It has been all but confirmed that rookie forward David Desharnais will not be part of the lineup tonight as the Habs take on the Boston Bruins in an elimination game at the Bell Center in Montreal. After taking a 2-0 lead in the series, the Habs lost three straight games, including the first two at the Bell Center to give the Bruins a 3-2 series lead. While the Boston Bruins may end up making franchise history if they win tonight and become the first ever Bruins team to win a series when down 2-0, the Habs are just not ready to give up. Case in point: the Canadiens held an optional morning skate, justified by Coach Martin in anticipation of the fact that the players will be playing two back-to-back games, with the belief intact that the Habs will be returning to Boston for game 7 on Wednesday.
Desharnais is not the only one with the big question mark surrounding his status for tonight's game. Defenseman James Wisniewski was also absent from the practice yesterday at the Complex Sportif Bell in Brossard and from today's morning skate. In staying with tradition, Head Coach Martin has informed the media that the inclusion of Desharnais and/or Wisniewski will be a game-time decision.
Whether Yannick Weber will be part of the lineup to replace either Desharnais or Wisniewski is also another decision that has been up in the air. No confirmation has been given with regards to that and upon exiting the ice, Weber did not know whether he will be playing tonight or not. In addition, no word has been passed on about the inclusion of Benoit Pouliot or Paul Mara either. It seems unlikely that Pouliot will return to the lineup and if Desharnais or Wisniewski remain absent, expect to see Yannick Weber as the 12th forward (or 7th defenseman with powerplay presence) and Paul Mara on defense. Finally, if the Canadiens do make it to game 7, chances are that David Desharnais will not participate in that game as well and may end up missing 4-6 weeks with a sprained knee.
Surprisingly, the optional skate this morning was also missed by some of the struggling veterans of the team, for example Scott Gomez. Only Auld, Mara, Subban, Weber, Spacek, Gill, White, Pyatt, Moen, Darche, Eller, Halpern and Pouliot attended today's morning skate.
The Habs-web-world was abuzz with chatter about the referee selection for tonight's game: Chris Lee & Kevin Pollock. The infamous Lee does not bode well with the Habs fans who remember far too well the many controversial decisions taken by him. While the ref selection may be a bad sign for the Habs, Mike Boone from Hockeyinsideout.com reported that the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet will be performing the national anthems before the game and the fact that the Habs have never lost a game with the MSO performing pre-game.
The puck drops at 7:00 PM tonight at the Bell Center in Montreal.