Belzile inserted into Habs lineup, team avoids first roster with no Quebecois players on the ice
Montreal Canadiens' Phillip Danault lies injured on the ice after he was hit in the head by a puck on a shot by Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara during second period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, January 13, 2018. (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
MONTREAL -- In a season full of first, the Habs were set to lace up and hit the ice tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs with a historic first: sans les Quebecois.
The team, however, announced that Alex Belzile will be on the fourth line with Jake Evans and Artturi Lehkonen avoiding a never-before-seen occurance in a Montreal Canadiens' hockey game.
No fans, that's a first. All-Canadian division, another first. The Canadiens firing a coach mid-season after underachieving and failing to live up to pre-season expectations? Okay, some things will always remain the same.
The possibility of the Habs putting out a roster without a single player born in the province of Quebec, however, is something that has not happened in the team's history.
The team announced that Phillip Danault is out of the lineup with a concussion that he suffered in the Habs' 5-2 loss to the Leafs Thursday night, and with fellow Belle Province native Jonathan Drouin out indefinitely for personal reasons, the Habs seemed ready to play a game with an entirely non-Quebecois roster.
The Canadiens could have played their first game without a Quebecer in the lineup since its inception in 1909, according to Radio-Canada.
Belzile, who is originally from St. Eloi, was recalled from the Habs' reserve lineup on Saturday. He will be playing in his first career NHL regular season game after making his debut in six playoff games last summer at the age of 28.
In 14 games with the Laval Rocket this season in the American Hockey League, Belzile recorded three goals and eight assists.
Alex Belzile's insertion into the lineup May 8, 2021 means that the Montreal Canadiens avoided playing a game without a player born in Quebec for the first time in the team's history. CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Other Habs stars are making positive recovery progress, according to the team.
Brendan Gallagher resumed on-ice training this week, and should be back for the playoffs after being injured April 7.
Shea Weber is day-to-day and Carey Price is on the ice for the first time since suffering a concussion April 19 in Edmonton.
Jake Allen will be in net after coming on in relief of Cayden Primeau after the first period on Thursday.
After tonight's game againt Toronto, the Canadiens head to Edmonton Monday for the first of two games against the Oilers to end the season. The Habs sit two points back of the Winnipeg Jets for third place in the North division with the Jets having played one fewer game.
A Habs need a single point to book their spot in the playoffs, but moving above the Jets to avoid the Leafs in the first round is also a possibility and likely the goal.
Puck drops at 7 p.m.