Where to start?
Honestly.. It was a sickening sight to behold last evening to see a player lying unconscious, unaware that from his face a gush of blood was spurting on to the ice. Regardless of all else that has and will be said on the issue, I hope we can all acknowledge that a promising young player was hurt in a way that no one wants to see. I know that hockey is a fast game and that the play that was made by Eric Gryba was not the sole reason that Eller suffered such horrendous injuries. But I also know that I’ve never seen a player fall face-first to the ice without protecting themselves if they hadn’t been knocked unconscious while on their feet.Whether or not the head was the only or principle point of contact is for Brendan Shannahan to solve. Personally I don’t care whether or not Gryba caught some of Eller’s shoulder. I’ve said the same many times when Habs players were on the other end of the hit.
As has been the case just about every time a Montreal Canadiens player has been involved with a controversial play over the last 5 years – the hockey world has been quick to rush to the court of public opinion to explain away how this was a hockey play, or somehow the Canadiens themselves were to blame for the hit to the head. I find the whole thing exhausting, lame, tired, dishonest, and boring. No punishment that the NHL could hand down will magically insert the Montreal Canadiens’ best centreman back into the lineup.
That really is the worst part in all of this. Going into the game we all understood that if the Habs were going to have a chance at victory in this series, they would need an outstanding performance from Carey Price, and they would need to generate a truck load of scoring chances given how amazing Craig Anderson has been this year. Price wasn’t outstanding, and scoring goals is going to be a lot harder with the Habs missing the player who generated the most offensive chances on the team over the final 15 games of the season.
To add insult to injury, it was disclosed that both Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta will miss tonight’s game with “upper body” injuries. This may explain why Gionta had such an invisible night himself collecting only two shots of the Habs 50, and why Pacioretty was held off of the scoresheet in almost 20 minutes of action. The question is: who will replace them?
Montreal will now be missing Gionta, Eller and Pacioretty, who combined for 37 regular season goals. The assumption was that Colby Armstrong would be the first player into the lineup should a player get hurt, but there is no way the Habs were planning on losing 3 players in the first game of the playoffs. Montreal will certainly not be able to muster 50 shots tonight. They are going to have to try to get back to a game plan that includes puck possession, traffic in front of the net, and defensive hockey that can limit the one-off chances that lately have crippled this hockey team.
I’m cheering for my team – but before game 2 – things look pretty bleak.
Go Habs Go!!