EDMONTON – Erik Cole comes “home”, Aaron Palushaj is seeing clearly and Randy Cunneyworth makes work fun.
Old stomping grounds…kind of: Picture Erik Cole in his pre-Habs days and there’s a good chance the first image that comes to mind is of the bruising power forward – complete with bushy playoff beard – hoisting the Cup in a Hurricanes jersey. A staple in the Carolina community for nine seasons before moving to Montreal this summer, it’s easy to forget the 63-game stint Cole spent in Edmonton in 2008-09 before being traded back to his original NHL team. His career in the provincial capital may have been short, but it helped prepare him for life in his current hockey home.
“I think my time here certainly helped me with the transition to life in a hockey crazed market,” shared the 33-year-old winger, who hit the 20-goal benchmark for the fifth time in his career this season. “I still try and discreetly try and make my way around town. I don’t live on the island so I can go a little more unnoticed which is kind of nice. I know the fans are disappointed and we certainly share in their disappointment.
Y’arr, matey!: It’s hard to use the word “lucky” to describe an injury, but when not one but two players manage to walk away with only minor damage after getting clipped in the eye by sticks in the same game, there has to be at least a small element of luck at play. After missing the last few outings with eye injuries suffered in the Minnesota game last Thursday, Scott Gomez and Aaron Palushaj have received the green light to suit up against the Oilers and can now officially count themselves lucky that the only souvenirs they have from their respective incidents are a couple of used eye patches and longer visors attached to their helmets.
“It was a little freaky, especially since they both happened in the same game,” admitted Palushaj, who travelled to Edmonton with Gomez on Tuesday afternoon. “I was very scared, especially right when it happened because I didn’t know how bad or severe it was. I couldn’t really open my eye. I got the stitches there and they said they didn’t think it was too serious so I was glad to hear that. It sucked not being able to finish the game and having to miss a few games but I’m grateful that there’s no long term injury.
“I lengthened [my visor] a little bit so it’s down around my nose and I was told I can’t tilt it up so I’m going to have to get used to playing with a little longer visor,” he added. “It’ll fog up a little more but other than that it’s no problem.”
Love what you do: There’s an old expression that when you choose a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. That could explain why, despite being put through a tough, 75 minute workout at Rexall Place on Wednesday afternoon, the Habs were in good spirits, enjoying their extra reps and battle drills.
“You know what? Today was hard work and if that’s fun, we have to do that a little more often,” confirmed head coach Randy Cunneyworth. “There was a lot of contact today. That’s something I felt we didn’t do enough of last night. We worked at it today and hopefully that will filter into tomorrow’s game. There are plenty of things that go into the formula to compete and work hard and try to get the ‘W’. We have to have more of that."
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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