Montreal Canadiens: The Habs Biggest Beneficiary Of Injury Woes

Red Wings v Montreal Canadiens
Red Wings v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

At this juncture, the Montreal Canadiens could double as a local infirmary, and for the third consecutive season the misfortunes have continued.

If not for the young players getting in their reps and finding chemistry, the Habs would be in an unenviable position. This year Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook had minimal time to play. Carey Price, Shea Weber and Paul Byron were forced to retire because of injuries not so long ago. 

The point is, Montreal has played considerably well considering the injury-lathened roster. One glimmer of positivity is the fact that some players have had increased minutes and responsibility than what they’re used to. While multiple players have played up in the lineup, one player stands out from the pack as the top beneficiary.

No. 71 Has Risen To 3C

On Saturday night when the Canadiens played against the New York Rangers, Evans centred the third line. This has become a very regular occurrence due to the injuries. Evans doesn’t seem to mind - in fact, he has played with more skilled linemates. 

Michael Pezzetta and Joel Armia are NHL players, but nothing more than fourth-liners. There is no shame in that, I would take that position any day of the week. But Evans knows the increase in linemate quality has been huge for his success and confidence. 

After a healthy stretch of games with Sean Monahan and Josh Anderson, Monahan has moved on to another line. Now Evans has the ‘engine that never stops’ - Brendan Gallagher. Anderson has struggled and Gallagher is no longer a spring chicken, but this is a solid third line. 

If you take a deeper dive into the members of the Canadiens' third line; you’ll notice their trio complement each other well. The man down the middle of the ice plays a speedy, smart two-way game; quick passes on the rush are his bread and butter. Anderson and Gallagher both go hard to the net and like to shoot off the rush - so you see, that’s why they work well together. 

Evans doesn’t need to do anything special, which has allowed him to grow his game. The increased skill level of his linemates has complemented his off-the-rush style. Are they the best third-line in the NHL? No, but they serve a purpose for the Habs and their depth, so it doesn’t matter now. 

Owen Beck could usurp Evans; falling back into the fourth-line centre slot. Or he could move to the wing on the third line. Or maybe not, but he hasn’t skipped a beat in his increased role, so it doesn’t necessarily matter. 

Evans has been a beneficiary of the injury misfortunes in La Belle Provence. But, if not for Evans's hard work, he wouldn’t be in his current position. He has proven to be a great next man up; showcasing the Habs' strength in depth.