BROSSARD, Que. --
An intra-squad scrimmage on the opening day of training camp is rarely anything to get excited about for most NHL veterans.
But for Josh Gorges
and Max Pacioretty
, Saturday's scrimmage was a pretty momentous occasion.
It represented the first semblance of competitive hockey for the two coming back from major injuries, and at least for Gorges, it made him a bit uneasy.
"To be honest, there were some nerves last night and this morning about how it was going to be when the checking came in and the speed picked up a little bit," Gorges said. "It was fun to be out there with the guys playing some hockey."
Gorges hasn't played in an NHL game since December, when he damaged the meniscus in his right knee, the same knee that had a torn ACL in it since he has playing junior hockey with the Kelowna Rockets.
Gorges said his nerves had nothing to do with his injury, but more his timing and level of rustiness. He also feels it's important to arrive at training camp on edge.
"It was Day 1, so it doesn't mean everything, but it was big for me," Gorges said. "I'm still fighting for a job, that's how I'm looking at it. I want to earn my spot back on this team."
Pacioretty was also playing in his first full contact scrimmage since suffering a broken neck and concussion in March. He didn't speak to reporters afterwards, but he said Wednesday that he was eager to get his first body check out of the way and that he would ask his teammates to provide it.
He didn't have to wait long.
Newcomer Alexei Yemelin
spun Pacioretty through the air with a hip check early in the scrimmage, something Pacioretty didn't appear to take too kindly to.
However, he got back on his feet and showed little fear in his game, driving the net and playing the type of game that made Pacioretty one of the hottest scorers in the League at the time of his injury.
"Max used his speed, got hit and showed he's ready to make a difference for this club this season," coach Jacques Martin said. "He went to the net a couple of times, and that's the type of player we need."
While Gorges and Pacioretty were returning from injuries, Scott Gomez
was a casualty of the first day of camp as he left practice with what Martin termed a lower-body injury. He said his case will be re-evaluated on a day-to-day basis.