Caufield, Drouin, Markov and More

In this week’s edition of Montreal Canadiens news and rumors, head coach Dominique Ducharme has announced lineup changes ahead of Game 3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight in Montreal, there will be fans in the Bell Centre if the series gets to Game 6 and Jonathan Drouin is the Habs’ King Clancy nominee.

Plus, former Canadiens defenceman Gilles Lupien has passed away, Andrei Markov is headed behind the bench while Sean Farrell and the Chicago Steel have been crowned Clark Cup champions in the USHL.

Cole Caufield in, Eric Staal Out for Game 3

No. 22 has entered the chat. After sitting out the first two games of the series, Cole Caufield will make his NHL playoff debut for the Habs tonight against Toronto while Eric Staal is out with an injury.

Related: Canadiens Should Replace Tatar With Caufield for Game 3

Caufield, who scored four goals and added an assist in 10 regular season games with Montreal, will likely play on a line with Nick Suzuki and Joel Armia. Another interesting trio will see Jesperi Kotkaniemeni, who scored the Canadiens’ lone goal in Game 2, centring a line with Tyler Toffoli and Brendan Gallagher. Considering that Staal was on the ice for the morning skate, Ducharme confirmed that Paul Byron will now center the fourth line and Tomas Tatar will take Byron’s spot on the wing.

On defense, Shea Weber, who was fined $5,000 for cross-checking Wayne Simmonds in Game 2, and Ben Chiarot are a pairing again while Alexander Romanov continues to wait his turn to get in the lineup.

Fans in the Bell Centre for Game 6

Last week, Quebec Premier François Legault announced the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the province including allowing a limited number of spectators for shows and events beginning May 28.

The Bell Centre is set to welcome fans for the first since the start of the pandemic.
(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

It just so happens that Game 6 of Canadiens vs. Leafs is scheduled for May 29 in Montreal should the series be extended that far. Under the new provincial rules, the Bell Centre will initially accommodate 2,500 spectators or approximately 12% of capacity.

A little extra motivation for the underdog Habs to keep the series close because we all know how special playoff games in Montreal are, especially with fans in the stands.

Jonathan Drouin Nominated for King Clancy Memorial Trophy

Drouin has been named the Canadiens’ nominee for this year’s King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.

Related: Key Takeaways from Canadiens’ Game 2 Loss vs. Maple Leafs

Since 2017, Drouin has served as an ambassador for the CHUM Foundation. He has committed to helping raise $5 million and pledged to make a personal donation of $50,000 annually for 10 years. His golf tournament also benefits thousands of CHUM patients. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Drouin distributed masks to those using public transportation and helped raise awareness about safety measures.

Montreal Canadiens Jonathan Drouin
Jonathan Drouin is the Canadiens’ King Clancy nominee for 2020-21. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)

The nomination is especially touching considering that Drouin took an indefinite leave of absence from the team for personal reasons last month.

Canadiens Mourn the Loss of Gilles Lupien

Lupien, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Habs in 1978 and 1979 who was known to be Guy Lafleur’s bodyguard, has passed away at the age of 67 following a courageous battle with cancer.

The former defenseman was a second-round selection of the Canadiens in the 1974 NHL Entry Draft and was involved in hockey for over 50 years, first as a player and then as an advisor and agent following his retirement. He also ran a successful fast-food business.

Andrei Markov Named Assistant Coach in the KHL

Markov will be behind the bench for HC Vityaz during the 2021-22 season as an assistant coach, his first foray into coaching.

Andrei Markov Montreal Canadiens
Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens, 2003 (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

The former defenseman spent his entire 16-year NHL career with the Canadiens, appearing in 990 games and putting up 572 points from 2000 to 2017.  The Montreal icon finished his playing career in the KHL from 2017 to 2020, winning the Gagarin Cup with Ak Bars Kazan in 2018.

It would be great to see Markov eventually brought back to the Canadiens organization in some capacity.

Sean Farrell Wins the Clark Cup

Farrell and the Chicago Steel defeated the Fargo Force 3-1 on Saturday night to capture the second Clark Cup title in franchise history and second in the last four years.

The victory caps a record-setting season in the USHL for Farrell, a 2020 fourth-round draft pick of the Canadiens. The 19-year-old forward put up 29 goals and 101 points in 53 games. He finished the playoffs with 10 points in eight games.

Sean Farrell Chicago Steel
Sean Farrell of the Chicago Steel (Chicago Steel)

In February, Farrell set a USHL record by scoring a point in 24 consecutive games. He has committed to play NCAA hockey beginning in 2021-22 with Harvard University. 

What’s Next For the Canadiens?

After getting a split on the road, the Habs will need to make the most of their home-ice advantage during the next two games and keep the pressure on the Leafs in their now best-of-five series. To do so, they will need to show more discipline and generate more offense after spending most of Game 2 in their own end.

It sure is nice to have playoff hockey in Montreal again, against their archrivals from Toronto no less.