So far Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien has earned top marks for his handling his hockey club. He has pushedall the right buttons with his lineup changes following the teams horrible season opener Toronto. He seems to be handling the Alex Galchenyuk-NHL integration right.
One of Therrien’s unique season challenges will be the scheduling of practices and off days during their compressed mind and body numbing 48 game in 99 day schedule.
Therrien scheduled an optional practice Friday. Eleven players decided to suit up including forwards Ryan White, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Lars Eller, Colby Armstrong, Travis Moen, Erik Cole and Brandon Prust plus defencemen Yannick Weber and Tomas Kaberle and goaltender Peter Budaj.
Therrien was among those who didn’t skate along with Andrei Markov, Raphael Diaz, Josh Gorges, Alexei Emelin, Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta, David Desharnais, Francis Bouillon, Rene Bourque, Max Pacioretty and Carey Price. For the most part, they earned a day off.
The Canadiens have two full days off before taking on the Devils Sunday evening at the Bell Centre. Starting with New Jersey, the team is facing back to back four-game weeks (eight games in fourteen days). The regular season will run fifteen weeks. Five times the Canadiens will have to deal with a four game week. Intelligently scheduling practice and workout times while being mindful of the need for time away from the arena will be one of the season’s major challenges, not only for Therrien but team strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard.