How else can anyone explain the Habs injury situation right now? With Wednesday's announcement that Brian Gionta is gone for undetermined period with a broken left foot, it appears the Canadiens are being subject to an inordinate amount of bad luck this season, and the likely return of Ryan O'Byrne and Georges Laraque on Friday will do little to soften the blow of losing a top line winger and team leader.
Injuries to key players are supposed to build character on teams, and losing one like Andrei Markov in Game 1 of the season should have taken up the character-building quota for this season and next. But with O'Byrne going out the very next day, and eventually Gill and now Gionta, this is starting to get a little ridiculous.
In light of this, it's a minor miracle Roman Hamrlik wasn't seriously hurt in the waning moments of overtime in the 3-2 shootout win over Carolina on Tuesday. But, then again, just because Hamrlik was at practice today doesn't mean he wasn't hurt, considering Gionta had been playing since Nov. 2 with a broken foot and Gill played a similarly long time with the same ailment.
Mais bon. What's done is done, and the Canadiens now have to look forward, forward to back-to-back games against the powerhouse Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings. How, pray tell, does this team as it's currently constituted expect to compete with two legitimate contenders like that?
Simple. Goaltending. Ride that goalie as far as he will take you, and if Carey Price is able to continue the form he has shown in his last five games the Canadiens in fact do have a chance to win one of the two games this weekend, which would have to be considered a wild success under the circumstances.
Not exactly a high percentage formula for success, but I see little else that can happen in the next two days that will not make Price the most determining factor between a win and a loss. Will the power play suddenly revive itself to gain the offensive zone consistently, let alone actually score a goal? Will Scott Gomez start to display some of his dazzling puck skills and speed? Will Andrei Kostitsyn hit a hot streak? Will Glen Metropolit, as valiant a player as he is, be a suitable replacement for Gionta? Will the defence be able to start an effective breakout, not over the course of an entire game, but just one breakout, one time?
Any one of those things might actually happen during Friday's contest in Washington, but the fact is that practically every single one of those things - plus several others - has to happen at the same time for the Canadiens to start showing a sign of life. Barring that extremely unlikely scenario from playing itself out, the Habs will have to fall back on Price. Which is what they've been doing for the last two games that Gionta has missed already.