, and the club announced that Friday’s schedule is to be determined.
Therrien has been conscious of the toll a long National Hockey League season takes on players and scheduled extra days off and optional practices throughout the regular season. With the additional time off provided by the sweep, the Canadiens will attempt to find a balance between rest and maintaining a competitive edge.
“Personally, it’s good to have the time off,” said Max Pacioretty, whose series-clinching goal Tuesday was his first in eight career NHL postseason games. “We had a lot of battles in this series and the time off will be good. We’re all professionals in this room and we’ll handle it right.”
Pacioretty said he’ll spend some of the down time in the weight room. He feels he has lost some strength over a season during which he missed some time to injuries and then had an increased workload because he represented the United States at the Sochi Olympics.
“Rest is a weapon right now,” Lars Eller said. “I don’t see it as a disadvantage. Boston or Detroit, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to have to beat one of them — or any other team — to keep advancing, so we’ll just sit back and see what happens.”
There are several Canadiens players who can use the time off to recover from bumps and bruises.
Brandon Prust is in that group. He returned to the lineup for Game 1 after missing the last 12 games of the regular season with bruised ribs. He hasn’t been able to put any zip on his shots.
Prust is not the only player who appears to be operating at less than 100 per cent. Thomas Vanek has laboured at times, while Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov have both skipped practice for therapy days.
The Canadiens have forward Travis Moen waiting in the wings after recovering from a concussion.
The extra time might also help Alex Galchenyuk, although the Canadiens would have to reach the Eastern Conference final to give him a chance at some playoff action. The forward suffered a knee injury on April 9 in Chicago and the original prognosis had him on the sidelines for 4-6 weeks.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette