Habs captain Saku Koivu will return tonight in New Jersey following a 17-game absence due to a high ankle sprain.
It will be Koivu's first action since injuring the ankle on a faceoff in a Dec. 11 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Though Guy Carbonneau says he will be easing Koivu back by playing him on the fourth line with Matt D'Agostini and one of Steve Bégin or Gregory Stewart, I would take that comment with a grain of salt.
Carbonneau is rarely able to resist the temptation to tinker with his lines when things aren't going well, but he hasn't done that over the past several weeks because things have been going extremely well, and he simply didn't have the bodies to shift around here and there. But with Koivu back, Tomas Plekanec may feel incited to up his level of both effort and aggressiveness because he will likely be on a short leash.
There was also news Wednesday that Carey Price will be competing in the YoungStars Game this weekend. Playing 20 minutes in the All-Star Game is one thing, but Carbonneau clearly expressed his wish that Price avoid the skills competition and here he is playing in this 3-on-3 offensive exhibition where he will likely be called on to test his wonky ankle on several occasions.
Columbus rookie sensation Steve Mason has bowed out to rest his back, even though he's playing for the Blue Jackets this week, while Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals has also elected not to play for the sophmore team even though he says himself that he's not even injured. Price, meanwhile, is the number one goalie on a contending team, one who admits he still has pain in his ankle, yet he'll be playing twice in a 24-hour span, albeit for short stints each time.
I'm sure Carbonneau and the rest of the Canadiens brass will watch this weekend's events holding their breath.
I won't be posting a blog hit after tonight's game because my radio show, Hump Night, will be on the air from 11 p.m. to midnight on the Team 990. You can listen to it live here, and check back Thursday for my thoughts on the game.
Also, I've finally succumbed and joined Twitter nation by adding a page for The Daily Hab-it, which you can follow here.