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Weber on IR, Tatar and Poehling questionable against Anaheim

The Canadiens' captain will be sidelined for at least one week with a lower-body injury

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - The Canadiens were presented with a brand new obstacle on Thursday morning.

Head coach Claude Julien confirmed that captain Shea Weber was being placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, sidelining him for at least one week.

The 34-year-old defenseman suffered the injury earlier this week against the New Jersey Devils.

Julien indicated that the club's medical staff will have an opportunity to better evaluate the severity of Weber's injury once the swelling goes down.

With Weber on the shelf, blueliner Xavier Ouellet was recalled from the AHL's Laval Rocket fresh off a four-point performance (1g, 3a) against the Utica Comets at Place Bell.

His goal was actually the game-winner in overtime.

Tweet from @RocketLaval: Match de 4 points pour le capitaine 🔥4 points game for the captain 🔥@The_XMan16 🚨#UTIvsLAV #WitnessTheFuture #IciLAVenir #GoRocket

"I was very happy and excited to get the call. I've been working for a while to get back to the NHL. I feel ready," said Ouellet, who boasts nine goals and 24 points in 39 games with Laval this season. "My goal has always been to get back here. That never changed. It doesn't take away from my role in Laval and my responsibilities, but personally I want to be in the NHL. The fact that I have a chance like this, it's exactly what I want."

The 26-year-old Rocket captain's last appearance with the big club was on November 21, 2018, so it's easy to understand why the opportunity to return means so much to him.

He certainly earned the recall as a result of his strong play with Joel Bouchard's contingent.  

"I'm playing good hockey. I found a way to bring some consistency to my game. I found a way to have an impact every night," explained Ouellet. "I'm getting a lot of ice time, so it definitely helps in picking up points."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: 4 points hier soir avec le Rocket, entra��nement �� Brossard ce matin avec les Canadiens.4 points last night with the Rocket, practice this morning with the Habs.👋 Xavier Ouellet!#GoHabsGo

Julien was pleased to bring the former second-round selection back into the fold.

Ouellet brings plenty of experience to the club's back end, of course, with 160 NHL games under his belt between Detroit and Montreal.

"I know Xavier as a person. He's a good person. He's a good leader. He's a real professional. He's been playing well," praised Julien. "We're happy to give him this chance to come to Montreal and possibly see him play."

Sticking with some more news on the back end, Victor Mete should be in uniform versus Anaheim after battling the flu.

That darn flu bug

During his pregame press conference, Julien also confirmed that forwards Tomas Tatar and Ryan Poehling were questionable for Thursday night's game because of the flu.

As a result, the Canadiens recalled forward Jake Evans from the AHL's Laval Rocket.

The 23-year-old Toronto native, who scored a pair of goals against the Comets, currently leads Laval in scoring with 34 points (12g, 22a) in 48 games so far this season.

Tweet from @RocketLaval: Jake Evans en mission solo 💪🤩Jake Evans on a solo mission 💪🤩#UTIvsLAV #WitnessTheFuture #IciLAVenir #GoRocket

If Evans gets the nod, it would mark his NHL debut.

"He's someone we could see at center or on the wing. It would be his first regular-season game with us, so we'll have to give him the chance to prove himself," said Julien. "I just want him to be comfortable playing his game. The last thing I want for him is to feel nervous and afraid of making mistakes. We always encourage players being called up to be comfortable with what they're doing and realize they're here because they did something well there. We don't want them to change that."

Ouellet is a big fan of the University of Notre Dame grad, who was a seventh-round pick of the Canadiens (207th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Tweet from @RocketLaval: Evans 🚨🚨KK 🍎🍎🍎X-MAN 🍎🍎🍎Les gars sont en 🔥Boys are in 🔥#UTIvsLAV #WitnessTheFuture #IciLAVenir #GoRocket

"He's having a good season. He works hard. He's a good young player. I'm happy for him," mentioned Ouellet. "He's very smart with the puck, and he doesn't make a lot of mistakes."

For his part, forward Jordan Weal won't be available against the Ducks because of the flu.

Talk about desire

Ilya Kovalchuk's family will be joining him in Montreal on Thursday, so don't be surprised if he finds a way to be a difference-maker again for his new squad.

"They'll be at the game tonight, so I've got to bring some energy," said Kovalchuk with a smile. "It'll be nice for the kids to see some snow. It'll be fun for them."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Les biblioth��caires adorent Ilya.Librarians love him.#GoHabsGo

The 36-year-old father of four has been nothing but impressive since joining the group one month ago, chipping in with five goals and 10 points in 13 games.

But the Russian sniper insists he can be even more productive offensively.

"I can do way more than that, and I know that. I feel more comfortable with the guys, with the city, and with the organization, so I think I can play much better," stated Kovalchuk. "The point production, the goals, I should score more, especially at home."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: 🤫🤫🤫#GoHabsGo

And he desperately wants to help the Canadiens clinch a playoff spot.

"That's our goal. Not one guy quit here. I know the other teams have some games in hand, but you never know," said Kovalchuk. "We're just going to go one game at a time and we'll see what happens."

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