Simply, it was the worst of times and then the best of times. That is how events played out on Monday night as the Montreal Canadiens turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 overtime victory. This left the team and fans elated and still a little crestfallen all at the same time. Why?
The win kept Montreal within striking distance of Edmonton and Winnipeg and the Canadiens still have four games in hand on both teams. A compressed schedule for the last six weeks will be jammed to a breaking point but the Canadiens are in a unique position where they can move up and likely will not move down. The fact that the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames have slumped mightily could not have come at a better time.
There are areas to clean up as far as their play and moves to be made from Marc Bergevin’s side of things. However, last night was truly about the agony and the ecstasy.
The Agony: The Brendan Gallagher Injury
It was unfortunate news, to say the least, but Brendan Gallagher did indeed suffer a broken thumb and is considered “our for weeks”.
The #Canadiens improved depth in 2020-21 will be put to the test soon, as Brendan Gallagher's broken thumb suffered vs EDM on Monday will keep him out for several weeks & keep the Habs without the services of their most productive scorer on this list that goes back nearly 6 weeks pic.twitter.com/z8sCU0skuQ
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) April 6, 2021
Again, this all depends on a bunch of variables. First, there are two bones in the thumb. Is it a clean break or a fracture of both bones? Could there be any ligament damage? It is not uncommon to see torn ligaments with a broken thumb. That not only lengthens the recovery time but can have a profound impact on the play of a player. Just ask Adam Henrique who lost most of a season due to that type of injury.
Gallagher was Montreal’s most prolific goal scorer in the last six weeks with eight goals and he will be sorely missed. The thought process is that Marc Bergevin will likely make some sort of depth move. Does he have to? Montreal possesses more depth than ever and players like Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli, and even Corey Perry have produced well.
There is no doubt that Montreal will miss Gallagher’s net-front presence and shoot first mentality. However, at least this year, the Canadiens appear to have more scoring options going into the final weeks than previous seasons.
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Eric Staal turning back the clock
To be fair, Staal had a nice, quiet game for the most part in his debut. He was efficient, played well on both ends, and had a chance or two. The craziest thing was he had one of the best games from the faceoff dot all season (14 for 18 in draws).
Then, overtime happened…
ICYMI: Eric Staal scored his first goal as a Hab in Monday night's overtime win.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) April 6, 2021
For anyone that remembers, this shot, it should look familiar. Eric Staal has a release that kind of looks like Marc Messier’s from the off-wing position. The leg lifts up, the torque is created, and the shot magically winds up in the net.
Staal was able to get a little speed going and fire his shot. Mike Smith had some trouble with an earlier yet similar effort from Tomas Tatar. It was almost like a premonition. The Edmonton Oilers’ goaltender was not so lucky this time around as the Staal shot went by him and the crowd erupted.
The goal was more than just two points for Montreal. It completed a comeback. It boosted the spirits of a former leader who endured a tough season in Buffalo. Finally, it lifted a team that showed it had some depth that was not there in previous seasons. Maybe, just maybe, this year could be different.