EDMONTON, AB - Reinforcements are arriving.
Forwards Josh Archibald and Riley Sheahan - both on the verge of making their return from injury - skated on a line with Jujhar Khaira during Thursday's afternoon practice at Rogers Place, hinting towards their return on Friday to face the New Jersey Devils.
"It's a little frustrating," Archibald said of his early illness that sidelined him for three games.
"We had a really good pre-season and we came into the season with high hopes. Then I go down, get pretty ill and miss three games, so that kind of puts a damper on things."
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Then, a blocked shot in Winnipeg resulting in a fractured right foot sidelined Archibald for just over two weeks. Sheahan followed closely behind by being forced to miss out on the club's last three games after sliding awkwardly into the boards in a 4-1 win over Columbus on October 30.
"I feel good," Sheahan said. "I'm 100 percent and it was nice to be back out there in a normal role playing with the guys. So we'll see what happens for tomorrow."
Throughout pre-season and into the early days of the '19-20 campaign, the trio of forwards were a consistent unit for Head Coach Dave Tippett as they developed chemistry and efficiency as a well-rounded line with the tools to dominate possession and turn over loose pucks.
"I think defensively they're strong, they play in their positions, they're reliable, and we get the puck in and get on the forecheck," Khaira said of his linemates. "I think when we were playing together, our zone time was good. But at the same time we have to figure it out and start getting pucks to the net. Having them back is huge for us."
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At first sight of a possible reunification on Thursday, Tippett didn't hesitate to go back to the tried and tested formula.
"Today, we just wanted to stabilize," the bench boss said. "We're getting those stabilizing veterans in our lineup. Both of them come in, and it was a good solid line for us early in the year."
As for what the line can bring to the lineup other than that renewed chemistry, Sheahan alluded to their ability to provide a spark on the bench and satisfy the heavy assignments.
"I think energy is the biggest thing," Sheahan said. "There's a lot of teams that play a grind game and a heavy game, and I think that's something we can do and help build momentum that way."