Price, Koivu, and Higgins to Return for the Montreal Canadiens

Shaun McMahonContributor IJanuary 20, 2009

The Montreal Canadiens have an interesting "problem" on their hands.

Head coach Guy Carbonneau will have some important decisions to make this week as three notable regulars (Carey Price, Saku Koivu, and Chris Higgins) are poised to return from injuries.

That's great, unless you're Max Pacioretty or Matt D'Agostini.

Every team wants to be healthy. After all, it's a very long season and you need everyone to succeed. That's being said, the Canadiens are 11-2-1 over the last month and have been playing really well despite the injury troubles.

Let's not forget, Alex Tanguay is still on the shelf and will obviously regain his regular roster spot upon his return. That means some guys will have to sit...and wait.

Higgins-Koivu-Tanguay is basically an entire line that needs to find some room on what has become a well-oiled machine.

Does Carbonneau really want to break up the dynamic checking third line of Maxim Lapierre, Guillaume Latendresse and Tom Kostopoulos? That would potentially become Montreal's fourth line, dropping their ice time and probably their effectiveness.

Bad news for Steve Begin, not to mention George Laraque and Mathieu Dandenault who will also want a piece of the pie once they're healthy.

The youngsters have stepped up big time, but the Canadiens can only carry a 23-man roster and it's hard to fathom Pacioretty and D'Agostini will BOTH find a way to stay with the team.

D'Agostini blasted out of the starting gate when he was called up, but has slowed down since losing linemate Koivu and taking over fourth line duty.

Pacioretty has been a revelation on a line with Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec, but he's a young player with a two-way contract, possibly forced to take a back seat to a high-priced veteran, regardless of how popular he is.

Goaltending seems to be the only no-brainer.

Jaroslav Halak fought through a couple of tough games, but played well in Price's absence. Nevertheless, it'll be good for the Canadiens to get their number one goaltender back.

Price will stabilize the defense and could be the difference-maker in tight games as the regular season winds down.

The Canadiens are statistically better off than they were this time last year and some key guys are coming back, but chemistry is difficult to quantify and easy to disrupt. Throw in a Vincent Lecavalier trade rumor and things get kind of wobbly.

We'll see how the Habs fare this week with all the expected roster movement.