The Montreal Canadiens entered Monday in second place in the Atlantic Division, just three points back of the Boston Bruins in what has been a surprisingly strong start to the 2019-20 season.
If they are going to continue that strong play they are going to have to do so without two of their top forwards.
Coach Claude Julien announced on Monday morning that Jonathan Drouin and Paul Byron are both going to be out indefinitely after undergoing surgery this week.
Drouin will be having surgery on his wrist, while Byron is going to be sidelined due to knee surgery. According to Drouin’s agent, Allan Walsh, he’ll be out at least eight weeks.
Drouin’s injury happened in Friday’s game against the Washington Capitals, but Julien insisted it had nothing to do with the big hit from Alex Ovechkin. Julien said Drouin was cleared to return to the game, felt good, and suffered his injury (completely unrelated to the Ovechkin hit) after returning. He did not play in Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
It is not clear when Byron was injured but he played 16 minutes against the Capitals before also sitting out Saturday.
Editor’s note: Injuries shouldn’t derail your hockey needs. Click here for Montreal tickets
Both injuries will hurt, but Drouin is the really costly injury here because he has been off to a great start this season and is one of the team’s most productive forwards with seven goals and 15 total points in 19 games. Those early numbers would have put him on a 30-goal, 65-point pace over a full season, both of which would have shattered his career highs.
Byron, on the other hand, has had his share of struggles this season and has just a single goal and three assists. Even with those early struggles offensively he has been an outstanding depth player for the Canadiens since joining the team and has been a consistent 20-goal forward while also playing a strong two-way game.
Despite not having one of the league’s top individual scorers, the Canadiens have been one of the highest scoring teams in the league this season (their 3.50 goals per game is sixth best) thanks to a balanced attack. They are going to need to lean on that depth even more in the coming weeks with Drouin and Byron out of the lineup.
Related: Ovechkin with huge hit on Drouin
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.