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Back to business in Brossard

The Habs held their first practice since the bye week and All-Star breaks, and are hopeful that some key members of the team's offense are getting closer to a return

by Dan Braverman @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - Looking refreshed and with an extra skip in their skates, so to speak, the Habs were back at work at the Bell Sports Complex on Sunday after taking advantage of their bye week and All-Star breaks.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Ils sont de retour. 🤗The boys are back. #GoHabsGo

Max Domi told reporters he "loves" getting the chance to take a breather from the grind of the NHL season, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing his captain, Shea Weber, win the Hardest Shot event at the All-Star Skills Competition on Friday in St. Louis.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: "We kind of knew he was going to win."Domi on Weber winning the Hardest Shot competition.#GoHabsGo

"I kind of knew he was going to win, obviously, but I'm happy for him. It was his seventh All-Star game he's been to. His career has been remarkable and he just keeps building on it," praised Domi of Weber, who was given the day off from practice after a late return from St. Louis the night before. "I know he's excited about the second half here; we all are as a group. We're all refreshed and ready to go."

Video: Max Domi on Weber winning Hardest Shot

Winners of four of their last five games heading into the week off, one has to wonder if the timing of the break wasn't the greatest for a team that would've liked to build on that momentum as it fights to reclaim a spot in the postseason.

For Phillip Danault, however, getting to step away and reset is equally beneficial.

"The mental break is really there. It may add a few back-to-backs, but I think the mental break is really important," affirmed Phillip Danault, who had five points (1G, 4A) in his last three games before the time off. "I'm ok with it."

Video: Phillip Danault on the bye week break

While the Habs' schedule in February is quite condensed as a result of the break - they have 15 games lined up for the month - Max Domi pointed out that they'll be employing the time-honored mentality of taking things one contest at a time.

"Just worry about tomorrow. Game one, that's all we're going to really focus on, it's all we're going to talk about, it's all that matters," asserted Domi, referring to Monday's game against the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre. "It's a good team coming in here, they obviously have a lot of veteran players, a lot of experience. They know how to win, and we have to be ready to go."

Video: Max Domi on Weber winning Hardest Shot

The Caps will be without their captain when they take to the Bell Centre ice on Monday, however, as Alex Ovechkin will have to serve a one-game suspension after opting out of the All-Star Game.

Fellow Russian Ilya Kovalchuk may be fond of his compatriot, but he's not going to be too upset that he won't be facing off against the eight-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner.

"Sorry, I'm not. Because lately, he was hot, so it's good that he is going to start the next game," cracked Kovalchuk, who has eight points (4G, 4A) in as many games with the Canadiens. "They have so many weapons without him and they're a great team. They're the Stanley Cup champions from a year ago. They're in first place now, so we have to make sure we're ready and just play our game, work hard, and good things will happen."

Video: Kovalchuk on facing the Capitals without Ovechkin


Head coach Claude Julien provided some updates on injured forwards Brendan Gallagher, Paul Byron, and Jonathan Drouin, who skated after the team's full practice on Sunday.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Selon Claude Julien, Gallagher, Byron et Drouin patinent tous �� des niveaux diff��rents, mais aucun d���entre eux n���est pr��t �� revenir au jeu demain.Gallagher, Byron, and Drouin are all skating to various degrees, but none are ready to return tomorrow, says Julien.#GoHabsGo

Julien said that while none of the three would be available against Washington, he was hopeful that Gallagher might be able to return sometime this week.

In Drouin's case, the coach said that he was still healing his injury and is simultaneously working on his conditioning, but couldn't say more until the team's medical staff could evaluate him in the coming days.

While Gallagher and Drouin were skating in full equipment on Sunday, Byron was on the ice in a tracksuit. Julien said he is a little further away from a return than his fellow wingers.

The Canadiens-Capitals game is set for 7:00 p.m. on Monday. For tickets, click here.

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