The Montreal Canadiens have surprised many by advancing this far into the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs but there is almost no doubt that when the third round of those playoffs kickoff for them on Monday they will face their greatest challenge yet in the form of the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
Not only are the Canadiens coming into the series as heavy underdogs, but they will also be entering the series quite banged up with several question marks surrounding the status of a number of players on their roster. On Saturday the Canadiens provided some significant updates on many of those players, with perhaps the biggest news coming in regards to injured rookie Jake Evans.
Evans was of course injured during the Canadiens second round series against the Winnipeg Jets when he was the victim of a devastating hit from Jets forward Mark Scheifele, one that earned Scheifele a suspension that kept him out for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Since being injured Evans has been notably absent from the Canadiens regular activities but on Saturday he skated, once again without his teammates, for the second time since the injury and it now sounds like he is making significant progress.
According to Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme, Evans could be ready well before this third round has been concluded with the Habs bench boss indicating that it could be as early as just 3 to 4 days from now. Of course Ducharme stressed that Evans could need more time and added that the priority was to make sure that Evans was 100% healthy before injecting him back into the lineup.
Another sign that Evans is getting very close to a potential return to action was the fact that Ducharme indicated that he would be traveling with the team to Las Vegas, and it was on this front that the Canadiens coach also delivered some other good news. Joining Evans on the list of injured players making the journey to Vegas will also be veteran defenseman Jeff Petry, who suffered a hand injury after getting his fingers caught in a camera hole during that same series against the Jets, as well as veteran defenseman Jon Merrill.
All in all good news for a Canadiens team that will need all the help it can get against a very tough opponent in the Golden Knights.