MONTREAL (CP) - Canadiens coach Bob Gainey is still crossing his fingers that he will be able to count on Steve Begin being back in the lineup in time for the playoffs.
However, Gainey could not give a specific timeline for his return.
"We won't see Steve in the remaining four (regular season) games that we have between now and the 18th," Gainey said after an optional workout at the Bell Centre. "I think there's a possibility that he could start the playoffs, depending on the progress he makes.
"If we see him on his skates and starting to participate in practice a week from now, then there is the possibility of him beginning the playoffs."
Begin sprained his left knee in last Saturday's 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. He was in front of the net when Devils defenceman Ken Klee hit him with a stick to the face. Begin fell backward and as he went down, his left knee folded under him.
In the past Begin has shown an ability to recover quickly from injuries, but Gainey preached prudence when asked if he could return any earlier than the playoffs.
"I don't think it's reasonable for him to be skating and feeling the way he would need to for next Tuesday," Gainey said. "But five or six days after that, which is a pretty big chunk of time, is the window that the doctors are talking about."