The New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens are both in action tonight, taking on two of the league’s powerhouses in Carolina and Colorado respectively. Those would be difficult matches even at full strength for the two rebuilding clubs, but neither one will be.
The Devils have placed Ty Smith on injured reserve with an upper-body issue retroactive to January 19. Colton White has been recalled in his place, just a couple of days after he cleared waivers. Smith played just over 15 minutes against the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday and will now miss at least the next few days after receiving the IR designation.
Now 21, Smith has been an enigma this season after such a strong rookie campaign in 2020-21. After putting up 23 points in 43 games while averaging over 20 minutes a night and finishing seventh in Calder Trophy voting, the sophomore slump has gotten to him in 2021-22. Smith has just ten points through 33 games, has been moved up and down the lineup seemingly on a period-by-period basis, and has failed to come anywhere close to replicating the outstanding possession numbers he had as a rookie. Selected 17th overall in 2018, he’s a huge part of the future for the Devils that needs to get his game back on track. Perhaps a short stint away from the ice while he deals with this injury will actually do him good as a sort of reset halfway through the season.
Meanwhile, in Montreal, the Canadiens have placed Jonathan Drouin on injured reserve. Jeff Petry and Josh Anderson are also game-time decisions against the Avalanche tonight and Michael McNiven has been recalled as an emergency backup after Samuel Montembeault suffered a minor injury.
For Drouin, this comes after the report from Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports earlier in the day that he is back in Montreal undergoing further evaluation. He suffered an injury on Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights, when he played just 12:52 and wasn’t available for the team in overtime. While nothing has really gone right for any Canadiens players this season, it has been good to see Drouin back and contributing after taking a leave of absence from the team last spring. With 20 points in 32 games, he is actually the team’s second-leading scorer, just behind Nick Suzuki (22 points in 39 games). With him out of the lineup, the already offensively-challenged Canadiens will be even more so.