Shea Weber May Play Tuesday; Canadiens Announced 4-6 Week Injury 5 Days Ago

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2020

Montreal Canadiens' Shea Weber plays during an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber may return from his ankle injury as soon as Tuesday, according to coach Claude Julien.

"It'll be up to him," Julien said Monday, per Eric Engels of SportsNet.

Weber has not played since Feb. 4, and the Canadiens announced just five days ago that he would miss the next four-to-six weeks. With Montreal floundering and in danger of missing a playoff spot, it appears Weber is going to try to gut through the pain and return earlier than expected.

Weber said he's been told he cannot do any more damage to the ankle, so this will be more of a pain-management situation. The four-to-six-week timetable was initially greeted with relief considering many thought Weber would be out even longer. 

"I heard the same rumors as everybody else, that this was very serious," Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said Saturday. "I think what really happened was Weber is very private and the Canadiens are generally very private and they just felt that they weren't going to give an update until they knew [they] were very sure and they didn’t know for sure until eight days after."

The 34-year-old is producing a solid 2019-20 campaign, posting 13 goals and 21 assists from the back line. The ankle injury came after it seemed like Weber would be getting through a full season healthy for the first time since 2016-17. He was limited to 26 games in 2017-18 and 58 last season.

The Canadiens are currently nine points out of a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference with 21 games remaining. They've dropped four of their last six games with Weber out of the lineup.

While it's possible Weber can play through the pain, it's another question entirely about whether he can play effectively. A sprained ankle will cause pain any time he tries to shift his momentum, and while speed skating isn't a huge priority for the veteran, him even being a half-tick slower can be the difference between a stop and an open shot for an opponent.