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Sports Stu Cowan: Canadiens' title quest begins anew 78 days after Cup loss

02:50  23 september  2021
02:50  23 september  2021 Source:   montrealgazette.com

A free-agent profile for former All-Star goaltender Devan Dubnyk

  A free-agent profile for former All-Star goaltender Devan Dubnyk Dubnyk could find a spot where he can act as a No. 3 and, if need be or if he shows he is capable, can take over a backup role. Again, it isn’t the most valuable label, but it could benefit a number of teams. At the end of the day, for those clubs that decide they need another goalie this late in the offseason or in-season but don’t want to make a trade, Dubnyk is the best option.Stats2020-21: 22 GP, 6-11-2 (.368), .895 SV%, 3.20 GAA, .444 QS%, 1 SOCareer: 542 GP, 253-206-54 (.546), .914 SV%, 2.61 GAA, .

Montreal Canadiens' Carey Price does some exercises on the ice under the supervision of a member of the team's training staff at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sept. 16, 2021. Price had off-season knee surgery. © Provided by The Gazette Montreal Canadiens' Carey Price does some exercises on the ice under the supervision of a member of the team's training staff at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Sept. 16, 2021. Price had off-season knee surgery.

Only 78 days after losing the Stanley Cup final to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Canadiens will be back on the ice Thursday morning in Brossard at training camp.

For the second straight season, this will be a new look Canadiens team after another busy off-season for GM Marc Bergevin. Head coach Dominique Ducharme will have a full three weeks of training camp — including six preseason games — to implement his system, which he tried to do on the fly after taking over from Claude Julien 18 games into last season.

Rangers reportedly begin extension talks with star center Mika Zibanejad

  Rangers reportedly begin extension talks with star center Mika Zibanejad Zibanejad has seen his offensive production increase sharply over the past three seasons.  He notched 74 points in 82 games in 2018-19, then managed to beat that total by one in 25 fewer games in 2019-20.  While his output dipped last season, he still managed to put up 50 points in 56 contests.  While it took him a while to get there, Zibanejad has produced like a legitimate No. 1 center over the past three years. Accordingly, Brooks pegs his asking price of being upward of $10M per season on a long-term pact of either seven or eight years.

Julien only had 10 days of training camp last season — which started on Jan. 3 because of COVID-19 — and no pre-season games to figure out how to fit off-season additions Jake Allen, Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli, Corey Perry, Michael Frolik and Joel Edmundson into the lineup. The Canadiens got off to a great start, going 7-1-2 in their first 10 games, before the wheels started to fall off and Julien was fired when the team had a 9-5-4 record.

The Canadiens will still pay Julien US$5 million this season in the final year of his five-year, US$25-million contract, while Ducharme enters the first season of a three-year deal reported to be worth US$1.7 million per season .

The Canadiens reported to training camp for medical and physical testing on Wednesday and it will be interesting to see how Ducharme sets up his forward lines Thursday with newcomers Christian Dvorak, Mike Hoffman, Cédric Paquette and Mathieu Perreault joining the team. The defence pairings will also be interesting with newcomers David Savard and Chris Wideman.

Stu Cowan: Canadiens rookies skate off rust in sloppy 4-3 loss to Sens

  Stu Cowan: Canadiens rookies skate off rust in sloppy 4-3 loss to Sens This was not a hockey game to remember — unless you were a rookie playing in it wearing an NHL sweater for the first time. In the first game of rookie camp, the Canadiens lost 4-3 to the Senators on Saturday afternoon at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre. William Trudeau , Mattias Norlinder and Jan Mysak scored for the Canadiens, who were leading 3-2 with six minutes left in the third period before allowing two goals in 32 seconds. “It was a little In the first game of rookie camp, the Canadiens lost 4-3 to the Senators on Saturday afternoon at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre.

Here’s how I can envision the forward lines looking:

Toffoli – Nick Suzuki – Cole Caufield

Jonathan Drouin – Dvorak – Brendan Gallagher

Anderson – Paquette – Hoffman

Artturi Lehkonen – Jake Evans – Joel Armia

Perreault will be in a battle for one of the forward spots — possibly with Paquette as the third-line centre since Perreault has experience at wing and centre — and Ryan Poehling will also be looking to win a job four years after being the Canadiens’ first-round pick (25th overall) at the NHL Draft and posting 11-14-25 totals in 28 games last season with the AHL’s Laval Rocket.

Shea Weber’s name was on the list of 70 players invited to training camp, but the captain isn’t expected to play this season and his career could be over because of thumb, ankle, foot and knee injuries. The Man Mountain leaves a huge hole on the blue line after ranking second on the team in ice time last season with an average of 22:42 per game — trailing only Jeff Petry at 22:44 — and playing the best hockey of his five seasons in Montreal during the playoffs.

Stu Cowan: Canadiens' Jonathan Drouin just wants to have fun again

  Stu Cowan: Canadiens' Jonathan Drouin just wants to have fun again Four years ago, as Jonathan Drouin prepared for his first season with the Canadiens, his agent gave him two words of advice. “Have fun,” Allan Walsh told the 22-year-old Drouin. On June 15, 2017, Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin acquired Drouin from Tampa Bay, sending defenceman Mikhail Sergachev to the Lightning in exchange. Bergevin then quickly signed Drouin to a six-year, US$33-million contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.5 million. The “Have fun,” Allan Walsh told the 22-year-old Drouin.

“You lose your captain, it’s certain that it’s going to hurt,” Bergevin said this month. “Replacing him is impossible. We did things … we went and got free agents that we believe are going to help us to continue in the same (direction). But time will tell exactly. But I like the team we have in place at this moment.”

I can envision the defence pairings looking like this to start training camp:

Petry – Joel Edmundson

Ben Chiarot – Savard

Alexander Romanov – Brett Kulak

That leaves Wideman battling for a job with Kulak, the most likely player he could beat out — although Ducharme showed very little confidence in Kulak and Romanov in the playoffs. If Romanov, 21, can earn the coach’s trust, he certainly seems to have the talent to become a top-four defenceman, which would shuffle things up on the blue line.

Ducharme will probably have a good look at Mattias Norlinder, a third-round pick at the 2019 NHL Draft, during training camp, especially since he can play on either side with his left-hand shot and can add some much-needed offence to the blue line. If the 21-year-old doesn’t earn a job with the Canadiens he must return to Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League.

Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko fully healthy, taking part in training camp

  Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko fully healthy, taking part in training camp Even if there is a trade in the future, it appears as though Tarasenko is present, healthy and ready to help the Blues for the time being. Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily. Always free! Sign up now ▸More must-reads:Blues sign Robert Thomas to two-year, $5.6M extensionBlues name Peter Chiarelli VP of hockey operationsThe 'St.

The biggest question mark heading into training camp is the health of Carey Price, who is coming off surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee and was also dealing with a hip issue last season. The 34-year-old goalie had the knee surgery on July 22 and only started skating again last Thursday.

Another big question mark is Drouin and how he will perform after leaving the team late last season and missing the entire playoff run while dealing with anxiety and insomnia issues that sometimes saw him going three nights without sleeping. You can expect Ducharme — who coached Drouin in 2013 when they won the Memorial Cup together with the Halifax Mooseheads — to give him every chance to succeed and putting Drouin on a line with Dvorak and Gallagher would be a good start.

Last season’s journey to the Stanley Cup final was a remarkable ride for the Canadiens with so many storylines along the way. The road to the playoffs will be more difficult this season as they return to a full 82-game season back in the Atlantic Division.

That new journey starts Thursday.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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For Canadiens fans, regular-season has already arrived .
About 45 minutes after the Canadiens finished their Red vs. White scrimmage Sunday afternoon there was a large crowd of fans waiting outside the garage at the Bell Centre hoping to get a glimpse of the players on their way out. This was after a scrimmage — not an actual game. The passion Montreal fans have for the Canadiens really is impressive. “By the time I left, there was only two left … I didn’t feel the passion,” Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme said with a smile Monday morning after practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. Did he sign autographs for those two fans? “They waved … I waved back,” Ducharme said with another smile.

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