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Training: Sean Monahan with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield

The Montreal Canadiens held a practice this morning at the Bell Centre in preparation for tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

The first thing on everyone’s mind was the state of health of the team’s many injured players.

It was immediately obvious that Arber Xhekaj had been training with his team-mates this morning.

He’s not expected to play tonight, however, if the defensive trios and pairs are anything to go by.

Renaud Lavoie had said that Xhekaj would return to action this week, which doesn’t seem to be the case so far.

Still, it’s good news to see the Sheriff skating.

As for tonight’s line-up now, well, with the (long-term) injury to Alex Newhook, a few changes were to be expected.

The first big change is one that many have been calling for for quite some time, and that’s to see Sean Monahan on the wing of the first trio along with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

Hopefully, this will help Monahan get back on track, as he has no points in his last eight games.

As for the rest of the lineup, well, with a center spot left vacant by Monahan’s promotion to the wing of the first trio, it’s Mitchell Stephens who will be inserted into the lineup at center of the fourth trio.

He will play his first game in a Canadiens uniform.

Michael Pezzetta will be the forward left out tonight once again.

As for the rest of the line-up, we can see that with all the injuries, it’s starting to get a lot less exciting after the first trio.

The center line is struggling, and it’s a shame to see young Juraj Slafkovsky, who’s been playing some great hockey lately, on a third line with Jake Evans and Tanner Pearson.

The same can be said of Jesse Ylönen, who is having a good time this season, but finds himself on a fourth line with Mitchell Stephens and Joel Armia.

On defense, there are no changes to the pairings used on Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

In net, Jake Allen should get the start tonight against the Red Wings.

The CH currently has 23 players on its roster, given that Alex Newhook has been placed on the injured list, while Arber Xhekaj remains there.

This means that 13 forwards (including Stephens and Pezzetta), seven defensemen and three goalkeepers are currently in Montreal.

Note that David Savard skated solo before training.

In short, let’s see how this battered Canadiens line-up fares against the Red Wings, who have been in fine form of late.

Before the game, Montreal Alouettes players will be honoured for their Grey Cup win.

In a gust

– Beautiful moment.

– Emil Heineman could be recalled soon.

– Joshua Roy is in neutral right now with the Rocket.

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