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Close to a comeback

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – After idling for seven games, Scott Gomez gets back to practicing with the Habs and hopes to join the team for their western swing.

Back in the fray: He may gave been wearing “no contact” blue Monday morning, but Scott Gomez was still clearly happy to be hitting the ice with his teammates for the first time since being sidelined with an upper-body injury on October 20.

“It’s terrible having to skate by yourself every morning, so to be able to be back with the team today and get in on the drills and get in on the jokes was great. I’m still day-to-day right now – we’ll see how I react tomorrow and go from there, but I felt good today,” dropped Gomez of his first team practice in over two weeks.

“We’re winning and that’s the important thing. It just shows you when we all get healthy what kind of a team we can be,” continue Gomez who was shelved after only seeing 2:40 of action in the Canadiens' only game against the Pens thus far in 2011-12. “I just want to get back into the lineup and contribute. It doesn’t matter where I play or how many minutes I play, I don’t feel like I’m owed anything. There are a lot of talented guys on this team. We’re all very close and it’s been great to see young guys like [Lars] Eller and Davey [Desharnais] playing so well.”

Settling in: With an average age of 26.8-years-old, the Oilers along with the Avalanche (26.5), the Jets (26.2), the Sabres (26.8) and the Blue Jackets (26.8) stand as one of the youngest teams in the NHL. But as  Desharnais pointed out, it’s not just the youthful enthusiasm of their forwards that’s helping Edmonton find success, but the leadership of their veteran core as well.

“They have a little more maturity going into this year. Most of them are playing in at least their second or third season,” said Desharnais on the subject of the Oilers' young guns. “They also have some fantastic veterans that came back, like Ryan Smyth for instance, who is really helping the team. They have the right mix now, and that’s probably why they’ve been finding success this year.”

Silver lining: While the Habs may have hit a stumbling block against the Rangers that ultimately ended their four-game win streak, veteran Hal Gill was quick to recognize that despite the loss, the team still managed to prove something to themselves Saturday night.

“There are going to be games where you go down right away, but I thought the important thing was that we stayed with it. Obviously you want to come out with the win, but we still need to prove to ourselves that we’re in every game. Whether we’re down at the beginning or not, we know we can compete,” mentioned Gill, whose 8:35 of shorthanded ice time went a long way towards killing off eight of nine Habs penalties against the Rangers.

“Being in the box that much kind of disrupts the flow of the game,” added the 36-year-old blue-liner. “Tomorrow night we need to focus on doing our jobs, staying out of the box and getting that rhythm going because when we do, that’s when this team is at its best.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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