Tonight, the Canadiens will try to stave off elimination when they take on the Lightning in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final. Montreal will no doubt want to avoid the humiliation of a sweep and the ultimate insult, the Stanley Cup being won on their own ice in front of their own fans. Before we get to that though, the Habs had a morning skate in Brossard and as per usual, even though he’s not playing, Alexander Romanov was the first one on the ice, a good 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. It’s been the case all season and all playoffs long, the young Russian really has a great work ethic. Five minutes later, he was joined by fellow healthy scratch Brett Kulak. We learned later that both would be back in the line-up, hopefully, that means a lighter workload for the Top 4.
Line-up wise, there were some new developments this morning with the following lines taking the drills:
On the blue line, Joel Edmundson revealed the game plan when he said the following in his media availability.
“Romanov’s energy is contagious, he comes out every morning, and it’s even before the game. Speaking to him, he’s excited to get back out there. Excited to get him and Kuly back in the lineup tonight.”
As for Paul Byron, he had this to say about his new line with Evans and Lehkonen: “Our line will have a lot of energy, I like playing with Jake and Lehky, they can skate with anyone.” When pressed on to see if this new shutdown line could help ease the defensive load on the Danault line, he added this: “Defending is a team duty, everyone must play their best”.
When Ducharme spoke to the media, he said the following about the changes he’s making for tonight’s big game:
“We wanted to put Evans with Byron and Lehkonen and we didn’t want to separate working duos such as Gally and Danault and Caufield-Suzuki and the fourth line.”
Ducharme is finally bringing in Romanov.
“On defense, we wanted to bring dynamic skaters in so we’re bringing Kulak and Romanov in”
According to the coach, this latest scratching isn’t against Kotkaniemi:
“It’s just that we want to have Jake, Lehky, and Paulie. That’s a line that showed some really good things, and we haven’t used much during the playoffs because of injuries…it’s nothing against KK. We have depth and we have options and that’s the way it is.”
Still, the pending restricted free agent would probably have liked to be in the lineup for such a pivotal game. Speaking of pending free agents, Tomas Tatar is also still standing on the sidelines and hasn’t been back in the lineup since the first round, not exactly the best way to improve one’s value in a contract year.
With the final preparation in the books, it’s now time for the Canadiens to deliver on the ice or pack up for the Summer, we’ll see which one it will be tonight.