MONTREAL —_Tomas Plekanec couldn’t wait to get back to work.
Plekanec was the first player on the ice Sunday morning as he rejoined the Canadiens following what he described as a disappointing experience with the Czech team at the Vancouver Olympics.
The Czechs were bounced by Finland, the eventual bronze medallist, in the quarter-finals and Plekanec said his first Olympic appearance taught him the value of team play.
“The one lesson I learned was the importance of five players being on the same page, playing together as a unit.” said Plekanec, referring to the difficulty of bringing in players from different teams and different systems and trying to put together a cohesive team.
He went on to say that he was happy to be back in Montreal, where he is familiar with the system. Plekanec, the team’s leading scorer, lined up between the Kostitsyn brothers, Andrei and Sergei, and it appears that will be a key unit as the Canadiens resume their pursuit of a playoff position Tuesday night when they take on the Bruins in Boston.
“I’ve played together with the brothers over the past two years and we’ve had some success,” said Plekanec. “They’re skilled players who play well together and my job will be to get them the puck.”
Defenceman Andrei Markov also returned to the fold Sunday after representing Russia in Vancouver. The Russians were the pre-tournament favourites, but lost to Canada 7-3 in the quarter-finals.
“It was disappointing but we didn’t play well,” said Markov. “We made too many mistakes in the neutral zone and it cost us.”
There has been concern over Markov’s health. He missed the Canadiens’ last two games before the Olympic break and his time in Vancouver was limited by Markov standards.
When asked about his health Sunday, Markov said he was “OK, but not great.”
The only player still missing at practice was goaltender Jaroslav Halak and there was some question as to whether he would join the Canadiens for practice Monday, go directly to Boston or possibly avoid two coast-to-coast trips by flying south to California.
The Canadiens are in San Jose on Thursday and then play Saturday in Los Angeles and Sunday in Anaheim. If the Canadiens opt for the last option, Carey Price would start in Boston and Robert Mayer would serve as the backup. He was called up from Cincinnati of the ECHL last week to give the team an extra goaltender in practice.
The Canadiens made another roster move Sunday, recalling Tom Pyatt from the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs. He provides the team with an extra forward for what shapes up as a crucial road trip. The Canadiens come out of the break in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference but most of the teams they are battling hold games in hand.
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