Just hours ahead of Shea Weber’s return to Nashville tonight, he may have significantly crippled his chances of pulling out a win in his homecoming. The Montreal Canadiens defenseman, known for his heavy shot, hit captain Max Pacioretty with a shot while the team was working on their power play at practice earlier today. The puck struck Pacioretty in the right foot and he went down immediately. Pacioretty was unable to put any weight on his right leg and had to be helped off the ice. Habs coach Michel Therrien reports that Pacioretty will be a game time decision tonight, but those in attendance at the morning skate say that it is very doubtful that he suits up.
Since the Canadiens lost top forwards Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais to injury early in December, it has been Pacioretty that has picked up the slack on offense. Many expected Montreal to fall off the torrid pace that they began the season with as a result of the injuries, but there had been only a marginal difference in their winning ability until very recently. A lot of credit is due to Pacioretty who, since then-leading scorer Galchenyuk went down, had 10 goals and 5 assists in just 14 December games. He now leads the team with 15 goals and 30 points.
However, Pacioretty is just one person. The Canadiens are thin up front, and their lack of scoring depth has shown through, as they have won just one of their last five games. With Pacioretty now likely out for at least tonight and possibly longer, the Habs have their work cut out for them. The likes of Daniel Carr, Michael McCarron, and Chris Terry have already been called upon from the minors to play major NHL minutes, and now Bobby Farnham, promoted yesterday, will likely enter the mix as well.
Weber would surely have liked to win in his return to Nashville, but the fate of just one game is nothing compared to the consequences of any long-term absence for Pacioretty. With Galchenyuk and Desharnais both not expected back for another month, the Canadiens will be very short on scorers. Hopefully, the captain is not out long, but there has been no official word on the extent of his injury yet. Stay tuned for more information.