The Montreal Canadiens with only one point out of a possible eight on their road trip, so now they’re back at home for a four game home stand. The Habs are the worst team in the NHL on the road this season. Now they’re without Shea Weber for the rest of the season and Carey Price until further notice. The New York Rangers in town ….
– There was a lot to like about the Habs in this one, but we have to preface it with the point that the Rangers were completely disinterested. They didn’t give one lick about this one while the Habs were in the mood to battle. Like Brendan Gallagher whose theme this year is “I hate losing”. Doesn’t matter the score or standings, if you’re not trying, he hates you. He only knows how to bust his hump. Big respect.
– Wow that was quite the first game for Noah Juulsen. That bodes tremendously well for the future. The thing that is interesting is Juulsen isn’t really know as an offensively gifted defenceman or someone who has the mobile defenceman tag but he sure looked capable of adding to the mix and delivering quick sharp passes up ice. I loved what I saw. He was on the first unit penalty kill as well. Very impressive first night for Juulsen. Would love to see him all year here.
– Charles Hudon continues to impress. His offensive instincts on the second goal were extraordinary. He slowed down the play and waited and waited until it opened up for him. He then dished a gorgeous pass for an easy tap in for Petry. Hudon has been the best new addition this season I would say. Even ahead of Mete. Hudon will have a stronger campaign next season.
– The best hockey of Jeff Petry’s career right now. Don’t look at his plus-minus. Everyone with a lot of ice time is going to be terrible. Petry with another smooth rush up the ice for a goal. He’s been the best defender this year for the Habs by a long margin. He has 10 goals. He is at a career season high for goals and points with two dozen games left. That’s remarkable.
– Tomas Plekanec had an excellent game. He has been playing well and has been part of the only stable tandem for a while. He and Gallagher have great chemistry together. Keep in mind always that Plekanec faces the opponent’s best center and still has helped Gallagher to his best statistical season as a pro it looks like unless he completely falls apart in the last 20.
– A shout-out to Stephane Waite. Antti Niemi continues to stop pucks for the Habs putting many good starts on the board. I didn’t think when the Habs picked him up that it was possible for him to tend the net so well. He may just fetch a draft choice.
– Philip Danault had an excellent game. He hustles. He is on the right side of the puck. He’s a very smart player. Not enough offensive finish to be a 1-2 but he is the perfect three on any solid hockey team. He is the quintessential three. He will really prosper on a strong team.
– A dominating performance by the Habs so I am reluctant to put anyone here. There have been plenty of nights to criticize this group and with plenty of vigour. This isn’t one of them so we will take a pass on most of the things that you’ve surely heard a lot of times already.
– With the games meaning so little except to evaluate talent for next season, it’s the Wilde Cards that has become the section with the vital info, so let’s get to it.
There is a big problem but this issue is not specific just to the Canadiens. Everyone has to get a lot better at making sure athletes are safe from concussions. The latest is Carey Price out indefinitely with a traumatic brain injury. Earlier this year, Al Montoya also suffered a concussion. It too showed in a latent manner and that is what makes this all so challenging to get a handle on. When it is a situation like Marc Andre Fleury who shows symptoms directly after getting hit, it’s easy to diagnose and remove the player. When it’s like Montoya and Price, and the symptoms show up later, it’s difficult to know the right course of action in the moment. Mike Smith and Jonathan Quick were pulled out of games for protocol reasons and they didn’t show any symptoms that night, nor later, and they were angry as was their entire organization that they were pulled for nothing. Brendan Gallagher got pulled as requested by the spotter and he was angry too that he was taken out of the game. It’s such a difficult area. Here we have five examples that are grey, unlike Fleury and his obvious symptoms. In these five examples, two players were concussed. Three were not. In the moment that it happened, all five looked the same.
I don’t know what to suggest but I do know this…. if a player who is already concussed and is not showing symptoms yet takes another blow to the head, this is when serious and irreparable damage can happen to a player. A blow to an athlete already suffering is, science is learning, the most dangerous thing possible to him.
So what now? I don’t have an answer. This isn’t just a Montreal Canadiens problem. It’s not even just an NHL problem. It’s a sports problem. It’s a societal problem. If you suspect you or your child has received a possible concussive blow, remove you or your child from activity for three weeks. That’s correct. Three weeks. This is the right solution for you simply because no sports activity you’re doing is that important in your amateur life. Take yourself out of the game. Your brain is for your life in its entirety. But what about an athlete whose entirety is his life? I don’t know but I am smart enough to know that you can’t just pull athletes from the game who say they’re fine and then pass a SCAT test for 15 minutes in the locker room and they’re fine.
We got a long way to go and sure if you want, you can point a finger at the Habs, but please make sure to point it at every pro team and even college teams and junior teams in all of sports. They falter too. Everyone falters. No one knows how to keep these athletes safe. The brain doesn’t tell its story in the following moments after injury. It tells its story over the course of a life – when too often it is too late.
– A lot of people are enraged that the Habs medical staff didn’t operate sooner on Shea Weber. I honestly do not share that view.
Tendons are tricky. Tendons tear and rip away from the bone. Most of the time they heal on their own. They slowly reconnect and that includes recovering while playing. A partially torn tendon wants to attach back to the bones of the foot.
The human body is a remarkable thing. It has instincts of its own. It has a home and it wants to get back there. The course of action when you have a torn tendon is to let time do what time does almost at every opportunity.
Now why didn’t Shea Weber’s tendon re-attach to the bone? Why didn’t it get back to its natural state of affairs? It should have. Weber’s left foot was in a boot to isolate it for almost two months. He then skated lightly for two weeks which surely was moderated to such a degree that no damage was caused skating. It just wouldn’t re-attach.
I don’t believe anyone made a mistake here. I don’t hold the medical staff at fault. The boot and the convalescence he did was the right course of action. The light test skating was the right course of action. You don’t go right to surgery in this world. Surgery is the thing you do when the other things aren’t working. Surgery is your last resort.
It is in fact a positive that they found the problem. The worst would have been a Peter Forsberg situation. That was what was concerning earlier this week. Forsberg couldn’t get his foot in a skate comfortably. He couldn’t play anymore and they had little clue what happened to cause all his strife. A foot injury but what was going wrong that he was never comfortable? He retired too young.
This is good to know what Weber had and now it’s done. A successful surgery completed by the best foot doctor there is and Weber will recover from it fully. The tendon is reconnected. He will be ready for training camp. It didn’t look pretty and on the surface I can see what it looks like, but in the medical community this is exactly how this injury is treated.
– General Manager Marc Bergevin has been on the road scouting a number of teams in the last month as he prepares for the trading deadline. Recrutes has learned that he has nothing imminent or concrete at this time but that conversation continues on a number of fronts. The top prize for other teams is Max Pacioretty but there is nothing concrete to report that is intensely being negotiated. The organization will exercise patience if the right deal can not be found. They have the power of patience as Pacioretty is contracted next season as well.
Tonight, Bergevin scouted the Wild and the Devils in Newark. This is the second time he has travelled to see the Wild that we know of. Nothing is imminent at all but the target there would likely be young center Joel Eriksson-Ek. He has struggled offensively which can often happen to young players just finding their way at a higher level but he was a first round draft choice and much is expected of him.
The Jets had two scouts at the game tonight and if they had their eyes on Max Pacioretty, the prize in return is a young center drafted in the first round Jack Roslovic who had a strong season in the minors and who was called up this season moving over to the third line on the wing for Winnipeg. Recrutes has not received intel on this possible trade.
The Habs also have Tomas Plekanec as a movable piece. His contract expires this season and the ask for him is a second round draft choice. It is expected that a team will offer at least this.