BROSSARD -- After a quick Wednesday morning skate in Brossard, the Canadiens take to the sky and make their way West.
Locked in a tie with the Bruins for first-place in the Northeast Divison and preparing to face some of the best in the west over the upcoming week, this Heritage Classic road-trip could prove one of the Habs’ most important of the season.
With Canadiens’ blue-liner, Jaroslav Spacek sidelined with a lower-body injury and unable to make the trip, the young Brendon Nash
will take his place during the Habs’ western swing, after only his first NHL outing.
“It’s obviously a much quicker game, but it started to slow down the longer I was out there and the more shifts I played. It’s still all a bit of a blur, getting called up just yesterday and playing right away last night,” admitted Nash who, despite his whirlwind day, adjusted nicely come game-time, tying P.K. Subban
with a game-high four blocked shots while logging just under 12 minutes of ice time.
“This is going to be my first NHL road trip and I really can’t think of a better one to be going on. It’s a dream come true road trip in a way, getting to go to all these great places and getting to go to the Heritage Classic on top of it. I wasn’t sure that I was making the trip, but now that I know I’m going, I’ll give my folks a call and let them know. I’m from Kamloops so hopefully some people can make it down.”
While the Habs may be missing the presence of one veteran defenseman on their trip, with any luck they’ll be getting another one back in the lineup. Despite sitting for the past three games with an upper-body injury, defenseman Hal Gill will be heading west with the Canadiens.
“I’m going to make the trip with the team and keep working and keep talking to the trainers to try to get back in as soon as I can,” promised Gill, who hopes to make his return for the Heritage Classic.
“Everything’s been coming along really well and I’m feeling stronger every day. It’s tough not to let the fact that a lot of other people are missing affect the decision and timing of when you come back," he added. "It’s human nature to want to get back out there as fast as possible, especially when the team’s already dealing with so many injuries.”
Another member of the Habs who can look forward to a homecoming during the trip is Carey Price
. The all-star netminder was also quick to point out that despite the anticipation of the Heritage Classic, it’s the importance of the points at stake that people should be focusing on.
“We really need to concentrate on getting some points on this road trip. The race is so tight right now and we’re going to be up against teams that are playing really well right now,” said Price before also mentioning that he has a little surprise in store for fans watching the Calgary game.
“I have a new mask coming for the Heritage Classic. I haven’t gotten it yet, but it’s going to be a bit of a retro look – you’ll have to wait until game day to see it though...”Justin Fragapane is a writer for Canadiens.com.ALSO READ:Welcome to the Show The Numbers Game - Feb. 15, 2011 The Last Word: Amar'e Stoudemire Youth Movement