The Montreal Canadiens chances at making the playoffs this season are already down to zero.
If not, there would probably be much more groaning and complaining that the team is being forced to play games this week.
When Gianni Fairbrother and Louis Belpedio were added to the Covid protocol list yesterday, it brought the total number of players ineligible to play due to the virus to 13. Add on a few more players who are injured and the Canadiens essentially have an entire lineup out of the lineup.
Not to mention, their top three goaltenders are unavailable right now with Carey Price still injured and Cayden Primeau recently joining Jake Allen on the Covid list. It is making it nearly impossible for the Canadiens to ice an entire lineup. We have seen a handful of players make their NHL debuts in the past few games and while this is no shot at players like Rafael Harvey-Pinard or Corey Schueneman or Brandon Baddock, but they wouldn’t be anywhere near this roster if everyone was healthy right now.
With the Canadiens sitting on a 7-22-4 record, playing through these ridiculous times is not changing their playoff fortunes so there hasn’t been that much consternation about it. No matter how crazy the whole situation is right now.
Fortunately, the team is going to get a little reprieve in the coming days. They lost 4-0 to the Carolina Hurricanes last night and dropped an overtime affair to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. They will face the Florida Panthers tomorrow as the finale of their three game road trip.
Then, they are off until January 12th when they will travel to Boston to play the Bruins. That gives them ten days completely off between games. Of course, this Covid thing could just get worse in the meantime, but if it doesn’t the Canadiens will have a much more NHL looking lineup by the time they face the Bruins.
Over the next couple days, Artturi Lehkonen, Laurent Dauphin and Mike Hoffman will be out of Covid protocol. All three should be good to go by the time the Habs head to Boston on January 12th. Then, a couple of days before that game, Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, Ben Chiarot, Tyler Toffoli and Chris Wideman will all be out fo Covid protocol as well.
It remains to be seen if they will be able to jump right back into the lineup a couple of days later, but if not it won’t be much longer after that Bruins game before we see a handful of key players return to the ice.
It has been a wild couple of weeks for the Canadiens with players entering protocol, some games being postponed but others not, and having to call up about a dozen players to fill out a somewhat NHL(ish) lineup.
They will have to do that again tomorrow against the Panthers, but after that we should start seeing something much closer to a regular lineup for the Canadiens going into the future.