With a playoff spot already clinched and a first-round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs already confirmed, head coach Dominique Ducharme will rest some of his key players for Wednesday’s regular-season finale at the Bell Centre against the Edmonton Oilers (5 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).
Goalie Jake Allen, defencemen Jeff Petry and Joel Edmundson, and forwards Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson and Eric Staal will all have the night off. Ducharme noted that Staal is dealing with an injury.
Cayden Primeau will start in goal for the Canadiens with Charlie Lindgren as his backup.
Defenceman Xavier Ouellet and forward Jesse Ylonen, who were both called up from the AHL’s Laval Rocket on Wednesday morning, will both be in the lineup.
“We have a way we want to play, so we want to make sure we do that as a group,” Ducharme said when he met with the media on a video conference a couple of hours before the game. “Individually, it’s important for the guys to have that game and the guys that are in right now there’s a reason because either they haven’t played a lot because of different reasons and making sure that everyone’s on top of his game.
“We’re going to be going out there, we want to win that game,” the coach added. “We have 20 guys in the lineup, we have a way of playing, that’s the way we want to be playing. Individually, some guys are back from injury that we feel they need to play. Other guys are not quite on top of their game and they need to play. We want to see other guys coming in like Ylonen and see where he’s at. I think a guy like (Michael) Frolik, he’s been a pro all year and deserves to be playing that game. And getting ready, too, because there are so many things that can happen in the playoffs that we want everyone to be ready.”
Sean Burke, the director of goaltending, will also replace assistant coach Alex Burrows behind the bench.
“(Burrows) had some symptoms and just to make sure we’re clear he was not with the team this morning and this afternoon, so Sean’s going to be behind the bench with me and Luke (Richardson),” Ducharme explained.
Here’s how the forward lines and defence pairings will look for the Canadiens against the Oilers:
Byron – Evans – Lehkonen
Armia – Suzuki – Caufield
Tatar – Kotkaniemi – Perry
Belzile – Frolik – Ylonen
Kulak – Chiarot
Romanov – Ouellet
Gustafsson – Merrill