(Photo: John Mahoney/The Gazette)
In his first game back Saturday following reconstructive surgery on his left knee, Alexei Emelin played just over 16 minutes, blocked two shots, and threw three hits.
When it was over, Emelin said he felt good on the ice. And Coach Michel Therrien said he liked what he saw from the 27-year-old Russian defenceman in the Canadiens 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers.
“I thought he gave us sixteen minutes of solid hockey. For a first game I was impressed,” Therrien said.
Emelin’s hit in the first period on Rangers’ forward Chris Kreider in the neutral zone evoked memories of his collision with Milan Lucic last April when he injured his knee. Emelin fell to the ice after hitting Kreider near the boards but got up unscathed.
Therrien suggested it was a boost to Emelin’s confidence.
“I think for his confidence that was probably the best thing that could happen to him. Similar play,” Therrien said. “And I was glad he was able to stand up and keep playing the game.”
Francis Bouillon who was paired with Emelin also praised his play.
“I liked the way Emelin played tonight. It was unbelievable…He was skating well and he was solid in his own zone, too,” Bouillon said.
And you can hear more of what Bouillon had to say here:
You can hear what Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price had to say here:
And you can listen to Canadiens’ captain Brian Gionta here:
(Video: Brenda Branswell)