According to recent releases from the Canadian Press, Montreal head coach Claude Julien has revealed that winger Niklas Sundstrom may be ready to return to the lineup for Game 1of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals versus the Tampa Lightning.
Sundstrom missed all of the first round series against Boston with an ankle injury. Should he enter the lineup, his speed would surely be an asset to defending a very quick Tampa Bay squad. If Sundstrom should be in the lineup, it would be a possibility that he could replace Pierre Dagenais. Dagenais was demoted from the 2nd line recently, and he seems to have little use on a defensive 3rd or 4th line. It is also possible that he could replace Darren Langdon, who’s toughness will not be needed as much as it was against Boston.
On the other hand, defenseman Stephane Quintal and winger Jason Ward will not be ready to return to the lineup for the beginning of the series. Quintal went down in Game 4 against Boston with a shoulder injury, which has now been identified as a separation. Ward went down with a neck injury in Game 5 against Boston. Neither will play in Game 1.
After the grueling series against Boston, coach Claude Julien gave his team a day of rest on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the team held a short one-hour practice. The Habs plan to fly to Tampa sometime today, after they practice.
Tampa Bay also has a couple notable injuries. Former Canadiens defenseman Jassen Cullimore is currently listed as out indefinitely with a wrist injury. Cullimore is one of the Lightning’s more physical players, so his absence could be important.
The other notable injury for the Lightning is winger Cory Stillman. Stillman missed two games against the Islanders in Round 1 with a hip injury. The Lightning believe that he will be ready to play in Friday night’s opening game. Stillman has been a key contributor to the Lightning power play, tallying 11 goals and 15 assists on the power play this season.