Canadiens hit with flu bug before weekend games against Rangers, Devils

The Canadiens cancelled practice Friday when five or six players came down with an intestinal flu.

A team spokesman named five players who stayed home – defencemen Sheldon Souray, Craig Rivet and Mike Komisarek and forwards Michael Ryder and Garth Murray – but some players said six of their teammates were sick.

“We don’t have all the guys at the rink and that’s why we didn’t skate,” said team captain Saku Koivu. “Hopefully they can come back on Saturday.”

The Canadiens have a busy weekend ahead, with afternoon games at home Saturday against the New York Rangers and Sunday against the New Jersey Devils.

Coach Guy Carbonneau said he would have the players on the ice for a short skate Saturday morning to see which are able to play. He said the team may have to call in help from the minors.

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Koivu said some were ill during a 5-1 loss in Washington on Thursday night, which may partly explain a listless effort.

“Some guys were vomiting during the game and other guys got the flu right after,” he said. “Probably one reason we didn’t play well was because some guys didn’t feel their best.”

Both goaltenders were healthy, and David Aebischer is to start on Saturday while Cristobal Huet will face the Devils on Sunday.