CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Alex Tanguay expects to be a bundle of nerves when he returns to the Colorado Avalanche lineup Friday as the team meets the Florida Panthers to open a three-game road trip.
The 34-year-old right wing has missed 36 games with knee and hip injuries he sustained in a Nov. 2 game against the Montreal Canadiens, and he wondered as recently as two weeks ago if he'd be able to play again this season.
"It's such a roller coaster when you're hurt," Tanguay said Wednesday after passing a grueling skating test at the Avalanche's practice facility. "One day you feel good and you think you're going to be back soon, and a couple days later you feel like you're never going to get back. Not as long as two weeks ago I probably would have said the chances (weren't good).
"I'm nervous to see how everything's going to feel out there. As much as you do in practice, you don't get the same checking and intensity as you do in a game. But I'm excited to get back. This team has been doing outstanding. It's quite the turnaround from where it was a year ago and I'm excited to get back and hopefully do my part and help these guys out."
Left Wing - COL
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 9
SOG: 21 | +/-: 8
Tanguay was skating on a line with Gabriel Landeskog
and Paul Stastny
when he was injured in a game at Pepsi Center, the night former defenseman Adam Foote
's No. 52 was retired.
"I was driving the net and Landy took a shot wide and I kind of got pushed aside by (Canadiens defenseman) P.K. Subban and Landy ran into me behind the net," said Tanguay, who had three goals and six assists in 13 games. "The team was 12-1 and everything was going great. The first 13 games was probably the most fun I've had playing hockey in a long, long time."
Tanguay underwent an MRI the week after hurting his knee when a problem with his left hip was discovered. He had surgery on his right hip nine years ago, and there was concern another operation might be necessary.
"We didn't know how it was going to turn out," he said. "It turned out not to be as good as we wanted. Now I seem to be in good enough shape to play, and hopefully I'll be good to go and be fully healthy until the end of the year. The offseason gives me time to do some of the stuff that needs to be done, but it's not something that's going to affect me long term. It's just something I have to deal with. I'm happy now and I'll cross my fingers that it will go well."
The Avalanche have managed to solidify their third-place standing in the Central Division despite a number of injuries to key players. Right wing PA Parenteau returned from a knee injury Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs after missing 10 games and defenseman Nate Guenin is expected to play this weekend after missing eight games with an ankle injury.
"We've gone through a rough patch with injuries and we've still managed to play some pretty good hockey and managed to pull out some wins," Landeskog said. "Getting these guys back gives us even more offensive power and depth. They're certainly going to help us on the power play and to spread the scoring a little bit as well. They're pretty hungry and eager to get back."