MONTREAL - A familiar face was back on the ice Thursday morning at the Bell Centre with injured
defenseman Mathieu Dandenault having taken his first steps on the comeback trail.
|Sidelined since Oct. 14, Mathieu Dandenault will join his teammates on their four-game road trip. |
Wearing a smile you don't often see on a player's face following a grueling NHL practice, a determined Dandenault was cautiously optimistic about the progress of his torn left hamstring.
"I've been back on the ice with Francis [Bouillon] and Scott Livingston for the past week," said Dandenault, of private practice sessions with his fellow injured defenseman and the Habs' strength and conditioning coordinator. "Today marked the next step: being back on the ice with the team."
It has been four weeks since Dandenault left the ice hobbling during a 3-2 shootout loss to the Senators on Oct.14 at the Bell Centre. The resilient blue-liner was one of only two Canadiens players to have suited up for all 82 games last season along with Craig Rivet.
"I'm making the trip with the team because at this stage I need to be practicing with the rest of the guys," explained the 30-year-old. "But I'm not 100 per cent at this point. Some tests I underwent on Wednesday showed that I'm not completely healed yet. It's important that I be just as strong, if not even stronger than before to make sure I don't aggravate the injury once I come back."
His head coach was also encouraged by the sight of Dandenault being back at practice with his teammates. But like Dandenault, Guy Carbonneau was unable to pinpoint exactly when No. 25 would be back in the lineup.
"He will not be in the lineup against the Leafs on Saturday night," confirmed Carbonneau. "But we expect him to be back soon."
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com