Eyebrows raised and fans started to freak out when the Buffalo Sabres decided to bring star player Jack Eichel back into the lineup, with just a few games to go to the regular season, as the team is more than definitely out of the playoff race, currently sitting last in the entire league with just 58 points.
- Alright we can be a tad positive as they just got their first regulation victory in over a month, against the Chicago Blackhawks. But fans remain stressed out to see Eichel in action. The Sabres best player had been out since mid-February. As you can remember, the 21-year-old was injured in a Feb. 10 game in Boston when he was taken down by Boston Bruins defenceman Matt Grzelcyk. His recovery time was expected to be four to six weeks.
Eichel, who also missed more than a month in 2016 with a high-ankle sprain in the opposite leg, was expected to be shut down for the balance of 2017-18, but the Sabres changed their mind. Now another Eastern Conference is thinking of doing the same with one of their star players, and it just seems ridiculous. FanRag Sports' Eric Wollschlager did not hold back when talking about the return of Eichel, and the Montreal Canadiens should be listening:
"It is utterly ludicrous. Though also an apt phrase to describe the inept and hapless 2017-18 season, the idea that Eichel should have his sights set on anything other than preparation for next season is painfully terrible. The young star leads the team in points, despite having missed 14 games already this season – he has proven his worth. There is little reason to push him back into games before season’s end; there are a lot of reasons to bench him for the final 13 games of the year."
On Monday night, the Canadiens started veteran netminder Antti Niemi against the Florida Panthers, who ended up shutting down the Habs 2-0. However, the backup goalie was none other than Carey Price. After missing 13 games with a concussion, he was given the green light to play by the Canadiens’ medical team, and head coach Claude Julien is aware of all the criticism the Habs will get for playing Price, especially now that the Canadian team is out of the playoff - even though we all knew that months ago!
“I think we’re in the best position to make those decisions because we’re there,” Julien said to media members after the team’s morning skate Monday in Brossard. “The people who are worried don’t know all the details, they don’t know everything, and they never will know everything. But at the same time, if we worry about the perception on the outside that doesn’t mean we’re going to make the right decisions on the inside. So we can’t get caught up in that stuff.”
Price suffered the concussion when he was hit in the mask by a slapshot from the Philadelphia Flyers’ Shayne Gostisbehere during a game back on Feb. 20. Price finished the game, which the Canadiens lost 3-2 in overtime, but hasn’t played since.
TSN insider Pierre LeBrun noted that the Habs' decision was a big source of debate - as everything is in Montreal when it comes to hockey - but also explained why it is important for Price to get back in the action before the end of the season.
"I think it's important for Carey Price, for himself and for the organization, to come back and finish the season strong, so you carry those positive vibes and that frame of mind into next season, when it's time to turn the page and start fresh," said LeBrun.
"I think it's important to him, physically and mentally, to get back into the groove so it feels good at the end of the year."
LeBrun also adds that Price will kick off his new contract new season, and needs to face the right questions and not linger on his worst season up to date.
What do you think of the Habs' decision to play Price?