For the majority of the Montreal Canadiens 2020-21 season, they have remained rather fortunate in the realms of injuries.
With the exception of Ben Chiarot breaking his hand early in the season, and Joel Armia’s concussion, the majority of the Canadiens have been unscathed by the injury bug. That is until Alexander Romanov broke Brendan Gallagher’s thumb with a wild slap shot that. This would prove to be the first domino that seemed to knock down plenty more thereafter.
The major injury to one of the team’s most crucial players seemed to spark a myriad of injuries across the lineup, with Tyler Toffoli missing time with a mysterious lower body injury, Jonathon Drouin with some sort of virus (non COVID related) and now leaving the team for personal reasons, both Paul Byron and Tomas Tatar out with lower body injuries, and most notably, Carey Price with a concussion.
The majority of these injuries we know a relative timetable for the return of the players, with Gallagher most likely returning somewhere around the start of the playoffs, and Tatar and Byron day to day.
However, in the case of Carey Price and Jonathon Drouin, the timeline becomes a bit murky. The team currently has Price listed as day to day, but his return continues to be pushed back, something that has many worried.
However, it’s been noted that Price’s most recent test results are trending in the right direction. Although, in the case of Drouin, no one really has an idea as to when we will see him back in the lineup, as he has been placed on injury reserve. More positively, not all of this is to be taken as completely destructive, as these injuries have given valuable ice time to younger players like Jake Evans, and of course, Cole Caufield.
But circling back to the point of this article, these injuries to key players on the team have highlighted their importance.
Say whatever you will about the seasons that Price, Drouin, Tatar, and Byron are having, they remain key contributors to this seemingly fragile team. Despite their short comings this year, their roles in the lineup contribute to the overall success of the organization.
As a team that is currently struggling to score more than two goals per game, I think it goes without saying that they miss Paul Byron’s speed through the neutral zone, or the pressure he provides in the offensive zone and on the penalty kill. The same goes for Tatar, who the team could use right now to generate some speed into the offensive zone, and his creativity on the cycle.
Furthermore, despite the criticism, the team definitely misses Drouin’s vision, creativity, and play making ability as they continue to try and find a formula that will help them score some goals. Also, believe it or not, goals can be generated from the Canadiens crease, as they have for so many years, with many Canadiens players benefiting from a powerful puck play by Carey Price.
Because, while Jake Allen is doing sensational in Price’s absence, he cannot move the puck like Price. Finally, everything Brendan Gallagher brings to the line up can be measured in quantitative and qualitative data, as he is seemingly the engine that drives this Canadiens team. The team undoubtedly misses his energy, leadership, and penchant for getting in the dirty areas and scoring a greasy goal when they need it.
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For as much criticism as these players receive (rightfully or wrongfully), we fans now have an idea what our lineup would look like without these players, and the benefit they bring to the team every night.