For the first time since Oct. 13, Ryane Clowe will be in a New Jersey Devils uniform and playing against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. He's been out since suffering a concussion in only his sixth game with the Devils since coming over as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
According to Devils head coach Peter DeBoer, the team wanted to ease Clowe back into the lineup due to the fact he plays a rough-and-tumble style which obviously isn't ideal for someone on the heels of a head injury.
Here's what DeBoer told the Star-Ledger before the Christmas break:
"We just started to incorporate him back into our main practices, doing a lot of bumping and grinding with him. I think that's the big thing. He's a power forward. He's not a speed, skill guy, so he's got to be able to take the pounding and be in game shape to work the boards and get in those tough areas and battles," DeBoer said.
"We want to see some of that and how he responds to that before we stick him in. He's very close and so far he's handled all those tests very well."
Clowe noted earlier in the year he had concern about what concussions would do to his brain, but more recently has been itching to get back. He'll return to a Devils lineup that has shown improvement more recently this year, keeping them firmly in the wide-open Metropolitan Division. The Devils sit just one point out of third place in the Metro.
It appears Clowe will slot in with New Jersey's fourth line in his return against the Blue Jackets, according to Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger.
Clowe has one assist in six games with the club this season after signing his five-year, $24.25 million deal over the summer.