BROSSARD – While no one on the Canadiens’ roster is looking for excuses, there’s no doubt that injuries have been a major factor in the team's tough season.
Ask any player standing in the Canadiens dressing room and they’ll tell you that with or without injuries, there’s always a way to get the win. As true as the statement might be, it certainly doesn’t help a team develop chemistry or consistency over the course of a season, and the Habs, with their league-high 410 man-games missed due to injury, can certainly attest to that fact.
|Travis Moen sidelined for 21 games with an upper-body injury|
“I don’t want to say that it’s because of injuries that we are where we are, but I definitely think it contributed to things,” expressed Lars Eller, one of only seven Habs who has suited up for over 70 games in 2011-12. “Every team is going to have injuries and you’re always going to have guys out for a few games here and there, but when you have three, four, five guys out for weeks and months, that’s going to hurt your team. Especially when it’s key guys like it’s been with us.
“It definitely makes it hard to always get those points,” added the Dane. “At the same time, the team that we had and the healthy guys we had in place could have performed better.”
Currently Josh Gorges and Erik Cole stand as the only Canadiens to have suited up for every one of the team’s 79 games to date. Despite managing to stave off injury and illness in 2011-12, Max Pacioretty was forced to sit out three games after being suspended for a hit on Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang, but otherwise would have also hit the mark. Monday morning, a few injured Habs that could still return for some action in the last three games of the year offered some status updates.
“I’m still waiting to see, but the plan is to get in at least a game or a couple of games before the season’s over,” shared Travis Moen, who is back practicing with the team after being sidelined for 21 games with an upper-body injury sustained Feb. 9 against the Islanders. “I’m feeling better so it’s just day-to-day at this point and I’m just waiting to get the okay from the doctors and get back in. It’s never easy to miss games and sit on the side and watch the team play so it will be good to get back in and try to help the team."
Also a likely candidate to return for an end-of-season appearance, Tomas Kaberle hinted that he’s in the final stages of his recovery and could be cleared for action as soon as Wednesday night.
“I hope I’ll be able to play. We’ll have to see how it goes over the next couple of days and I still have to talk to the doctors, but we’ll see again on Wednesday morning,” explained Kaberle, currently nursing an upper-body injury of his own. “I would have liked to play over the weekend, but sometimes plans like that just don’t work out. It was the coaches and the doctors’ decision. I haven’t been cleared to play in a game yet, but at least I’m cleared to practice.”
Shelved for the last 15 games and still unsure of whether he’ll be able to suit up before the Habs’ season closes out, veteran Mathieu Darche gave his thoughts on if the Canadiens’ string of injuries had any relation to size.
“Travis and I got hurt and we aren’t necessarily the smallest guys on this team. Gionta is also generally a very solid guy,” pointed out Darche. “I don’t think size really has anything to do with it – all you need to do is look at Martin St.Louis who played 500 consecutive games. I think it’s just more of a coincidence than anything else.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.