That is. Only 14 games left to this season from hell if you’re the Montreal Canadiens. The hick? They have to play those games in a tight, 28-days span. For the team with the most man-games lost and by a wide margin, the risk of further injuries is high. The good news? They’ll all be able to rest, even be operated on comes May at the latest.
This also means that there are only 28 days left for someone like Carey Price to make a return to play, if indeed a possibility. It also means that that’s the short amount of time players like Mathieu Perreault, Laurent Dauphin and Chris Wideman have to impress the Canadiens’ brass that they deserve a contract extension… or if not in Montreal, somewhere else in the league.
Here’s the team’s schedule from now until the end of the month, of the season.
As you can see, starting next week, Martin St-Louis’ men will have a stretch of 7 games in 12 days, gruelling for NHL players. To make matters worse, they will be travelling through it all as three of those games are on the road in New Jersey, Toronto, back home for one against Winnipeg, before going to Columbus before returning to Montreal for two more.
Prospects on trial
We have seen Jesse Ylönen (although with very limited ice time) being given some time with the big club. After making his acquisition from Colorado in the Lehkonen trade, 20 year-old defenseman Justin Barron has had some good looks. Tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, newly signed prospect Jordan Harris will get his first taste of the NHL.
For young men like this, it’s an opportunity to showcase what they can do, to leave a good impression before coming back to training camp in the Fall. Particularly under new management, but also at a position (defense) where the team is most likely to have a brand new look.
14 games to impress, to show that you belong. That’s all that’s left. And then, for VP of Hockey Ops Jeff Gorton and for his GM Kent Hughes, there will be two windows to put to fruition their plan for the on-ice product for next season. The NHL Draft, preceded by the Draft lottery, followed by the free agents’ market. NHL experts and fans alike are expecting a lot of movement, for substantial changes to be made, around the Canadiens. After all, you don’t battle for dead last in the NHL, make managerial and coaching changes without some major player-personnel turnover.