Updates from practice

BROSSARD — The Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex on Friday afternoon.

Jonathan Drouin, Christian Dvorak and Joel Edmundson were all wearing regular jerseys, but there’s no timetable for their respective returns just yet.

During his post-practice press conference, interim head coach Martin St-Louis indicated that Edmundson is “close” to making his season debut after battling a lower-back injury and suffering multiple setbacks in his recovery.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Un aper��u de la pratique d’aujourd’hui. 👀A closer look at Friday’s practice.#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/YuNjZJ0qfc

Wideman on Edmundson: “He treats everyone like a brother”

To say that Edmundson is popular among his teammates is definitely an understatement.

Just ask Chris Wideman, who quickly developed a sincere appreciation for his fellow blueliner.

“His impact on this team, even while he hasn’t been playing, is unbelievable. He’s had a tough year with some personal things and some injuries, but I’ve only been around him for a couple of months and I love the guy,” praised Wideman, who hails from St. Louis where Edmundson won the Stanley Cup in 2019. “He’s like a brother, and he treats everyone like a brother, so he’s a huge part of this team and we’re all excited to have him back.”

Video: Chris Wideman on Joel Edmundson’s impact on the group

Wideman was then asked if Edmundson was future captain material, and he responded with a ringing endorsement.

“The guy has won a Cup. He’s someone that guys can look up to on the ice, but away from the rink, the way that guys gravitate to him is pretty unique. You don’t see that a lot in this League,” stressed Wideman. “Guys have families and do different things, but Eddy’s a guy that would give you the shirt off his back.”

Outstanding leadership qualities aside, Edmundson has also earned the title of “Team DJ” – and he has continued to fulfill those locker room responsibilities during his rehab.

“Even when he’s not playing, he’s coming down from the press box and getting it ready. He’s the guy. He’s so much fun to be around, so we were excited that he was on the trip with the team,” mentioned Wideman. “He does everything. He’s the best.”

Video: VAN@MTL: Edmundson rips home a wrister from the point

Jake Evans later confirmed that Nick Suzuki briefly assumed Edmundson’s music-related duties while he was away, but the rearguard was the better of the two.

“Joel’s always got good music. He always just brings good vibes, good energy. It’s a good playlist,” noted Evans. “Last year when he was healthy and playing, he was picking everything. Suzy stepped up, but it’s a tough role to fill. Suzy did ok, but Eddy, for the most part, has been the go-to guy.”

Evans on Lehkonen: “He’s always trying to bring some energy”

Artturi Lehkonen is riding a five-game point streak heading into Saturday night’s game against the Seattle Kraken.

He has eight points (6 goals, 2 assists) during that span, including a pair of two-goal games.

With 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists) so far this year, the Finn is just three points shy of matching his career-high for points in a season.

Evans couldn’t be happier to see his linemate finally enjoying some consistent offensive success.

“He’s just been a great friend of mine. I’ve always loved playing with him. In the dressing room, just off the ice, he’s one of those guys that’s always having fun. He’s never getting too down on himself or too down on the team. He’s always trying to bring some energy. On the ice especially, he’s playing great this season. He’s always defensively responsible and he’s always getting some chances, and now they’re starting to go in more,” said Evans. “He’s a guy you can look up to in terms of how hard he works and just how good he is defensively, and now offensively he’s contributing a lot more, too. He’s just been a great player and a great teammate.”

Video: Jake Evans on playing alongside Artturi Lehkonen

Evans is also pleased that his buddy is garnering attention across the League.

“He’s not known as this goalscorer or power play guy, but he does all the little things right. Now, he’s getting rewarded for it,” added Evans. “At the beginning of the year, it was tough on him, but everyone knew he was playing well. It was frustrating for him. He just stuck with it and now he’s starting to get the credit he deserves. He’s just been working so hard and they’re finally going in.”

Remember that Lehkonen was held without a goal for 19 games to begin the campaign before scoring against Nashville on November 20.

Welcome back, fans!

The Bell Centre returns to full capacity with the Kraken in town, so the players are psyched.

It marks the first time in three months that a capacity crowd can enter the building.

Josh Anderson has been eagerly anticipating the attendance change.

“It’s going to be really exciting. I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity for a long time. Coming into the Bell Centre as a visitor, when I first stepped in the League, you always got ready for the game and you always had that marked on your calendar, so to be on the home side should be a lot of fun,” noted Anderson. “The style of play that we’re playing and being consistent, I think our fans are going to enjoy it. I know all the guys have been talking about it. We’re looking forward to it.”

Video: Josh Anderson on the Bell Centre being full again

Like his troops, St-Louis is primed for the switch.

He loved playing in Montreal and he can’t wait to feel that electricity again, this time from behind the bench.

“It’s nice to get the fans back at full capacity. I think it’s going to help us,” said St-Louis. “Everytime I came here, I had goosebumps when I jumped on the ice. There’s so much history. Just the atmosphere, the fans, the music, I was really excited to play hockey.”

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