With the Montreal Canadiens starting to run out of infirmary, competition gets even fiercer internally in the final week of camp.
Jonathan Drouin is expected to play his first preseason game on Saturday when the Habs visit the Ottawa Senators. Sean Monahan and Josh Anderson continued unrestricted practice on Friday morning while captain Nick Suzuki had to avoid contact.
Drouin was replaced by Juraj Slafkovsky in Wednesday’s lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs because of a virus. The Quebec forward has not played a full season since the 2018/19 season. In particular, he underwent surgery on both wrists during this period.
“My only goal is to play 82 games,” said Drouin on Friday.
His injury last season took away the time for him to develop an affinity with head coach Martin St-Louis. He took office on February 9th. Drouin only played two games under St-Louis.
“I see that he has what it takes to penetrate our concepts, absorb them and implement them,” said St-Louis. But I haven’t seen enough samples of Drouin to tell him to come and see this or that.
“The sample is too small to say what to attack with Jonathan. »
Drouin, who is 27, is spending the final year on his contract. He has 46 goals and 111 assists in 263 games since joining the Canadiens on June 15, 2017.
He reiterated not to put any pressure on his shoulders despite his contract situation and just want to stay healthy throughout the season.
A mysterious bite
Suzuki and Anderson were on the sidelines from the start of camp and didn’t suffer with their teammates on the intense first day on ice, September 22nd.
A few days earlier, Suzuki had been injured in a silly collision with Joel Edmundson on ice. The Manitoba defenseman suffered a back injury — the same injury that limited him to 24 games last season — and he’s still not been seen on the Bell Sports Complex rink.
For his part, Anderson was the victim of a bite, possibly from an insect or spider.
“I woke up one morning and my hand was swollen and I couldn’t move it,” Anderson said. I had to take antibiotics. It’s a strange incident. »
Anderson laughed that he didn’t gain any superpowers from the bite. He’s been in good shape and can’t wait to get going as the offensive positions are hard fought.
“It’s very healthy because in this league you can never afford to get too comfortable,” Anderson said. There’s a difference between confidence and comfort. You have to show up every day with the intention of going to work because someone is always knocking on the door to take your place. »
Anderson trained on the right of Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki on Friday. For his part, Drouin played with Monahan and Joel Armia.
St. Louis insisted that the composition of the lines had to be changed several times before the season started.
“Today was a more relaxed training session,” remarked St-Louis, who was also guided by his assistants. Normally, our training requires players to be very committed, both physically and mentally. Today it was more traditional and they had fewer decisions to make. »
Defensemen Madison Bowey (lower body) and Logan Mailloux (shoulder) also attended Friday’s practice wearing a jersey that indicated they should avoid contact.
To see in the video
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