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Jose Theodore is quite familiar with the Montreal Canadiens - just not as a member of the opposing team.

For the first time since he was traded seven months ago, Theodore faces his old club when the Colorado Avalanche visit Montreal on Saturday.

Theodore spent 10 years in net for the Canadiens, winning 141 games as Montreal advanced to the playoffs twice with him as the starter.

In 2001-02, Theodore became only the sixth goalie to be named league MVP, and also won the Vezina Trophy after going 30-24-10 with a 2.11 goals-against average and league-leading .931 save percentage.

However, he struggled last season, lost his job to Cristobal Huet and was dealt to Colorado on March 8 for fellow goalie David Aebischer.

"Obviously it's going to be special," Theodore said of returning to his native Montreal. "I was in that organization for 12 years. It was a great experience for me so it's going to be fun and exciting to go back to Montreal."

Theodore was out with a fractured heel when Colorado acquired him, but returned in time for the playoffs and led the Avalanche to a first-round upset of Dallas.

He's had a couple of rough outings this season, but lowered his GAA to 2.81 with a 2-1 win at Ottawa on Thursday.

Colorado (3-2-2) beat Toronto 4-1 on Wednesday and has won the first two games on its three-game Canadian road trip.

After struggling under the weight of a three-year, $16 million contract he signed before last season, Theodore likely won't receive a warm reception from the Canadiens fans, nor will defenseman Patrice Brisebois, who joined the Avalanche last season after spending the first 14 seasons of his career with Montreal (3-1-2).

"I know Brisebois is not a fan of the Canadiens media anymore," said former NHL forward P.J. Stock, now a radio broadcaster at the Team 990 in Montreal. "Theodore had six months where he didn't play very well, but the consensus (among fans) now is that the team is better and they're happier with the players they have now.

"Everyone wants to see Theodore and they want to see Huet go against him. If I'm Theo, I'd definitely want to play. He was MVP here and then he had one bad season and they shipped him out. I'd want to show them they made a mistake in trading me."

Aebischer was in goal for Montreal on Wednesday, and made 21 saves in a 2-1 loss at Chicago. Chris Higgins scored his fourth goal for the Canadiens, who went 0-for-6 on the power play.

"I think we had more quality chances than they did," said Higgins, who has a point in five of the first six games. "But we didn't bury our chances early."

The Canadiens play four of their next five games at home after opening with four of six on the road.

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