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Crunch time

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – Ryan White will make his debut as the Habs host the Bruins for their last – and most crucial – meeting of 2011-12.

After a long season of rehabilitation, recovery and waiting, Ryan White is geared up and ready to make his return to Canadiens’ lineup Wednesday night. A win by the home team would not only get the Habs back into the win column, where they desperately need to be, but it would also propel them another rung up the Eastern Conference ladder putting them within five points of the eighth place Maple Leafs.

Ryan White on his first game back

“I wanted to go into this season ready to prove myself and prove that I’m an NHL player, so it’s been really tough not to be playing. Now I have the opportunity to get back in the lineup and show what I can do, so I’m going to be ready for it,” dropped White who has waited 57 long games to make his impact felt as part of the Canadiens’ lineup.

Considering the brand of hockey the hard-hitting forward is known for playing, he couldn’t have picked a better moment to jump back into the mix.

“Not only are they obviously huge rivals of ours, but they’re the Cup champs and a team that’s doing well, so this is a big two points for us tonight,” added White, who in four career match-ups with the Bruins, has accumulated 17 penalty minutes – more than he has against any other team. “I personally like playing against these guys because it’s really my style of hockey. It’s going to be a tough atmosphere tonight, but that’s what I look for.”

While the bad blood between the teams may have been a bit more subdued this season, don’t expect any less intensity when the Habs and Bruins face off at the Bell Centre. After losing four of their last six games – including three shutouts against – the Bruins will likely be looking to take their frustrations out on the Montreal squad, who for their part, have a lot more at stake than just pride.

“Last year, the games between us were pretty extreme – so far this year it hasn’t quite been the same thing,” explained Lars Eller who will be looking to help the Habs nab their fifth win in six games on Wednesday night. “Everyone seems a little more relaxed, but that doesn’t mean there aren't going to be just as many emotions out there tonight. We have to start out concentrated on our own game, and stay that way until the end.

“White should bring a lot of energy tonight,” finished the Dane of his teammate’s well-timed return to action. “This is the perfect time for him to come back, and he hasn’t played for a long time, so he should be hungry tonight. We know what he brings to the table and it’ll be good to have him back out there.”

After a disappointing loss to the Hurricanes, Randy Cunneyworth will be looking for a bounce-back effort from his team against the Bruins. While consistency issues and errors undid the Habs in their last outing, the head coach knows there’s no better time than the present to right those wrongs.

“At this time of year, we need 20 guys playing the kind of hockey that allows us to win games – and that’s desperate at both ends,” said Cunneyworth. “We know that mistakes are going to be made – they’re made all the time – it’s how we correct them that’s important.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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