You wouldn’t know it based on their 8-5 record, but the Montreal Canadiens have been missing some key players lately. They’ve still been winning hockey games while doing their impression of the Ottawa Senators from 2013, but the Habs are set to look a lot healthier this weekend.
Head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Max Pacioretty will play this weekend through TSN. He hasn’t played since October 15 when he strained a hamstring against the Winnipeg Jets. Montreal has gone 4-3 in his absence and will welcome his scoring ability with open arms.
While the Canadiens have still been winning games, their offense hasn’t been particularly explosive lately. The team has only scored four goals in its last three games and Pacioretty will be a big boost to the ailing offense. He had three points in five games prior to the injury, and put up 39 points through 44 games for Montreal in 2013.
There’s a chance that Pacioretty won’t jump right back into the top-six though. In his absence, two strong top lines have emerged and it might not be in the team’s best interest to break them up for what is sure to be a mildly rusty forward.
Michael Bournival has given quite a spark to the games of Brian Gionota and Tomas Plekanec. There’s no way that the team breaks up the combination of Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher and Lars Eller at this juncture either. If that’s the top-six right now, then where does Pacioretty fit in?
Suddenly Montreal could have three strong scoring lines if Patches can reinvigorate David Desharnais on the third unit. There’s nothing wrong with being on the third trio either. Every group has to have a distinct role. Just look at what Joe Pavelski manages to do from the “third line” with the San Jose Sharks.