The Canadiens start a home and home exhibition weekend against the Senators Friday night in Ottawa. 

Scott Gomez will make his first start of the pre-season after being cleared to play and practicing with his linemates Thursday.  

La Presse’s Marc-Antoine Godin is reporting that P.K. Subban, although originally listed in tonight’s lineup, will not dress.  He remained in Montreal to undergo treatment for the nagging back problem that has bothered him through much of training camp.    His minutes will be taken by Yannick Weber.  Weber will also see action up front on the power play.   At the same time, Andrei Kostitsyn is going to be tried on the power play point.

 Carey Price will again split goaltending duties with Nathan Lawson.  Former Canadien Alex Auld will be in the Ottawa nets.

Keep an Eye On –

Andreas Engqvist, who will play in his third straight exhibition game.  The big Swedish centre was one of the favourites (along with Aaron Palushaj) to earn promotion to the team this season as the thirteenth forward.    So far in camp Engqvist has outplayed Palushaj.  Engqvist brings added value as a right hand shot and an established penchant for solid defensive play.   (Palushaj is also a righthand shot)  The resident centres, Tomas Plekanec, Scott Gomez, David Desharnais and Lars Eller,  all shoot from the left side. 

45-Michael Blunden - vs. Dallas Sept. 20/2011

24 year old right winger Michael Blunden (another righthand shot) is another forward to keep track of.  Although he’s not expected to make the team out of training camp, on a team of small forwards Blunden towers at 6’4”  and  211 lbs.  In July he was acquired from Columbus in return for Hamilton forward Ryan Russell after a minor league season  that was shortened to 37 games by a shoulder injury.  Blunden was credited with a team-leading six hits in the Dallas game Tuesday.

 Rookies earning a second consecutive start – Brendan Gallagher, who played all three forward positions against Buffalo; Gabriel Dumont, Alexander Avtsin and University of New Hampshire graduate Philip DeSimone who is in camp on a tryout contract.   The Canadiens must decide whether or not to sign the undrafted DeSimone to an AHL contract.

Although still at least a year away from the NHL, both the 20 year old RW Avtsin and centre Dumont have shown marked improvement over the last year.  Avtsin  has the size and skill-set to become a future top-six forward.   Dumont was a 50-goal scorer in his final year of junior who also was noted for his defense and intensity.  The offensive side of his game seems to be starting to finally emerge in the professional ranks.    In this game they’ll play together on a third line with veteran Mathieu Darche. 

The Defence

68-Yannick Weber   74-Alexei Yemelin;      

75-Hal Gill  –               61-Raphael Diaz;       

24-Alex Henry –       42-Jarred Tinordi

 The Forwards

67-Max Pacioretty        11-Scott Gomez               73-Brendan Gallagher

 46-Andrei Kostitsyn    63-Andreas Engqvist    72-Erik Cole;   

52-Mathieu Darche       37-Gabriel Dumont        36-Alexander Avtsin

59-Brock Trotter            48-Philip DeSimone       45-Michael Blunden             

The Numerical Lineup –

 31    PRICE, Carey    G
35    LAWSON, Nathan    G
11    GOMEZ, Scott    C
24    HENRY, Alex    D
36    AVTSIN, Alexander    RW
37    DUMONT, Gabriel    C
42    TINORDI, Jarred    D
45    BLUNDEN, Michael    RW
46    KOSTITSYN, Andrei    RW
48    DESIMONE, Philip    C
52    DARCHE, Mathieu      LW
59    TROTTER, Brock    C
61    DIAZ, Raphael    D
63    ENGQVIST, Andreas    C
67    PACIORETTY, Max      LW
68    WEBER, Yannick    D
72    COLE, Erik     RW
73    GALLAGHER, Brendan     RW
74    YEMELIN, Alexei    D
75    GILL, Hal    D