Canadiens’ Therrien hopes Subban can return Thursday

He's in a non-contact jersey, but it's a welcome sight for the Montreal Canadiens, as PK Subban is back practicing with the team.

BROSSARD, Que. — Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban joined his teammates at practice Tuesday for the first time since suffering a neck injury on Mar. 10.

Subban was injured in the final minutes of Montreal’s 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres when teammate Alexei Emelin collided with him. He was stretchered off the ice and taken to hospital where his injury was assessed to be non-serious.

With 51 points in 68 games, Subban ranks second in team scoring. He has the seventh-most assists in the NHL this season (45). Head coach Michel Therrien hopes to have Subban back in the lineup Thursday versus the Detroit Red Wings.

“P.K. has been working with a lot of intensity with [Canadiens strength and conditioning coach] Pierre Allard,” said Therrien. “He looks really good. I was watching him again today and it’s always the player who decides with the doctors when he’s ready to return.

“It won’t be [Tuesday night], but we’re hoping he might be back next game.”

Therrien said it was initially thought Subban would miss about a week.

The Canadiens have gone 1-4-0 in Subban’s absence.

Centre David Desharnais also joined his teammates for the first time since suffering a fractured left foot in Montreal’s 6-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes Feb. 15.

Desharnais was initially scheduled to miss three weeks with the injury, but he suffered a minor setback while skating with Montreal’s injured players last week.

“I was hurt most of the time while David was hurt and it’s nice to see him progress with his injury,” said defenceman Nathan Beaulieu. “I know it was a really frustrating.”

Subban and Desharnais practised in non-contact jerseys and stayed on the ice for an additional 30 minutes. Neither will be available for Tuesday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks, making it 11 regulars out of the lineup.

Captain Max Pacioretty has learned not to get too excited about players returning to practice.

“Not trying to sound negative, but [I’m] not really [encouraged] because there’s nine games left and we know the position that we’re in. You want guys to be healthy, though. You want to go out there and battle with your teammates, but we’ve seen this so many times this year that I guess we’re kind of numb to it now.

“We just have to worry about what we have in the room, and when those guys come back it’s going to be great,” Pacioretty said.

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