BROSSARD -- For Max Pacioretty
and Josh Gorges
, Wednesday night’s 7:30 p.m. puck drop against the Sabres can’t come fast enough.
Even with a handful of prospects ready to make their Bell Centre debuts, it was clear following the team’s morning skate that both Pacioretty and Gorges were among the most anxious in the room to hear the game’s opening siren.
“I’m sure he’s feeling just as excited as I am to get back out there tonight,” started Gorges. “But I’ve been absolutely dying for these eight-and-a-half months to get on the ice and play a real game so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
One of the Habs’ toughest competitors, Gorges’ knee gave out in a December 26 game against the Islanders last year, ultimately requiring season-ending ACL surgery. The idea was for Gorges to return for the 2011-12 season in better shape than ever, and so far, it would seem that everything’s gone according to plan.
“I feel like my stride had become a little more stable since coming back, it stays in more of a straight line and that helps me to be more efficient,” explained No. 26, who will be mentoring the young Nathan Beaulieu
in his first game back. “It feels great. This is the best it’s felt in years. The doctors have looked at it and they all said that this is as strong as it’s going to be. Of course there's always a risk when you play, but I’m not going to second guess myself or my knee. Like I said, right now I feel great.”
Further down the row of stalls, the same sentiments were being echoed by Pacioretty, who will be making his return to action following a concussion and fractured vertebrae sustained on March 8 of last season. With newcomer Erik Cole
having sustained a similar injury in his time with Carolina, Pacioretty can look forward to having the veteran’s advice on hand whenever it’s needed.
“Last year Cole actually called Gio and offered that if I wanted some advice or to talk, that he was there to listen,” said Pacioretty. “So when he came to camp this year the first thing I did was go up to him and thank him for the offer. Instantly, he started giving me some pointers on the best way to roll out my neck, to stretch it and how it was going to feel after different situations.”
According to the sophomore Habs forward, he doesn’t plan to change a thing about his game as he prepares to flank Brian Gionta
and David Desharnais
in tonight’s match-up against the Sabres.
“I like being the bigger guy on the line because I’m expected to play a little more physical. That’s what makes me successful so it’s something I’m not going to change,” he confirmed. “I’ve received a couple of hits already and I felt good, now it’s time to give out a few and get back to playing my game.”Lines at practice :
Gionta – Desharnais – Pacioretty
Gallagher – Engqvist – Moen
Darche – Dumont – Avtsin
Palushaj – Bishop – DeSimone
Henry – Subban
Beaulieu – Gorges
St.Denis - Spacek
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.SEE ALSOHabs lineup vs. Buffalo First time's a charm Test drive 59 players still in camp