The question in Montreal tonight will not be whether or not the Canadiens can take game 6 to force a 7th game in this conference semi-final, but whether or not they can do it without Hal Gill in the line up. One month ago there isn’t a person in Hockey who could have written those words. It is a testament to the incredible hard-work that Gill and Josh Gorges have done against the best 2 (3?) players in the game that Habs fans everywhere are holding their collective breath. How funny that the loss of Gill is seemingly more of a knock to the Canadiens at this point than the loss of their leader on defense – Andrei Markov. I will take some credit for noting on July 1 of last year that Gill was a playoff performer who would help in the post season. However, I was also among those fools who cried openly for Gainey’s head while watching Gill make play after goofy play in the regular season.
Gill did skate today, although Martin said that his status would not be determined until after the pre-game skate. Gill was joined by Jaroslav Spacek who may be ready to return from a virus that took its toll on the veteran defenseman over the past month. Both Markov and Paul Mara also skated with the team at Brossard, but are incredibly unlikely to play given the nature of their injuries.
Whoever plays tonight will face a daunting task. They must once again come from behind in a series against a far superior opponent on paper. It is fitting that in this season defined so thoroughly by injury, that the potential final game of the year would be played under the same duress. One thing is for certain: Montreal’s best players have to be the best on the ice tonight if we’re to have any hope for a game 7. Cammalleri had 9 shots on Saturday. We’ll need that again. We’ll need Plex to be the force he was in the regular season. Gionta, Gomez and whomever they are lined up with will need to cycle the puck and find a way to contribute on the score sheet.
As tough a task as it will be to beat the Champs tonight, we know it is possible. We’ve seen the resiliency in this squad. If tonight is going to be our final game, then so be it.. but we all want to see our team compete until the final horns sound. The Bell Centre will be rocking tonight in an attempt to give the Canadiens the extra edge they need.
Go Habs Go!!!!