Of the Canadiens' two iron men from the 2005-06 season, Craig Rivet (right) will be back on the blue line Tuesday, while Mathieu Dandenault is sidelined indefinitely.
MONTREAL - When Bob Gainey acquired veteran defenseman Janne Niinimaa just prior to the start regular season, the Habs' GM mentioned that it was difficult to predict when one of his defenseman would fall in battle, let alone two. But during the third period of Saturday's showdown with the Senators, Gainey must have felt like he had a premonition that day.
Almost on cue, both Craig Rivet and Mathieu Dandenault left the ice hobbling, one after blocking a shot and the other after delivering a hit. While head coach Guy Carbonneau was able to breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of Rivet and his dinged heel being back on the ice with his teammates at practice Monday morning, the news was not as rosy for Dandenault.
"It really just came out of the blue, but I felt it right away that something was wrong," said a dejected Mathieu Dandenault, who suffered a torn hamstring after not missing a game since joining the Canadiens last summer. "I've never experienced anything like this before, it felt like the muscle had detached. I'll have to see how it goes and it will depend on how I respond to treatment."
Carbonneau is aware that he will be without the three-time Stanley Cup winner for the foreseeable future.
"We don't exactly know how long Mathieu will be out, but it is a tear that's going to take time to heal," admitted Carbonneau. "It's never easy to see a player go down and it's especially tough when you consider how well Dandenault has played so far this season."
With Dandenault out, Mark Streit will get to make his season debut after sitting out Montreal's first four games, with the Swiss blue liner slated to take Dandenault's spot alongside Janne Niinimaa.
"Mark worked really hard ever since the beginning of training camp and he deserves his shot," said Carbonneau of Streit, who enjoyed a solid preseason with the 28-year-old notching a goal and two assists in five games. "Even when we picked up Niinimaa, Mark never hung his head or stopped working. I know he'll be ready to step in."
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.