Vancouver Canucks forward Andrew Ebbett couldn't help but cringe a little when he watched Washington star Alexander Ovechkin collide with Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg while watching the playoffs on television Thursday night.
It was eerily similar to his impact with the sturdy Bruins blueliner on Jan. 7, a ferocious hit that broke Ebbett’s collarbone badly in two places.
So seeing a similarly explosive collision on the eve of making his own playoff debut brought back memories for Ebbett, who will replace the suspended Byron Bitz for Game 2 against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night.
“It definitely reminded me of the hit for sure, just seeing the impact these two had,” Ebbett said. “It brings back memories from when he hit me.”
Ebbett still has a four-inch plate and nine screws in his shoulder and a jagged scar across the front of his collarbone from two fractures the surgeon in Boston called the worst he’d seen. So the fact he’s back for the playoffs after working to return for the final four games of the regular season, means that much more.
“I had doubts the first two weeks when I was in bed and on the couch but once I got here and in the gym and talking to doctors and trainer we knew this was our goal and it's nice to achieve it,” Ebbett said.
Ebbett will take the place of Bitz, who received a two-game suspension for driving Kyle Clifford face first into the boards in Game 1, on the fourth line. But the versatile Ebbett could also see some second unit power-play time, and with five goals in just 18 games this season, adds another scoring touch.
More than anything, he’s just happy to be back after a regular season that also included missing more than a month after breaking his foot while blocking a shot against the Kings on Nov. 10, a game in which he also scored.
“It's been a long year, it’s been a little frustrating at times, but those three months of working the gym and rehabbing, this is what I’ve been working for to get back to here,” he said. “I’m going to play as well as I can to hopefully stay in.”
And stay healthy for a change.