It Hab-Ened Last Night: Habs Salvage Point Amid Ridiculous Injuries
Well, it was an odd one.
In a game that Habs fans will likely remember for a long time, the Buffalo Sabres fought back from an early 1-0 deficit to beat the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 2-1 in overtime.
But the story of the game wasn't the score. It wasn't the magnificent performances in each goal from last year's Vezina winner, Ryan Miller, and a strong candidate to compete for the Vezina this year in Carey Price. It wasn't even the fact that for once, it seemed as if the Canadiens actually competed for most of the sixty minutes in which a game takes place - a fact that apparently wasn't mentioned to the Canadiens in their pre-season team meetings.
No, all of that would fall by the way side as this game progressed, as the story of last night's game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Buffalo Sabres was the ridiculous number of injuries the Canadiens would suffer throughout the night.
The big ones? Mike Cammalleri and Max Pacioretty.
Cammalleri would take cross-check to the small of his back early in the first from Mike Weber, and would leave the game in pain. It was later revealed that Cammy did indeed suffer a separated shoulder, and he will miss at least two weeks of action. Weber would take a two minute penalty, and David Desharnais would score on the ensuing powerplay to give the Canadiens their early lead.
If you thought that the powerplay and the goal sort of made up for the hit on Cammalleri, think again.
Not even a minute into the powerplay, James Wisniewski would take a a slap shot from the point. The puck would land directly on Max Pacioretty's rib cage, and after what seemed like an eternity on all fours on the ice, Pacioretty would leave the rink, and eventually leave the arena... hooked to an IV and laid down on a stretcher.
Originally, most thought that Pacioretty took the shot on his arm, and the theories varied from a bruise to a separated elbow to a completely shattered bone. We're still unsure what the exact nature of the injury is, but RDS is reporting that it is a rib injury. It's likely that Pacioretty was taken to hospital and hooked to IV to ensure that he didn't have any internal injuries, a precautionary measure. Some even feared that it could have been a collapsed lung, but as the dust settled it doesn't seem like it would be that bad. In fact, Pacioretty flew back to Montreal with the rest of the team tonight, so it's likely just a few broken ribs.
And if that wasn't bad enough, several others would get dinged up throughout the game. All would return, but to say that Habs fans were on life support with each passing injury would be an understatement.
- Jeff Halpern would be on the receiving end of TWO high hits. He would leave the game in the first, but return in the second, even though he wouldn't play very much as the game progressed.
- PK Subban would take a shot on the foot and leave the game, but he would come back in the second as well, finishing the game with 24 minutes of ice time.
- Scott Gomez would hobble off the ice after taking a shot himself, but he would be fine.
- If you can believe it, the same would happen to Andrei Kostitsyn, but he too would return.
- Hall Gill would take a shot off his hand! RDS would return it's nothing serious, however, after the game.
And as we all know, Benoit Pouliot wasn't even with the team, battling the flu. Add all this to, of course, the season-ending injuries to Josh Gorges and Andrei Markov, and I think I need a drink.
It's one thing to lose a player or two to injury in-game, it happens, but the sheer amount of players that left this game, mostly due to errant shots and high hits, didn't even make any sense. In the end, neither Cammalleri's or Pacioretty's injuries seem that bad, but if you saw either or both players go down, and if you saw the shot of Max Pacioretty being taken out of HSBC Arena on a stretcher, "nervous" wouldn't even begin to describe the emotion you were probably feeling. "Suicidal" would probably be a better word for it.
What we know, for now, is that Cammalleri is out for two weeks. Pacioretty, I would imagine, would at least be out for the next couple of games as the Habs are facing a back-to-back situation this weekend against the Sens on Friday and the Ducks on Saturday. I wouldn't be surprised to see Halpern sit the next one out as well.
But the good news? After these two games, and a Tuesday night road game in Philadelphia, the Habs will have an entire week off thanks to the All-Star Game on the 30th. They will re-take the ice Tuesday the 1st of February against the Washington Capitals. By then, barring of course any other injuries, the Canadiens could have most of their non-season-ended players back in the line up.
But the question still remains: What does this mean for the Montreal Canadiens and General Manager Pierre Gauthier heading forward, with the trade deadline approaching at the end of February? The needs of this team were already a top six forward. With these new injuries, and the potential to see what this team can or can't do when it really puts a strain on the depth chart these next couple of weeks, does that translate into a more immediate need for that forward, or potentially multiple forwards? The Hamilton Bulldogs are still playing well, but the two players that were really dominating down there - Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais - are both with the big team now and any players ready for a call-up would likely be bottom six forwards like Aaron Palushaj or Ryan White.
Of course, we don't want the GM to panic and I have to stress once again that the injuries to both the top six wingers seem to be minor, but as I said, this doesn't change anything in terms for the needs of this team. In fact, if anything, it makes them more apparently. Benoit Pouliot, should he recover from his flu in time for this Friday's game, will take one of those spots on the top six and the team has Lars Eller and David Desharnais to make up for the deficiencies in the short run. But should this team suffer a more significant injury, there's nearly no depth to make up for a team that's already struggling to score goals, especially five on five.
In all likelihood, we're probably best off waiting a little while, and seeing what this depleted Habs team can do in this weekend's game before making any rash claims, but do you think the Canadiens should attempt to make a trade, with a month still left until Gauthier has to deal with the trade deadline, or are you comfortable going forward with the team as it is?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below!