Injuries are part of any sport and while there is an old saying that one should not use injuries as an excuse, the fact remains that in a league where parity has become the norm, having one or more key players out of the line-up for any extended periods of time can have a huge negative impact on the end results.
No other team knows that better than the Montreal Canadiens whom, just last season after a very hot start, lost the league reigning Most Valuable Player in Carey Price, only to see their season crumble into pieces, unable to stop the slide towards the bottom of the NHL standings. While Price was the key injured player last season, the Habs had also lost the services of other important contributors such as Brendan Gallagher (broken fingers) and P.K. Subban (back) who was shut down when the season was lost, amongst others.
The 2016-2017 season doesn’t seem to be much kinder to the Canadiens who have been dealing with injuries to key players. Zach Redmond missed the teams’ first 21 games to an injury. Young phenom Alex Galchenyuk will miss his 14th game of the season tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs, as he hurt his knee on December 4th. He was averaging a point per game at the time. David Desharnais and Greg Pateryn are still sidelined and have both missed 12 games so far. Brian Flynn missed 11 games, Andrew Shaw will miss his 10th game tonight, Artturi Lehkonen missed 9 games earlier this season, tonight will be Andrei Markov‘s eight game missed to a lower-body injury and Nathan Beaulieu missed 6 games this season. Winger Paul Byron will miss tonight’s game with what was described as an upper body injury after falling victim to a solid check by Patrick Sharp in Wednesday’s game against the Dallas Stars.
To make matters worse, the Canadiens have now lost Gallagher for a minimum of 8 weeks (18 games minimum) to a broken hand as he was victim of a slap shot from none other than Shea Weber, hitting him on the hand which resulted in the feisty winger requiring surgery to realign some bones.
With the injuries above-mentioned, the team has called up wingers Sven Andrighetto and Nikita Scherbak, who will be making his NHL debuts tonight against the Maple Leafs.
With all that said, the Canadiens are not the team suffering the most, believe it or not, to the injury bug. As of December 31st, the Detroit Red Wings had lost 252 man-games, followed by the Edmonton Oilers with 212 man-game. The Habs were 14th in the NHL at the time, with a total of 103 man-game lost. The healthiest team in the league this season has been the Washington Capitals, whose players have missed a combined total of… 10 games all year! Second are the San Jose Sharks with 34 man-game lost followed by, surprisingly, the Colorado Avalanche who have lost 52 man-game.
The good news for the Canadiens is that both Galchenyuk and Markov are scheduled to come back to the line-up this week, while Byron is working out off-ice. The team has yet to provide any concrete update on Desharnais and Shaw.