Canadiens Game Day: Proud papa Phillip Danault returns to lineup
|Montreal Gazette 21 Feb 2019 at 10:17|
There were 10 skaters and two goaltenders on the ice and the only news was that the three players who missed practice Wednesday ā Shea Weber, Carey Price and Phillip Danault ā were on the ice.
Weber and Price took the day off Wednesday for some rest, while Danault was excused after his wife gave birth to the coupleās first child ā a boy named Phillip-Ćdouard ā at 5:23 a.m. Wednesday.
āItās been a crazy couple of days,ā said Danault, who skipped Tuesdayās 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets after his wife went into labour. āIām glad the baby came now before we go on the road, and Iām glad we won and weāre back in the playoffs.ā
Canadiens fans celebrate with Phillip Danault after his second-period goal against the Florida Panthers in Montreal on Jan. 15, 2019. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette
Danault acknowledged that February has been a good month for him. He was traded to the Canadiens on Feb. 26, 2015, and now thereās a February birthday to celebrate.
āSome good things have happened (in February) but now Iām looking for something good in June,ā said Danault, referring to the month in which they hand out the Stanley Cup.
Newcomer Nate Thompson filled in for Danault on Tuesday and had a strong game, winning 10 of 15 faceoffs.
āThompson came in last game and did a great job in (Danaultās) absence, but when Phil comes back to the lineup it gives us a little more depth up the middle,ā said Canadiens head coach Claude Julien.
Danault is having a career season with 40 points, including 11 goals, and he has a plus/minus rating of plus-15 while playing against the oppositionās top lines.
āI think itās experience,ā Julien said when asked about Danaultās improvement. āIn the faceoff circle, heās taken a lot of pride in getting better there and heās been asked to do a lot this year because weāre a team that has an 18-year-old centre (Jesperi Kotkaniemi) so thereās a little bit more pressure for him to step into certain situations, like late in the game, key faceoffs, that kind of stuff. I think heās embraced that, heās loving the challenge.
āA lot of players have progressed this year and itās always easier to progress when youāre in a positive situation, which weāve been as compared to last year,ā added Julien.
The Flyers have been making a late-season push for the playoffs and have a 13-3-1 record in their last 17 games. They have best faceoff record in the NHL (55.9 per cent) and that poses a challenge for Danault, who leads the Canadiens with a 53.57-per-cent success rate on draws.
āI know (Claude) Giroux (59.66 per cent) is good and Sean Couturier (57.11), too, so we have to make sure we bear down on the faceoffs and the wingers have to help, too,ā Danault said.
āI was focused on being better physically, mentally, on the ice. And Iāve got the kid now and itās been a good year, and now you want to make the playoffs and move on,ā said Danault. āI think the most improvement has been defensively. I bring the maturity in my game so I can play against the big lines. By playing good defensively, I bring the offence.ā
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