The injury update for the Montreal Canadiens
heading into Sunday's 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic is a promising one.
Forward Mike Cammalleri
and defenseman Hal Gill
both appear ready to return to the lineup, and Canadiens coach Jacques Martin even termed it "a good possibility" that defenseman James Wisniewski
would be able to play less than 72 hours after being struck in the face by a puck in Thursday's loss in Edmonton.
Wisniewski participated in Montreal's outdoor practice at McMahon Stadium on Saturday wearing a protective cage. He sustained facial lacerations and swelling as a result of being hit by the shot, but was still able to travel with the team to Calgary.
"We'll re-evaluate how he is [Sunday] morning," Martin said. "He practiced with the team today. Hopefully he'll be fine to play tomorrow."
Wisniewski wasn't available to the media after practice, but his teammates expressed optimism they would have the services of the solid two-way blueliner.
"He's a competitor. He's a tough guy, too, so it was really good for team morale that he was out there skating," goaltender Carey Price
"We were worried about him," Gill added. "It's a tough shot to take. He's a tough kid, and he looked pretty good out there. Those things sting, so we'll see how he feels."
Gill missed the past four games with an upper-body injury and the Canadiens have been without Cammalleri for the past 12 games after he injured his shoulder Jan. 18 against the Sabres. It's expected they will be activated from injured reserve in time to play Sunday, which will provide Montreal with a big boost at both ends of the ice.
"They're both veteran players, both experienced players," Martin said. "Hal has played extremely well in the second half of the season paired up with [rookie P.K.] Subban. He's really helped our young defender. Most of the time they play against the top line. Getting Michael Cammalleri
back gives us some more scoring punch, should help our power play, should help our other lines as well, give us some more depth.
"I think both individuals bring some leadership to our hockey team. A good example of that today was our players not really wanting to get off the ice, right there until the end enjoying the moment. And those two are leaders in that department."
When Cammalleri went down, there was uncertainty about whether the severity of the injury might keep him from participating in the Heritage Classic against a team for which he scored 39 goals for during the 2008-09 season.
Cammalleri was asked if there was ever concern he might have to sit this one out.
"At first, no, and then as time went on and the healing process was going the way it was, it started to be more of a concern," he said. "But I'm good enough to go."
Gill said wanting back into the lineup had nothing to do with playing in the outdoor game.
"It would have been nice to get in the last game," Gill said. "It's nice to get back and be part of the team again.
"This is all neat and this is cool, but this isn't why we're playing. We're playing because we need two points."