In the midst of a blistering hot streak, Tomas Plekanec has left the Canadiens on their road trip through Florida and returned to Montreal for personal reasons.
Having won seven of their last eight games, the Canadiens are in a good situation and should be able to afford losing Plekanec for one or even two games, but the hole created in the lineup by the veteran, tough minutes forward is cavernous.
Plekanec has been red hot of late, scoring three goals and three assists in his previous seven games, in spite of playing the top defensive minutes on the team, and carrying the bag entirely on his own now that he's playing with youngsters Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk instead of long time partner Brian Gionta.
Plekanec's two goals against Detroit on Thursday secured his sixth 20 goal season of his career.
The absence of Plekanec could open a window of opportunity for Lars Eller, as logically Therrien can not move Daniel Briere up onto that line and expect then to play the same sort of minutes, as the aging scorer is a gigantic liability in his own zone. Eller already has chemistry with Gallagher and Galchenyuk, and the opportunity to play bigger minutes could be exactly what he needs.
Eller has been struggling to produce offense, but has been the Canadiens' best possession forward over his previous four ames, and the top non-sheltered possession forward on the roster all season.
The personal reasons for which Plekanec is returning to Montreal are private, and we won't be speculating here.