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Froese debuts, Shaw to play, Drouin and Weber out

Byron Froese will play his first-ever game with the Canadiens on Thursday night against Minnesota

by Staff Writer @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - After being recalled from the AHL's Laval Rocket, Byron Froese will make his Habs debut on Thursday night.

The 26-year-old forward, who was named the first captain in Rocket history last week, amassed three goals and 11 points in 13 games with Laval before joining the big club.

No doubt the lifelong Habs fan would like to make a good first impression against the Wild, as the Canadiens go in search of their fourth straight victory. 

"I'm very excited for the opportunity to show what I have and what I can contribute," said Froese, who boasts 62 games of NHL experience with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning. "I feel good about where I'm at right now. I feel like I got a little more confidence than I had at camp and I'm excited to get back out there and play again."

Video: Byron Froese on making his Habs debut

Nevertheless, the Winkler, MB isn't planning on letting that enthusiasm get the best of him. 

"I think I'm going to play a pretty simple game tonight, getting the pucks in deep and getting to the front of the net and shooting everything I get," explained, Froese, who signed a two-year contract with Montreal on Canada Day. "That's my game plan."

Head coach Claude Julien is already a fan of Froese's skill set and he's eager to see him in action against Minnesota.

"He's the type of player who plays with intensity and does the little things right. He has experience in this league and he was named captain of the Rocket because he's a leader," praised Julien. "He can play center or wing. He's versatile and we're hoping that he will allow us to feature a solid fourth line. He's a player who shows up every game. That's what we're asking him to do."

Julien will also be able to count on a healthy Andrew Shaw in his lineup on Thursday night. Shaw took part in the optional morning skate on the South Shore after being given a therapy day and missing practice on Wednesday.

"I'm ready to go, just sometimes you need a day," said Shaw, who picked up an assist in the Canadiens' most recent outing - a 3-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. "We weren't happy with the way the game went [against Minnesota last Thursday]. We were a little embarrassed, especially how it started. We made a push, but it wasn't enough. Tonight, we need to play a full 60 starting from puck drop."

Video: Byron Froese on making his Habs debut

For his part, Jonathan Drouin's status is still uncertain. Like Shaw, Drouin was given a therapy day on Wednesday, but returned to the ice on Thursday morning. 

"I still don't know if I'm going to play. We'll have a look at things with the medical staff, I won't say where the problem is, but I felt good this morning and we'll have a look at what the best option is," mentioned Drouin, who suffered an upper-body injury against Vegas and was forced to leave the game. "It'll be the right decision for me and the team. We're on a good streak right now, we're playing well and the goalies are, too. All of that combined makes it fun to play hockey."

If the Canadiens do manage to come out on top and secure their eighth victory of the season, they'll finally reach the .500 mark, which has eluded them since early October.

"It isn't easy to get back to that level, especially with the hole we dug for ourselves. We've done good work lately to give ourselves a chance," said Julien, who will feature Charlie Lindgren between the pipes against his hometown team. "If you don't win, it will take at least another two games to get there, so we have to take advantage of the situation."

Video: Claude Julien's press conference

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