The Montreal Canadiens are about to get a big boost to their lineup, as Shea Weber nears a return.
The hulking 6-foot-4 defenceman hasn’t played a game in over 11 months, last suiting up December 16, 2017. Weber missed 55 games last season due to a foot injury, and had surgery on it in March. The 33-year-old then had to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery this summer to repair a meniscal tear.
So it’s been a long road to recovery, but the wait is nearly over.
After participating in Canadiens practice on Thursday, head coach Claude Julien said that Weber could be available as early as Tuesday’s home game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Claude Julien affirme que si les choses continuent à bien aller comme présentement, Shea Weber pourrait revenir dans l'alignement dès mardi soir.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) November 22, 2018
Weber certainly appears to be feeling better, as the Athletic’s Arpon Basu describes this interaction with rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi:
Shea Weber appears to be taking contact, or at the very least he’s dishing it out. Jesperi Kotkaniemi was comfortably posted in front of the net during a power play drill, Weber arrives, basically grabs him by the neck and chucks him behind the net. Just manhandled him.
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) November 22, 2018
Though the Habs have played better than most predicted so far this season, holding on to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a 11-7-4 record, Weber will be a welcome addition. That’s particularly true given defenceman Noah Juulsen is out indefinitely with a facial fracture.
Goaltender Carey Price, who’s sporting a disappointing .895 save percentage at the moment, will benefit from Weber’s return.
“He’s obviously a big part of our team and it’s hard to replace a guy like that,” Price told reporters. “Not only for his physical presence on the ice, but his presence in our locker room is huge for us too.”
“I kind of missed the look of that big guy mugging guys in front of me.”
Whenever Weber suits up next, he’ll be doing so for his first game with the C on his jersey. Despite the injury, Weber was picked to succeed Max Pacioretty as Canadiens captain before the season began.