BROSSARD – Four former Canadiens will back in Montreal Tuesday night as the Habs take on the Dallas Stars.
Past the pain: Sixty games into a regular NHL season, it’s pretty rare to find a player lacing up for a game at 100%. After taking Monday’s practice off to tend to a few bumps and bruises, veteran Erik Cole was back at work Tuesday morning, out on the ice for a short skate with his team. One of only five members of the Canadiens’ roster to not have missed a single game in a season plagued with injuries for the Habs, Cole isn’t about to see that change with a another crucial tilt only hours away.
“Over the course of a career you see a lot of really tough guys play even if they aren’t in great shape. I think pretty much as long as something’s not broken or it can’t get aggravated further, everyone plays. Cole is a warrior and I have no doubt that he’ll be in tonight’s game,” said Cole’s linemate, David Desharnais, another member of this year’s perfect attendance club.
“He’s there in every game, always going into the tough areas. It’s not by accident the guys has 22 goals. He sets a great example for everyone on the team,” continued Desharnais of his teammate, who head coach Randy Cunneyworth confirmed would be in the lineup on Tuesday night. “In other leagues I’d play three games in three nights, but in the NHL it’s totally different. When things get rough, you’re really putting what your body can take to the test. It’s pretty intense.”
Big shot: Arriving with the Dallas Stars, former Habs, Stephane Robidas, Michael Ryder, Mike Ribeiro and Sheldon Souray will all be making a return to Montreal for Tuesday’s game. While Michael Ryder may have already been back on multiple occasions as a member of the Bruins, the Canadiens-Stars game will only mark Sheldon Souray’s second time back – the first having been a one goal, one assist effort with Edmonton. One of the only players still left on the Habs current roster to have played alongside Souray, Josh Gorges offered a few words on his former teammate.
“He’s a guy with one of the best shots in the league. I’m not exactly sure what speed he can shoot at, but in game situations, he’s good at getting hard shots off very quickly. It’s not only his slapshots either – even when he takes a snap shot, there a lot of power behind it,” dropped Gorges of the blue-liner with the booming shot who hammered in 26 goals in his final season with Montreal in 2006-07.
“It was just a matter of him finding his niche in an organization that was going to use him the right way, and it’s good to see him bounce back like this after having a couple of rough years,” continued Gorges on Souray’s re-emergence with the Stars after spending time back in the AHL. “He was always a quality player and a quality teammate. I only had the chance to play with him for a short time but I’m happy to see him having the success that he is this year.”
Chicken soup: After being shelved by a virus for the Canadiens’ Sunday game against the Devils, Louis Leblanc was back at practice in fine form Tuesday morning. Finishing out the morning skate, the 21-year-old Habs rookie offered up a promising self-diagnosis on beating the bug that’s been ailing him for the past couple of days.
“I’m feeling a lot better. I think it’s the end of the virus right now. The last two days were pretty rough – I didn’t have a lot of energy and was just feeling very tired, so it was great to get back out there today. I think I’m ready to go. It’s up to them to decide if they want to put me in the lineup now,” claimed the Hamilton call-up who’s quickly carved out a spot for himself in the Canadiens’ lineup.
Leblanc, who has played 23 games with the club, posting seven points and a plus-4 differential in that span, also had a few words on going up against a former Hab who will be making a first-ever return to the Bell Centre Tuesday night.
“I think [Mike] Ribeiro shows a lot of skill and he obviously scored a really great goal last week,” expressed Leblanc, who would have only been 15 years old when Ribeiro departed for Dallas. “He’s a great player and I grew up watching him here at the Bell Centre, but hopefully we can shut him down tonight.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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