MONTREAL – With the Canadiens back home following their fruitful holiday road trip, there was no shortage of optimism in either the Habs’ dressing room or the team clinic.
“It’s funny how when a team is going well, injuries suddenly don’t hurt as much,” said head coach Guy Carbonneau with a smile. “The younger guys are playing really well for us for right now and it’s only natural for the older players that are injured to feel a little more pressure to get back in the lineup.”
Of the handful of players currently out of action for the Habs, Patrice Brisebois is closest to returning to his post.
“I’m feeling good, really good,” said Brisebois, who has been on the shelf since inuring his right shoulder against the Lightning on Dec. 11. “I felt no pain at practice and the doctors have given me the green light.
“I worked hard in the gym and it paid off,” added Brisebois. “I didn’t think it was a serious injury, but the team wanted to be extra careful and I think that was the right call. I’m feeling much better now, but the team is obviously playing well and it’s going to be up to Carbo decide when to put me back in the lineup. It’s up to me to be ready when he does.”
With eight of a possible 12 points in the bank and his team on a roll, Carbonneau doesn’t see any reason to unnecessarily rush his former teammate back into battle.
“I think we’ll give it one more game for Patrice,” said Carbonneau. “This was after all his first real practice and the team is going well right now. The few more days will do him some good to make sure he’s completely ready.”
The news isn’t quite as promising for Bryan Smolinski, but the veteran was glad to be back at practice with his teammates on Wednesday.
“It’s getting there and it was good to get back out there with the guys,” said Smolinski who has been out since straining his left knee in Boston back on Dec. 6. “I had the same injury to my right knee in 2000. I wore a brace on it that time and it does take a little getting used to.”
Also on the injury front, Steve Begin is still likely a couple of weeks away from returning from his right shoulder injury, while Ryan O’Byrne is expected to miss six weeks with a broken right thumb.