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NHL: Mike Matheson soon to beef up defense at CH

NHL: Mike Matheson soon to beef up defense at CH

Brossard, QC — Possibly soon to be included on defense for the Montreal Canadiens, fullback Mike Matheson donned the regular player’s white jersey for the first time this season Wednesday morning during a training session at the Peel Sports Complex in Broussard.

Matheson (abs) participated in Habs training earlier this week but has yet to avoid contact. He still hasn’t played this season, having been acquired this summer from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling.

Asked if he would be wearing the uniform Thursday night against the Blue Jackets in Columbus, coach Martin St. Louis remained cautious.

“He has a chance to play,” the former Tampa Bay Lightning star said simply, before noting that Samuel Montabelt would be the Blue Jackets’ quarterback.

The Quebec goalkeeper also said he was very happy to see Matheson again on the ice with his teammates. After all, Munimbolt was once again rubbing shoulders with Matheson when the two were playing for the Florida Panthers.

“We are very happy, he’s an excellent defender. We see him in practices, he’s always intense, he works hard. We can’t wait to see him in training again,” Monttemmboldt said.

“I played with him in Florida, and I would say he’s a very mobile defender, he excels in recovery and he’s very good at supporting offense. And we see that in training, he has a very good shot.”

So the 28-year-old veteran can lend a hand to defend the Canadian, whose shortcomings were especially evident in the bitter 5-1 conceded loss Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils, at the Bell Center.

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Matheson’s eventual return means management may soon have to make a difficult roster decision, as there is currently a surplus of defensemen.

The Pointe-Claire native rotated with his defensive teammates during practice, which happened when the first snow of the season hit the metropolitan area outside.

Matheson scored 11 goals and had 20 assists in 74 games with the Penguins last season. The Panthers first pick, 23rd overall, in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft has 49 goals and 89 assists in 417 regular NHL games with the Panthers and Penguins.