OTTAWA – Jaroslav Spacek will be back where he belongs when the puck drops on Thursday night.
Seven weeks, 23 games and one arthroscopic surgery later, the 37-year-old defenseman is ready to slide back into his usual spot, patrolling the Habs blue line and cracking up his teammates in the dressing room.
“It was more up to me [than coach Jacques Martin] if I felt ready or not. We had the discussion a few days ago and I feel pretty good. I will play tonight,” confirmed Spacek, who will be back in the lineup on Thursday for the first time since February 12. “I’ve had a couple of big skates and lots of strength work with our conditioning coach [Pierre Allard] and I feel pretty good. My leg is holding up pretty well and there’s no swelling anymore so it’s time to come back.”
With a playoff spot locked up, Spacek will be spending the last two games of the season getting ready for springtime hockey.
“I would like to play more
than two games before the playoffs, but what happened, happened so I’m just happy I can play these two games,” he admitted. “For me, you can’t just practice; you have to play. Even practicing with the guys at a high tempo isn’t the same; games are different. The tempo in the playoffs will be even higher than these two games, but I’m happy to get these in.”
Spacek’s return will likely mean fewer minutes for P.K. Subban
, whose ice time has skyrocketed to 22:14 this season – second among all NHL rookies. The 21-year-old phenom is looking forward to sharing the load with the 11-year NHL veteran to close out the year.
“Obviously Spacho is a big part of this team and he was a big part of this team last year in the playoffs,” stressed Subban, who was called up for his first taste of NHL postseason action last spring when Spacek was out with health problems. “It’s a great boost for our team having him back.
“Anytime you can bring back a guy like that with his kind of experience, it’s going to help your team,” he added. “He’s had some time off to rest and recover. He’s coming back energetic and he wants to play and with our team, that’s what we need.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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