The news doesn't appear to be all that good in the case of Andrei Markov.
Cut on the right leg by the skate of goalie Carey Price, the Habs perpetual MVP spent last night in a Toronto hospital and there's a radio station in the Queen City that is reporting he was operated on, CKAC reports.
I'm no doctor, but if that's indeed the case, that would mean the skate caused some major damage, like a ligament. And that, my friends, would be an unmitigated disaster.
The Habs are playing in Buffalo Saturday night before heading out to western Canada for three games, a place that has not historically been very kind to the Canadiens.
We all know the Habs record without Markov in the lineup since the lockout (6-19-2, in case you don't), and his presence is vital to his team's success, especially with a completely re-made blue line that is clearly still trying to find some cohesion. If the injury were to cost Markov a month of action, that translates into 13 or 14 games missed in this crazy-compressed Olympic-year schedule.
I know past history can kind of be thrown out the window with all the new faces on the team, but based on the Habs record without Markov it would mean maybe three or four wins over the rest of October. And if indeed the Canadiens are sitting with, say, a 4-7-3 record on Oct. 31, it will make an eventual playoff spot that much more difficult to grab later on this season.
You may think I'm over-dramatizing an early-season injury, and you may say that it's better this happens now rather than in April (like it did last year), but you shouldn't under-estimate the importance of a strong start to the season in the era of the three-point game. It has become extremely difficult to make up ground in the NHL since it started awarding a loser point, and every single game, from No. 1 to No. 82, has become vitally important.
The Canadiens will likely come out with some sort of "lower body injury" report later today, which should effectively alleviate any fears fans may have. Feel free to hold your breath until then.
UPDATE: Thanks to PMK for pointing to this report from Sportsnet that Markov may have suffered tendon damage and could require surgery. Good morning everyone!