Mathieu Darche Return Imminent: Who's the Odd Man Out for Montreal Canadiens?

Mark Della PostaContributor IIIMarch 15, 2011

MONTREAL, CANADA - JANUARY 12:  Mathieu Darche #52 of the Montreal Canadiens battles for the loose puck in front of Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on January 12, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Penguins defeated the Canadiens 5-2.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

According to HabsInsideOut, Mathieu Darche has been skating on his own for the past few days. As he comes closer to rejoining the team, someone on the current roster comes closer and closer to losing his spot.

Throughout his time with the Canadiens, Darche has proved to be a favorite of head coach Jacques Martin. For the first time in his NHL career, Darche was getting regular minutes on the team's top two lines, as well as on the power play.

Despite many of his critics, Darche was actually quite effective in his increased role with the club. In 51 games played, Darche had already eclipsed his career high in goals with nine, and was only one point away from his career high of 22 (which he achieved in 73 games with the Lightning during the 2007/2008 season).

It was Darche's many intangibles, however, that truly made him a valued asset within the organization.

Although he has missed 17 games, Darche is still among the team's top 10 in hits and fifth among forwards in blocked shots. Furthermore, prior to the arrival of Pacioretty, Darche was one of the few players on the roster willing to sacrifice his body in front of the net for the success of the team. His willingness to screen opposing goalies was one that gained him the respect of his coach and the 21,273 Bell Center faithful.

With all of his early season success, it's clear that Darche will once again become a regular once he's healthy. One unlucky player will have to take a seat to make room for the former McGill Redman.

In all likelihood, Tom Pyatt will be the one taking a seat in the press box. Pyatt has been having a difficult season, having scored only once in 52 games. Prior to Pacioretty's injury, Pyatt had been benched repeatedly or found himself being one of the lesser used players on the team.

Another player who may find himself eating hot dogs is Benoit Pouliot. In his last 11 games, Pouliot only has two assists. He's repeatedly played under 10 minutes and has been utterly ineffective when used on the power play.

As his defensive play isn’t anything to be lauded either, the Ontario native isn’t exactly convincing his coach that he belongs with the big boys. The former fourth overall pick could very well lose his spot to the undrafted grinder.

Whoever Darche is to replace, one thing is clear. With Jacques Martin’s penchant for using veterans and Darche’s work ethic, it will take a lot to dislodge the hometown boy from his spot on the team once he’s healthy enough to assume it.