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Tonight’s Habs lineup: Opening-night roster begins to take shape

The Canadiens will ice what may be very close to what they’ll run with on Thursday night.

NHL: SEP 16 Preseason - Devils at Canadiens Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With an optional skate this morning, we didn’t see the lines that take to the ice at home versus the Ottawa Senators tonight, but we do know who won’t be playing.

This morning’s optional skate featured the three goaltenders still at camp — Carey Price, Keith Kinkaid, and Charlie Lindgren — as well as five skaters. Defencemen Mikey Reilly and Christian Folin were taking part in drills, as were forwards Nate Thompson, Charles Hudon, and Jonathan Drouin.

After the skate, Claude Julien stated that all five skaters would not be in the lineup on Saturday night:

Reilly and Folin are likely the two defenders at camp who won’t be in the lineup to start the season. Victor Mete, Ben Chiarot, and Brett Kulak force Reilly out on the left side, while Cale Fleury’s pre-season performance has all but solidified him as the third man behind the duo of Shea Weber and Jeff Petry on the right.

It’s also no surprise that Nate Thompson is the victim of the surge from Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki over the past six months. Someone has to go if they’re going to make the team, and Thompson could be that choice. Hudon was used sparingly by Julien a season ago, and despite a decent showing in pre-season, he also may not be in the coach’s vision for the team in 2019-20.

Jonathan Drouin’s situation has been discussed a lot in training camp, and as the team puts essentially its main NHL roster on the ice this evening, the 2013 third-overall pick is left on the sidelines. Julien stated the forward had reached the maximum number of games for a veteran in the pre-season, but there will still be some questions lingering about this decision so close to the start of the new campaign.

It’s not hard to see tonight’s formation being the same one the team chooses for the first game of the season versus the Carolina Hurricanes. However, there are still decisions that need to be made in the coming days to get the count of healthy bodies down to 23. Suzuki and Poehling are ones to watch, but keeping an eye on the left-wing situation, with Drouin, Paul Byron, and Nick Cousins all in the mix for two regular spots, might be a good idea as well.