MONTREAL – The words “standard recovery time” have never really applied to Max Pacioretty.
When Pacioretty went in for an emergency appendectomy on Jan. 26, doctors predicted he’d be out for three to four weeks. Turns out, eight days were more than enough. While most people in Pacioretty’s position would probably still be groaning in pain and asking for more apple sauce eight days after having an organ removed, the 24-year-old power forward found a more fitting way to make himself feel better.
A win against the Sens was just what the doctor ordered.
“I feel really good surprisingly,” confirmed Pacioretty, who finished the afternoon with an assist, three hits and a plus-2 differential. “Everyone in here plays banged up all the time and maybe mine is a little bit more magnified because I had surgery but there are a lot of warriors in here who play through injuries all the time.”
Eight days may seem a little early to be returning to an NHL lineup after surgery, but if Pacioretty had his way, it actually might have been seven.
“He wanted to play yesterday. He came to see me on Friday after practice and said, ‘Coach, I’m ready to go’,” shared Habs head coach Michel Therrien with a chuckle. “I said, ‘Let’s take our time a little bit’. He came back again [and said the same thing] yesterday and we decided to make a game-time decision. I’m glad I made that decision because he was an impact player in our game today.”
Having already seen Pacioretty return from a broken vertebrae in 2010 to lead the team in scoring the following season, there weren’t many Habs surprised to see him bounce back from appendicitis faster than most people would recover from the “flu-like symptoms” he was originally diagnosed with.
“That just shows how much he wants to be out there,” stressed fellow Habs warrior, Josh Gorges, who blocked a season-high seven shots on Sunday. “He’s such a big part of our team. It was great to have him back and it’s a huge boost. He played great having just come out of surgery a week ago.
“The character guys we have in the room like Max – and we have a bunch of guys like that – they want to be out there,” he continued. “They’re going to put the time in and rest when they need to rest and work when they need to work. Being in shape beforehand helps recovery so I’m not really surprised he was back as quick as he was.”
It’s nothing new to see Pacioretty make a mockery of his prognoses and the only thing he does faster than recover is figure out how to redirect praise onto everyone else in the room.
“If anyone else in here was in my position, I know they would do the same thing. A lot of times, guys are banged up in here and you guys don’t know about it but unfortunately you can’t really hide the fact that I had surgery,” he explained. “There are a lot of warriors in here and everyone steps up every night.
“It would have been harder on me if my linemates hadn’t played so well tonight,” added Pacioretty of Erik Cole and David Desharnais, who scored the team’s only two goals in the 2-1 win. “They did a lot of the skating so they deserve a lot of the credit. You guys saw that Davey and Colesy were jumping right off the hop and it definitely made it a lot easier for me out there.”
Other than admitting he started getting a little winded in the third period, Pacioretty confirmed he felt “100%” in Sunday’s win and expects to feel better every day. In fact, one week after surgery, there’s only one side effect he hasn’t figured out a solution to.
“They made three holes and took my appendix out through my belly button, so they gave me an outie,” he joked. “I’m not too happy about that.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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