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Montreal Canadiens forward Michael Bournival skates in on Ottawa Senator Craig Anderson.
Here the Habs are, one game into the 2013-14 season, and they’re arguably exactly where they were at the end of 2013—ripe to be picked on.
Parros is out of the lineup. Their most physical defenseman, Alexei Emelin, is obviously still injured. The 6’3”, 240-pound Douglas Murray, whom the Habs signed to replace Emelin, is also out.
Hell, even the 6’2”, 219-pound Davis Drewiske, a player who was only meant to see the ice from the press box, somehow got his shoulder injured for a month—probably from looking over it so often to see the long line of players moving ahead of him on the team’s depth chart.
However, looks can be deceiving, and the Habs are far from in bad shape. Ideally, yes, Parros, Murray and Emelin would be healthy (Drewiske? Considering his injury opened the door for the 6’6”, 227-pound Jarred Tinordi, the Habs could probably stand him staying injured a little while longer).
Still, none of the team’s stars are out. And there’s one key difference this year relative to last.
Aside from Tinordi being given an extended shot to play with Montreal, center Michael Bournival gives the Habs an above-average, albeit still undersized option to center the team’s fourth line. The injury to Parros opens the door for him to prove he’s got what it takes.
Bournival, projected to turn out to be little more than a second-liner at best, is not the team’s savior.
In all honesty, with him being just 5’11” and 196 pounds, White will realistically get the nod over him against the Philadelphia Flyers this Saturday night. Bournival is nonetheless representative of something bigger (no, not 85 percent of the NHL—something else).
It’s almost as if the hockey gods are trying to send Montreal a message here, not to tempt fate and maintain the team’s longstanding skill-over-size identity. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, especially if it gives deserving players the opportunity to prove they belong.
This isn’t meant to diminish what a healthy Parros means to the team.
It’s an attempt to see the silver lining in what is by all accounts an unfortunate situation. Rather than tempt fate, the Habs should just accept theirs for the time being and embrace the skill that they’ve got at their disposal.
They’ve still got sufficient toughness in Prust, Moen and Bouillon and “crazy” in White. Add in Tinordi, and the Habs could be far worse off. Some minor line shuffling would be the easiest, most likely option here.
It also makes the most sense.
This is no time to overreact and devote an entire slideshow to the impact of the Parros injury on the team as a whole. Bergevin doesn’t need to pull the trigger on a move right away. He needs to see how this team pulls together in light of this recent unfortunate incident.
Bournival, who scored four goals and one assist in six preseason games, will likely get his shot thanks to this sudden rash of injuries to the team’s big men. Saying it’s for the best would be in bad taste and disrespectful to Parros. But there is nonetheless some good that can come out of this mess.