Markov might suit up in Vancouver
Canadiens All-Star goalie Carey Price grew up in Williams Lake, a seven hour drive north of Vancouver and will have many fans and friends in the crowd watching him Saturday. (CP File photo)
Published Friday, March 9, 2012 10:54PM EST
MONTREAL - Long-injured Canadiens' defenceman Andrei Markov was removed from the injury reserve list Saturday, leading to speculation that he might be in the line-up in Vancouver. He was described as a "game time decision" by the team.
Markov, who was signed to a lucrative long-term deal last summer by GM Pierre Gauthier, has yet to play a game this season due to ongoing knee issues.
When the Canadiens play in Vancouver, there's always a little awkwardness for some players, as both teams have important elements that come from enemy territory.
The Canadiens have British Columbians Josh Gorges and Carey Price.
Meanwhile the Canucks are loaded with players from Quebec and the Montreal area, including Alexandre Burrows, Roberto Luongo, Marc-Andre Gragnani and former Hab Maxim Lapierre.
Even the Alain Vigneault is from Quebec and formerly coached the Canadiens, while Chris Higgins is another former Hab.
It's the only match-up between the teams this season but Montreal did well against the powerful Canucks last season, winning 2-0 in Montreal and 3-2 in Vancouver.
"It's always special playing against the Habs," said Chris Higgins, who was drafted a decade ago by Montreal. "I still have friends on the team and we don't play each other much so we want to do well."
Higgins enjoyed his career-best season with the Habs in 2007-2008 racking up 52 points and is once again playing on one of the top two lines after recovering from an infection.
"His intensity in winning battles and clearing our zone and keeping it in the other end makes him one of our hardest workers since day one this season," said Coach Alain Vigneault.
Alexandre Burrows, who grew up in the Montreal suburb of Pincourt, enjoys playing the team he grew up watching.
"I followed them when I was young and it's always special to play them," he said. "I know many people who will be watching Saturday's game, that's what they do there, watch the Habs on Saturday and drink a few beers, and appreciate the game."
In spite of its win Thursday against the Oilers in Edmonton the Canadiens are still last in the East and 28th in the overall standings.
But the Canucks aren't expecting an easy game.
"They have a new coach and some players hurt, which is slowing them down but they work hard," said Burrows. "They played well in Edmonton Thursday and we can't take anything for granted."
Carey Price, meanwhile, is happy to play in the province he grew up in.
"For sure, I'll have my parents and a lot of friends at the game, so it's good to be here," said Price who grew up in Williams Lake. "We came once a year, so it's special each time."
The NHL announced Friday night that they were fining Canadiens' forward Erik Cole for a slew-footing Oiler Jeff Petry in the second period of Thursday's game. Cole got a two minute penalty for tripping on the play.
The hockey game coincides with a visit of Montreal's soccer Impact which plays its first-ever MLS game Saturday in Vancouver against the Whitecaps.
With a file from The Canadian Press