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Alexei Emelin returns to Montreal for personal reasons

The Russian defender will be returning to Montreal, but will not miss the game versus Tampa Bay.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Canadiens are playing quite well, and Alexei Emelin might be enjoying his best stretch of the year. However it was announced this morning that the hard hitting defender will return to Montreal for personal reasons.

Emelin leads the Habs in hits, with 172 on the season, which means his physical presence will undoubtedly be missed.

Michel Therrien will once again be forced to shuffle his defensive pairings. Who will slot into the Markov pairing? We don't quite know. Usually P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov form a great duo, however with the injury to Josh Gorges, Therrien will probably want to spread his reliable defensemen to the top two pairings.

Expect to see either Jarred Tinordi (hopefully) or Francis Bouillon (more likely) to earn a little more ice time while Emelin is away from the team.

As was the case with Plekanec, the personal reasons for which Alexei Emelin is returning to Montreal are private, and we won't be speculating here.

In the meantime here's a video to remind you what Emelin brings to the team:

Update: Emelin is not expected to miss any action, and should be joining the team in time for the game versus the Lightning.