MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens forward Lars Eller doesn’t know what to expect from the Edmonton Oilers tonight at the Bell Centre.
“It can be anything, you know? They play a little bit like a junior team, I think, sometimes,” said Eller, tied for the scoring lead among Habs forwards along with linemate Alex Galchenyuk with seven points in seven games.
“They take a lot risks, a lot of chances. They’re a little all over the place. There’s not a lot of structure always in their game. It can really be anything. You don’t know.
“I prefer a little more structured game. Then again, I don’t mind high-scoring games, too. Obviously, we’re going to try with their skilled players to limit their chances.”
It will be interesting to see how the “junior team” comment goes over with the Oilers, no matter how close to the truth it might be.
What you can expect is for the Canadiens (5-3) and the Oilers (2-6-1) to throw two injury-riddled lineups on the ice tonight at the Bell Centre.
They have seven and six players injured respectively. The Canadiens lost forwards Daniel Briere (concussion, out indefinitely) and Brandon Prust (shoulder, one month) in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators. They’re already without front-line winger Max Pacioretty, who’s out for three weeks with a hamstring strain.
The Canadiens called up Michael Blunden and Patrick Holland from Hamilton of the AHL for tonight’s game. They’ll play on the fourth line with Ryan White. Rookie Michael Bournival will move up to play with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta.
Canadiens lines tonight vs. Edmonton Oilers
Alex Galchenyuk-Lars Eller-Brendan Gallagher
Michael Bournival-Tomas Plekanec-Brian Gionta
Travis Moen-David Desharnais-Rene Bourque
Michael Blunden-Ryan White-Patrick Holland
The 21-year-old Holland, whom the Habs acquired in the Mike Cammalleri deal along with Rene Bourque (and a draft pick they turned into goaltender Zach Fucale), will be making his NHL debut.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said Holland had a good training camp.
“We liked a lot of things. He’s a good skater and he’s got a good vision. He had a really good camp, a really good camp. He surprised some people. He went there to Hamilton and built on his training camp. Now it’s his first chance to get a taste of the regular season. We want him to be a good player like he was in training camp. He’s reading the game well. He’s got good skill. He skates well. This is what we’re expecting from him.”