Jesperi Kotkaniemi took part in training when the Montreal Canadiens returned to the ice for the first time in a week on Monday.
Four Habs home games, including a three-game streak against the Oilers last week, have been postponed after Kotkaniemi and his other forward. Joel armia were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on March 22. There was a morning practice before the Canadiens’ scheduled game against the Oilers that night became the first to be postponed. Montreal had also postponed its Sunday game against the Ottawa Senators.
The Canadiens players were tested Monday before resuming activities at the training center in Brossard, Que.
“It is not a decision that we take”, advance Brendan Gallagher said of the pause. “You know if it was up to us, we would have played obviously, but they have a lot of other things to worry about. They couldn’t risk it spreading, and I guess the type of virus, I don’t know much about this, but it was a different variant.
“So I guess they were worried it was a little more contagious and they just thought it was in the best interest to stop us. We had no choice but to listen. We would have liked to continue playing, but we’re back. now, and I hope we don’t have to start over. ”
Kotkaniemi was cleared on Monday and trained on a line with Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen.
“We had a great time with him, but he’s good,” forward Brendan Gallagher said of Kotkaniemi, 21. “KK” likes to laugh and smile pretty much every time you talk to him, and the smile hasn’t left him, so he feels good. I think he was probably a little worried there. He’s a young man, a little worried, but obviously it’s good to see him again with the team. He’s part of our group, so we’re happy we don’t have to lose him. ”
Armia remains in the protocol.
“It’s something I can’t go into, but in the next week we should get it back,” said coach Dominique Ducharme.
Effronté Tyler Toffoli (lower body) has not trained and will not play in Montreal’s first game on Tuesday since a 5-4 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks on March 20.
“He’s getting better and better,” Ducharme said. “He won’t play tomorrow, but he will be on the ice in the next few days. ”
Effronté Michael Frolik is expected to make his debut for the Canadiens on Tuesday. He accepted a one-year contract of $ 750,000 on December 23 and practiced with Montreal all season.
Effronté Eric Staal, acquired in a Buffalo Sabers trade Friday for a third round and fifth round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, will not play. He is subject to a quarantine of seven days.
“I think he will bring a lot of depth to our team”, advance Phillip Danault said. “We have young centenarians, and he has a lot of [Stanley Cup] Playoff games (62) also. And he’s a winner, so it’s a very good decision for us. ”
The Canadians (14-8-9) are fourth in the Scotia North division with seven teams with 37 points, two ahead of the Calgary Flames and Canucks. The top four teams in the division will make the playoffs. Montreal played five games less than Calgary and six less than Vancouver.
“Consistency hasn’t been there throughout the first 31 games for sure, but I think as a group you hope we were able to learn from that,” said Gallagher. “And I think we did. Nothing happens in this game without it being a learning experience, and I think what we’ve been through we understand how hard it is to get out of the funks when you start going the wrong way and you let bad habits creep into your game.
“We had to work incredibly hard to get out of these things. Before we closed, we felt like we made these improvements and our game was just starting to find a way. So hopefully we can get back to where we left off and make sure those bad habits don’t get back into our game because those things, especially with the limited training time we’re going to have, is something something we just can’t afford. ”