KANATA - Karl Alzner was patiently waiting for this moment.
The veteran defenseman, who was recalled from the AHL's Laval Rocket on an emergency basis on Friday night, will play his first NHL game since January 10, 2019 against the St. Louis Blues.
The 31-year-old Burnaby, BC native wasn't entirely certain that the opportunity to play at hockey's highest level this season would eventually come.
"I didn't expect it at all, but at the same time, I'm happy to get back," mentioned Alzner, following Saturday's morning skate at the Canadian Tire Centre. "It's been pretty much a year since I've got an NHL game in, so I'm happy about it just to be around the rink and see the guys. The energy seems to be good, so it'll be fun."
Alzner was in uniform for the Rocket on Friday night at Place Bell. Joel Bouchard's contingent posted a 4-1 win over the Manitoba Moose. The former fifth-overall selection of the Washington Capitals finished the contest with a plus-2 differential.
Alzner will provide some much-needed help to a defense corps that recently lost both Victor Mete and Xavier Ouellet to injuries.
"He's a guy with a lot of experience in the NHL. I think he's having a good season in Laval," said head coach Claude Julien during his pregame press conference. "We'll see what he can bring to us tonight."
Julien is pairing Alzner alongside Christian Folin. The pair formed a duo for several games with Laval.
"I think one of the games we played together was in Syracuse, and it was definitely one of the most fun games that I've played," praised Alzner. "I think we did pretty good that game. He had a couple of nice plays and we had some good talk going, so we have a little chemistry."
Video: Karl Alzner on being recalled from the Laval Rocket
Seeing some familiar faces
Alzner had a chance to catch up with a few of his buddies during Saturday morning's on-ice session at the Canadian Tire Centre.
And they were stoked to see him again.
"I'm so excited for him. I think every guy was probably just as excited as him or more. He's just a great guy," mentioned Nate Thompson. "He's going to help us on the ice, but I think he's a huge boost in our locker room, too, having him around. I'm extremely happy for him."
Video: Nate Thompson on Karl Alzner
For his part, Julien is happy to have Alzner back in the fold as well.
"Karl Alzner has always had a good attitude. He's always been a good person. It isn't surprising. It's a part of his personality," affirmed Julien. "He had a good attitude in Laval, and he came here with that same attitude. It's one of his strong points."
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.