Max Pacioretty, who survived a vicious unpunished hit by Boston's captain Zdeno Chara, and could have made a big difference in the Montreal-Boston series, was given the green light to return to the game. Pacioretty said that he was given the permission to return to full-contact action by the medical staff of the Montreal Canadiens earlier today. Unfortunately for Max, there won't be any more action till the Habs start the 2011-2012 season.
Would he have made a difference in the current series? Most definitely. The 22 years old, 6'1", 203 lbs forward was one of the best players from the Montreal Canadiens to play against the Boston Bruins in the regular season. In four regular season games, Pacioretty managed to accumulate 6 points with four goals and two assists. Two of the four goals were scored in powerplays. His season came to an end after Zdeno Chara, the captain of the Boston Bruins, pushed his head into a stanchion in a controversial hit described by the NHL as "hockey play". Chara was not suspended for the hit and Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion along with a broken vertebra.
Fortunately for Pacioretty, the recovery process was quick, which led in turn to many controversial comments by Bruins' veteran forward Mark Recchi, now famously known among the Habs fans as "Dr. Recchi". Had the Habs eliminated the Bruins in the first round, Max would have been back in action with the team against the Washington Capitals. Now that the Habs are eliminated, it can only be counted as a blessing in disguise for Pacioretty who won't be rushed back to the game and will have plenty of time to get back in proper health and shape.
Pacioretty also appreciated the fact the Bruins' Zdeno Chara made an effort to reach out to him and discuss the incident. He said that the conversation was not long but it did allow him to move on from the incident.
In 37 games with the Habs this season, Pacioretty scored 14 goals and accumulated 10 assists for a total of 24 points. Although cut short, this was the "coming out" season for Pacioretty where he gave Montreal's fans glimpses of what he is able to accomplish. The future for the Canadiens can only look bright with players like Pacioretty in the lineup.