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Arber Xhekaj to play against the Blue Jackets on Wednesday (if all goes well)

Since the start of the season, the Montreal Canadiens have been hit by a wave of injuries. No, I promise I didn’t just copy a snippet of text from one of my 2021 or 2022 papers.

In addition to Carey Price (LTIR), David Savard, Kirby Dach, Jordan Harris, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Arber Xhekaj and Chris Wideman (who doesn’t look like a guy who’s going to play this season and hasn’t really skated in a while) are currently on the injured list.

All in all, there’s a good basis for creating a group that can kill penalties.

But hey. All this to say that, in the next few days, a name could leave the injured list to make a comeback. Spoiler alert: it won’t be Carey Price.

According to Renaud Lavoie on BPM Sports this morning, expect defenseman Arber Xhekaj to return Wednesday against the Blue Jackets… if all goes well.

Xhekaj, who hasn’t played since November 16 against Vegas, was placed on the injured list (retroactive to his last game) three days ago. He is therefore eligible for a return to action on Wednesday if he is physically able to play.

Renaud Lavoie said the Habs could err on the side of caution with WiFi, delaying his return to action for a few days – as was the case with Kaiden Guhle in recent weeks. But it’s definitely possible that the Ontarian could play on Wednesday in Columbus.

Note that if he’s absent from this morning’s training session, which will take place in California at 9 a.m. (local time), don’t jump to any conclusions. California’s a long way from here.

Let’s not forget that the Habs would be well advised to err on the side of caution in the case of the defenseman. There’s no rush for a potential return to action, since seeing him injured again would be a major blow. That’s why, if need be, he could play only on Thursday or Saturday.

It’s worth noting that, with a 23-player roster full and an unfinished ménage à trois in front of the net, the Habs currently have an extra forward (Joel Armia) and one on the blue line. For the past few days, it’s been Mattias Norlinder.

It’s logical to think that Norlinder would be the one to bail out when Xhekaj returns and goes to the AHL. But maybe the Habs don’t want Jayden Struble AND Arber Xhekaj in the same 23-man roster.

In fact, the question is: which one should heat up the press gallery in Montreal and which one should go to Laval? Because yes, without another injury or a trade, we’ll have to cut someone.

The Canadiens will play in Ohio on Wednesday before returning to Montreal. The Panthers, Red Wings, Kraken and Kings are on the menu Thursday, Saturday, next Monday and next Thursday, respectively.

The Rocket’s next game is on Friday in British Columbia.

In gusto

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