In this week’s Montreal Canadiens’ news and rumors, Alexander Romanov is finally on his way to Toronto for Phase 4 of the return to play plan (RTP). Max Domi will be playing in the playoffs, and Artturi Lehkonen has a good plan to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins power play. Plus a couple of Canadiens open up about being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Romanov finally got his visa worked out and is headed to Canada. He will head straight to Toronto and serve his mandatory 14-day quarantine there before he can practice with the Canadiens. He was signed to an entry-level contract earlier this month, and although he can’t play with the team in the playoffs he can still practice and be part of the team’s bubble.
Romanov was the Canadians third pick 38th overall in the 2018 draft. Last season with CSKA Moscow of the KHL, he had seven points and a plus-21 rating in 43 games.
Max Domi Headed to Toronto
Domi has type-1 diabetes and the Canadiens had agreed to wait 7-10 days for him to make a decision on whether he would play or not. Domi decided last week that he would play. He feels he will be just as safe as everyone else, but cautions other type-1 diabetics, that this his decision and that they should make their own when it comes to dealing with COVID-19.
“The league, the PA, and the Habs as well — I made sure I collected as much data as possible and communicated with all those people and got everyone on the same page”
“Again, this is my decision, I’m not telling other Type 1 diabetics just to follow my lead here. I think everybody’s got to make their own decision based on their own experience, and they’re going to have family (involved) too. But for me it was a decision I thought long and hard about, obviously weighed every option, and I’m here now and super happy to be here and can’t wait to get started.”Max Domi on why he chose to play
With diabetes, Domi isn’t at a higher risk to catch COVID-19 but if he does contract it, the virus could be harder on his system. Domi is looking forward to helping the Canadiens make a long run in the playoffs. As of now has been practicing on the fourth line centring Jordan Weal and Dale Wiese.
Lehkonen’s Plan to Beat Pittsburgh’s Power Play
The Canadiens need to pull out all the stops if they want to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in their opening series. The Habs are major underdogs and will have to pull off a major upset if they want to advance to the playoffs.
One of the Canadiens penalty killers Lehkonen thinks he has the solution to stopping the Penguins, high-flying power play (PP). It’s pretty simple too; just stay out of the box. In a video conference, Lehkonen simply stated the best way to beat their PP is to not let them have one, and just play smart hockey.
“We have to stay out of the penalty box, The Penguins have so many good players on both of their power-play units and we can’t afford to give them opportunities,”(From ‘Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkonen has good way to stop Penguins’ Power Play’, Montreal Gazette, 23/7/20)
The Penguins had a modest PP during the season ranking only 18th, however, they had Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Jake Guentzel injured at different times through the season. With the team basically healthy now, their PP should be hard to defend.
Two Players Speak Out About Testing Positive With COVID-19
Brett Kulak broke the team silence and told reporters, he tested positive for COVID-19. Kulak stated that he had headaches, lack of energy, and breathing issues while he had the virus. He served his quarantine and now feels much better and is ready to go.
There was another Canadien who also tested positive for COVID-19: Xavier Ouellet. Ouellet’s case was a bit different from Kulak’s in that his initial test was positive, but his second one was negative. Then, he had an antibody test which showed he had COVID-19 at some point. This confused Oulette because he stated he took all the precautions and has no idea when he would have contracted COVID-19.
In all, there were only three positive tests on the team, with two coming back as false positive. Kulak was the only true positive test while Oulette’s test was more of a result of having the virus in the past, which apparently was news to him.
Roster Is Cut Down to 31 For Toronto Bubble
The Canadiens cut their roster down to the league max of 31 for the bubble in Toronto. The only two players that didn’t make the cut were Laurent Dauphin and Josh Brook.
Gustav Olofsson was a bit of a surprise over Brook, but sometimes a team has to make a few tough decisions. The coaching staff must have felt Olofsson was doing better in camp than Brook, which could be seen as a step backward for the young defender.
On July 28, Phase 4 kicks off with an exhibition game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, before starting their all-important series against the Penguins on August 1. With the bubble roster set, all that’s left is to get the lines and pairings shorted out and the Canadiens will be ready to chase the Cup.
Trege Wilson lives in Nova Scotia and is a member of the RCN. He is a life long Habs fan and is creator and co-host of the popular Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered.