Sometimes “indefinitely” really does just mean unknown and not extended. The term is never intended to imply a long injury absence, but has taken on that ominous message when included in NHL injury timelines. Case in point: Montreal Canadiens’ forward Jake Evans. Just ten days after being ruled out “indefinitely” with a concussion and only four days since an update indicated there was still no timeline for a return, Evans is reportedly making progress in his recovery and traveling with the team to Las Vegas to open up their semifinal series with the Vegas Golden Knights, per TSN.
When Evans took a massive, long-distance hit from Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele at the end of Game One of the North Division finals, it certainly didn’t look good. Evans was stretched off the ice following the bone-rattling check and there was great concern for a player with a history of concussions. The play ended up ending Scheifele’s season, as his suspension outlasted the end of the Jets’ postseason efforts, but it was also expected to end Evans’ as well. Yet, TSN reports that Evans has been working out off-ice for several days without issue, skated on Saturday, and overall is making great progress while also going through the league’s concussion protocol. Evans will join the traveling party for the team’s trip to Vegas for Games One and Two, something that would definitely not be happening if he was still experiencing concussion symptoms and likely would not be happening if there wasn’t at least a chance that he might play.
With all that said, Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme has stated that is “not very confident” that Evans will play in Game One. It’s unclear if Evans is simply not healthy to play yet, or if this is a roster decision based on the bottom-six forward not being at full strength. Ducharme applied the same label to injured defensemen Jeff Petry and Jon Merrill as well, providing not added insight. However, Ducharme did say that he believes Evans could be “ready” in three-to-four days, which could put him in line for a Game Two start on Wednesday. If Evans returns at any point in this series, or even this postseason, it will be a surprise to many who saw his injury occur and expected the worst.