A lineup that has been depleted by injuries since the beginning of the season was dealt another blow. Nikita Scherbak will be unable to play for the Montreal Canadiens tonight; the latest player to join a sizable injured list, and yet another player to sustain a concussion this season.
It means the Habs will be without five forwards who have played regular time while on the roster this season, presenting a lineup tonight that probably won’t be close to what the Habs will ice to start the 2018-19 season.
But some of these players will be sticking around, beating out their current teammates for contracts and roster spots, with these games down the stretch of a failed season serving as key evidence as the team prepares to evaluate every facet of the organization this summer.
There are two more chances for players to make their final impressions on those who will decide their fate. The first goes tonight against the opponent their club has seen the most success against this season.
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Tale of the Tape
Even with all those injuries, the Canadiens have handled the Red Wings quite convincingly this year, posting a 3-0-0 record while outscoring Detroit 20-6.
In the most recent game, Brendan Gallagher scored two of the team’s four goals, the final one being his 30th of the season as he hit the milestone for the first time in his career. In the three games, he has scored five times, and will be feeling confident about adding to his benchmark tonight.
With Gallagher hitting 30 and Paul Byron reaching the 20-goal plateau on Tuesday night, attention turns to Alex Galchenyuk to see if he can get one more to reach 20 on the year. It’s surely not a total he nor Habs fans expected to be chasing after he scored 30 goals in 2015-16, but it’s a feat nonetheless, and the former first-round pick has found other ways to contribute to the team this season.
Despite the relatively low goal total, and a concerted effort from the coaching staff to develop his defensive game, he is just five points back of his career high, having set a new mark in assists. Like Gallagher, he has enjoyed playing the games versus the Red Wings this year, registering five of his 32 assists against that opponent to go with two goals.
Detroit hasn’t simply decided to cruise to the end of the season after its most recent loss to the Habs, getting points in each of the four games since and seeing a winning streak come to an end in overtime on Tuesday night. To extend their points run to five they will need to at least match the Habs in goals through regulation, and that has proven an impossble task so far.