(EDIT : Saku Koivu felt a small twinge in his knee at practice today and the team has postponed his return)
Koivu will finally be in the lineup Thursday night when the Canadiens host the New York Islanders. But there’s a catch: he’ll likely be centering the 4th line as he was practicing with Steve Bégin and Jason Ward this morning.
It looks like Julien’s plan is to “ease” him back into the lineup, but expect him to get some power-play minutes.
“We’ll see how he plays, and make adjustments accordingly. It could take one period, two, or a whole game” Julien said, before Koivu gets on the top line.
The coach will have to get creative now that he has so many available centers. “We have enough depth up front to try some things. Koivu, Ribeiro, Perreault and Bégin among others can all play the wing.”
Ribeiro would prefer to play center, but he’ll gladly play the wing if that’s what is asked of him: “I just want to play, and play a lot”.
“I’m happy to see him back. Saku is our captain, and he’ll help us win more games. It’ll be harder for opposing teams because they’ll have one more threat to worry about.”
“All I can do is continue to play well and not give the team a choice but to keep me in the lineup.”
Niklas Sunstrom seems to be the teams 13th forward right now, and might not be around too much longer. Montreal fans are expecting some player movement in the next few days due to an overloaded roster. The Habs still on the shelf include Chad Kilger and Darren Langdon.