Montreal’s regular season scoring leader Max Pacioretty practiced with his teammates on Monday for the first time since suffering what is believed to be a concussion on April 5.
Pacioretty sported a tinted visor all but giving away the fact his “upper body injury” is in fact a concussion.
The 26-year-old called the practice a special teams practice adding he’ll need to test things out in a contact practice.
“Before playing a game, you try and practice with the team, full contact. Today was a special teams practice, so it was perfect timing to get back out there. I still have to be cleared for contact. That’s the next step,” said Pacioretty per the team’s website. “That’s the same with every injury. You could feel great skating around, but as soon as you start battling it doesn’t feel as good and you re-aggravate it. I’m headed in the right direction, but I’m still not completely over the hump.”
Pacioretty fell awkwardly following a hit from Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.
“I’ve responded really well to treatment. I’ve gotten better every day. I think the stuff that goes on behind the scenes is really what has made me feel a lot better. I’m taking it day by day and I’m feeling better. That’s what’s important,” said Pacioretty, who took shifts on the Habs’ first power play unit alongside David Desharnais and P.A. Parenteau. “When you’re waiting in Florida, you’re thinking best or worst case possibilities. But, as soon as I got back and saw the doctor, I felt pretty comfortable and I felt confident that hopefully I could come back soon. It’s not something that we’re rushing at all, though.”
Coach Michel Therrien wouldn’t indicate when his top scorer would return to the lineup.
“We’ll use him when he’s ready, whether that’s Wednesday, Friday (Game 2), Sunday (Game 3 in Ottawa). We don’t know when,” said Therrien.
Pacioretty had 37 goals and 67 points in 80 regular season games.
“We planned for today to be the first day for me to skate with the guys and stuff,” said Killorn following Monday’s practice. “So, I felt good. It’s progressing well. I think by Thursday, I’ll be fine.”
The 25-year-old had 15 goals and 38 points in 71 games during the regular season and will get his first taste of NHL playoff action on Thursday.
“I think there’s going to be a ton of adrenaline in the first playoff game,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to affect me that much, maybe a shift or two just to kind of get into things. Skating right now, even though it’s clearly not a game, I don’t feel like I’m sucking air.”
Hockey has a Claude Lemieux here and a Chris Pronger there, yet you don’t see a ton of players embracing that role. P.K. Subban didn’t outright say he strives to be the Joker to someone else’s Batman, but he didn’t deny that boos fuel his fire in an interesting interview with NHL.com.
“I’m not saying that I do. I’m not saying that I don’t,” Subban said with a grin. “But I don’t ask them to do that. When I go to Winnipeg, I don’t ask them to boo me. Philly, it’s the same thing. Pittsburgh, Toronto. I’m from Toronto; they still boo me.”
” … Let’s just say it doesn’t bother me.”
For some players, silencing a hostile crowd can be almost as rewarding – maybe more rewarding – than bringing home fans to their feet. It doesn’t hurt that Subban, 25, has the skill to do so.
In fact, Subban thinks he’s playing the best hockey of his career, explaining how he’s learned when to be aggressive and when to take his foot off the gas.