BROSSARD – The excitement surrounding the Canadiens’ third straight victory Saturday night – a 4-1 win over the rival Philadelphia Flyers – was likely dampened by the prospect of losing several key players during a raucous third period at the Bell Centre.
Thoughts of last season, when the Canadiens topped the NHL with 440 man-games lost to injury, probably crept into the minds of many as Colby Armstrong, Max Pacioretty, Alexei Emelin and Brendan Gallagher were injured in the final frame.
While Emelin, Armstrong and Pacioretty returned to practice on Sunday, absent was 20-year old Gallagher, who suffered a concussion after taking a hit from Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn with 16:07 remaining in Saturday night’s contest.
|Max Pacioretty after he came into contact with Flyers’ defenseman Kimmo Timmonen’s skate.|
“In Gallagher’s case, it’s a concussion. We’re going to follow the protocol,” explained head coach Michel Therrien at Sunday’s post-practice press conference. “He felt much better this morning than last night. He definitely won’t play on Monday night against Carolina, and we’ll take it from there.”
Gallagher, who recorded his fifth goal of the season and second multi-point effort of his young career against Philadelphia, was displaying outstanding chemistry alongside David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty when the injury occurred. The trio accounted for five points on the night against Philadelphia.
“He’s a really easy player to play with. It’s unfortunate that he got hurt,” said Pacioretty, who recorded his seventh and eighth assists of the season in Saturday night’s win. “We had great chemistry going last game [against Philadelphia]. He gets in on the forecheck and he moves his feet, which makes it easy for his linemates, so he played a great game. Hopefully, when he comes back, we pick up where we left off.”
Desharnais, meanwhile, praised the former Vancouver Giant for his relentlessness on the puck and an unwavering commitment to playing two-way hockey.
“It’s very bad luck. He’s a guy who works extremely hard,” said Desharnais. “He’ll work with any line, so there’s no bad fit with a guy like that. He’s always well-positioned, and he’s the first guy on the puck. He always back-checks so we’re able to get the puck back to start a new rush.”
Therrien explained that Gallagher would not return to the Canadiens’ line-up until he has “assurances that [he] is 100% and that everything is o.k.,” noting his reluctance to ever put a vulnerable player at risk.
|Gallagher's got the moves|
Pacioretty himself suffered a scare on Saturday night when he came into contact with Flyers’ defenseman Kimmo Timmonen’s skate, suffering a laceration in his rib area. The New Canaan, CT. native, who underwent an appendectomy on Jan. 25 and missed only four games following surgery, suffered no apparent serious injury on the play.
“I knew something was wrong,” said Pacioretty, who’s hopeful he can return to action on Monday. “I lifted up my jersey to make sure there wasn’t a cut, but obviously there was one. There’s some bruising around the muscle and the ribs, but it’s not something that’s going to hold me back. I don’t know about feeling lucky, but we’re winning games, so it’s lucky in that sense.”
Both Carey Price and P.K. Subban did not participate in Sunday afternoon’s practice session as the pair battle flu-like symptoms. While Price is set to return as back-up to Peter Budaj on Monday night against the Hurricanes, Subban is suffering from a sore throat and he will likely be in the line-up Monday night as well.
Captain Brian Gionta put the Canadiens’ injury situation into perspective, however, noting that while injuries are bound to occur, staff and players alike are doing everything they can to avoid a similar scenario to the 2011-12 campaign.
“During a season, there’ll always be injuries. The key is to minimize them,” said Gionta. “The shortened calendar we’ve got this year affects everyone. It’s a lot of games in a short amount of time. We’ve got to manage and maximize the time we do have. We’ve got to find a balance between practice and rest. Up until now, I find the coaching staff has done an excellent job in that area.”