While Team Canada was wrapping up its heart-stopping 2-1 Olympic quarterfinal win over Latvia Wednesday in Sochi, the Olympic vacation was coming to an end for Canadiens players who weren’t at the Games.
The non-Olympic Canadiens hit the ice in Brossard Wednesday afternoon for the first time since a 4-1 victory over the Hurricanes on Feb. 8 in Carolina that extended their winning streak to three games.
Alex Galchenyuk (photo above), who had been sidelined since breaking his hand on Jan. 6, was on the ice Wednesday and looks ready to play, as does Travis Moen, who was sidelined with a lower-body injury. Davis Drewiske, who has yet to play this season while recovering from a shoulder injury, was absent from the practice for family reasons, while Michael Bournival didn’t skate because he is still suffering from concussion-like symptoms.
“It’s my first practice with the team and I feel that I’m on the right path,” Galchenyuk told reporters in Brossard after practice. “I am still looking to get more speed and flexibility back into my hand, which would help me on moves like toe-drags, since I was in a cast for three weeks. The movements have to become natural again.”
With seven players in Sochi – Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty, Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin, Tomas Plekanec and Peter Budaj – the Canadiens needed to recruit some players for the practice. The goalies were former Hab Jocelyn Thibault and former minor-leaguer Martin Houle, while former Habs defenceman Patrice Brisebois laced up his skates along with strength-and-conditioning coach Pierre Allard.
“I’d really like to thank (general manager Marc Bergevin) for giving me this opportunity,” Brisebois, who was part of the Canadiens’ last Stanley Cup winner in 1993 and now works in player development for the Habs, told reporters after practice.
The Canadiens will continue to practise in Brossard with a depleted lineup through Saturday. They will enjoy a day off Sunday and the entire team should be on hand by next Tuesday at the latest.
The Canadiens will play their first post-Olympic game next Wednesday, when the Detroit Red Wings visit the Bell Centre. The Habs will be in Pittsburgh the next night to face the Penguins.
If you’re in need of a non-Olympic hockey fix, the Hamilton Bulldogs will be at the Bell Centre Friday night to play the Binghamton Senators in a 7:30 p.m. start.
The Gazette’s Brenda Branswell spent some time in Hamilton during the Olympic break. Below is a link to her article on Hamilton’s Big Three on defence – Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn – as well as a video shot during a Bulldogs practice.
(Photo by Dario Ayala/The Gazette)