The Montreal Canadiens held a practice on Monday morning ahead of a tough road game against the defending Stanley Cup Champions , the Washington Capitals, and there were a few interesting tidbits of information that came out following the conclusion of that practice.
The first and most immediate update comes from Montreal Canadiens beat reporter Brendan Kelly of the Montreal Gazette who revealed that 25 year old defenseman Xavier Ouelett would be sitting out the game against the Capitals on Monday. The former Red Wings defenseman never really found his stride in Detroit and unfortunately a change of scene in Montreal, a French speaking province where the native of Bayonne, France should in theory feel more comfortable, does not seem to have helped him all that much. Through the first 18 games of the season he has had limited production with no goals, 3 assists and a plus minus rating of -1 on the season to go along with 13 penalty minutes and some segments of the Habs fan base have been calling for this move for some time now.
Stepping in for Ouellet this evening will be another young defenseman in the former of 25 year old Mike Reilly. Although Reilly's production hasn't been all that much better with 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 total points on the season, he has been much more disciplined on the ice with just 4 penalty minutes to his name a plus minus rating of 0 on the season thus far. The former Blue Jackets draft pick and former Wild defenseman appears to have earned the favor of the fan base and it seems most would like to see him remain a regular fixture on the Habs blue line, at least for now.
The big news coming out of Monday's practice however will not impact tonight's game at all and is in regards to health of Montreal Canadiens' star defenseman Shea Weber. The powerful blue liner was back at practice on Monday and was taking part in drills according to TSN's John Lu and it sounds like a return may be on the horizon. According to Lu, Weber was "smoking" all of his one timers into the empty net with Lu adding that "his return feels really close."
Now that is not an official report from the Canadiens, but it certainly is a very good sign for the team as a whole.
Update: Arpon Basu is reporting that neither Weber nor Paul Byron is expected back this week in spite of Lu's belief that Weber is very close to a return.