The Montreal Canadiens got relatively good news on Tuesday, announcing that defenceman Jaroslav Spacek will have arthroscopic surgery on his injured knee and will only miss four to six weeks of action.
"We decided to just go for a clean up. I think it's a good thing for me, at least I can come back this season. I don't have to sit out the rest of the year and wait for next year," said Spacek, who said the procedure would happen as soon as possible. "For me, it's big news. I'm so happy to come back and play this year. I don't want to be out for six months. Four to six weeks I think, is great news. We'll see what happens."
Reports had earlier suggested that Spacek, on the team's injured reserved list, would be out for the season and playoffs. He is expected to return to the lineup for the first round if the Canadiens make the postseason.
The 37-year-old hasn't seen game action since Feb. 12 - when the injury occurred in the second period of the team's 3-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Spacek has one goal and 15 assists with a plus-8 through 57 games this season.
"It's good news for our team to have his availability down the stretch," said Habs head coach Jacques Martin. "To have an individual like Spacek that's played some good hockey for us ... last year, he teamed up with (Roman) Hamrlik and has given us some big games. So a veteran player to be available down the stretch will be important."
But the Canadiens have been somehow able to withstand the key losses, with players within the organization stepping in, and now, with acquisition of Brent Sopel.
I think we're confident with the group we have in here. You look at the guys that are out of the lineup right now: Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges and now Spacek. Obviously, those guys are hard to replace," said rookie defenceman PK Subban. "I think we've gone a pretty good patch job of bringing guys up from the minors and bringing guys in that are capable of playing big minutes. Down the stretch that's what we're going to need. We're going to need guys that can step up and play big minutes for our team."
That's some of what will be expected of Sopel, who was with the Thrashers this season after helping the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup title last season.
"I think we've got a great core here, we've got a lot of big horses that have played a long time and know how to get the job done," Sopel said. "They're confident in the group that is here by not making any (other) moves. That day is done and over with. Everybody knows they're here and we've got to look forward. We've got 19 games to get into the playoffs and kind of go from there."
Montreal sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 73 points. The Canadiens have a six-point edge on the Carolina Hurricanes, who hold down the eighth and final playoff spot.