Forget the final score.
The one thing that should concern Habs‘ fans the most, following the team’s 8-3 setback to the Boston Bruins in Halifax in last night’s pre-season opener, is the fact that defenceman Roman Hamrlik finished the game on the sidelines.
Hamrlik left the contest in the second period and will likely sit out tonight’s contest in Roberval against the Buffalo Sabres. Hamrlik isn’t the only member of the Canadiens nursing a groin injury in these early days of training camp/pre-season. Georges Laraque tweaked his groin in Pierrefonds over the weekend and didn’t make the trip for the team’s opening three games on the road. Officially, Patrice Brisbois was a scratch for last night’s game against the Bruins. Unofficially, he, too, is out with a groin injury. And then there’s the Captain, Saku Koivu, who was also left behind for these opening three pre-season games, as a result of a foot injury suffered while training in Finland several weeks ago.
These are the concerns that head coach Guy Carbonneau must deal with as he looks at getting his team through nine pre-season games, in one piece. Yes, he needs to assess the talent he has on this club, and put the pieces of this puzzle together. But make no mistake about it: The Coach’s roster is set, certainly for the top three forward lines and, most likely, along the blueline. The battle is for a job that might be open on the fourth line. The goaltending is set. All the coach needs to do is get his players through the pre-season so that they’re ready to answer the regular-season bell in healthy fashion, not to mention put the finishing touches on his line combinations.
Last night’s final score? Sure, it was disappointing for Canadiens’ fans, especially the 8,000 who jammed the Halifax Metro Centre looking for a good showing, and a good show.
What does it ultimately mean?
Nothing. Except maybe to Roman Hamrlik.