The NHL cancelled games through Jan. 14 on Thursday, bringing the total number wiped out by the lockout to 625.
If an agreement isn’t reached before that date, it’s likely the entire season will be cancelled since commissioner Gary Bettman has stated that a 48-game season would be the minimum acceptable with the playoffs wrapping up by the end of June.
The league and NHL Players’ Association haven’t met since last week.
If you’re suffering Canadiens withdrawal, The Gazette has the answer with the ultimate fantasy experience as beat writer Pat Hickey and Gazette techie Eric Tobon employ EA Sports NHL 13 to produce The Season That Isn’t. Here’s how things might have looked in Thursday night’s game between the Canadiens and Capitals in Washington:
WASHINGTON – Defenceman Tom Poti was the unlikely offensive hero as the Washington Capitals edged the Canadiens 1-0 Thursday night at the Verizon Center.
Poti, a stay-at-home defenceman, beat Carey Price with a slapshot from the point at 13:09 of the third period. He credited former Canadien Roman Hamrlik with a major contribution on the goal.
“Hammer is more of a threat and I think everybody’s attention was on him at the point,” Poti said. “He started to shoot, but someone got in his way. He slid the puck over to me and I one-timed before (Carey) Price could react.”
Price and Michal Neuvirth turned in solid performances with each goaltender producing big saves and stopping 26 shots.
“You could feel the pressure build as the game went on,” Price said. “When you get that late in the game and nobody has scored, you don’t want to make a mistake. I don’t think I could have done anything different on the goal. I saw the puck go across and I moved, but he got off a perfect shot.”
Said Max Pacioretty: “We had some chances on a power play in the third period, but Neuvirth came up with a couple of great saves. It was one of those nights when you knew that one goal was going to do it because the goaltenders were on top of their game. (Alex) Ovechkin had Carey down at one point and somehow he managed to get his hand up to stop the puck. I felt sorry that we couldn’t get a goal because he didn’t deserve to lose tonight.”
The Canadiens continued to play without centre David Desharnais and defenceman P.K. Subban. Desharnais, who is nursing an abdominal strain, is with the team and has been skating on his own, but coach Michel Therrien said he probably won’t play Saturday night in Toronto.
“He’s getting better, but we want to give him a little extra time,” Therrien said.
As for Subban, he’s at least three weeks away. He has a hip pointer and the only cure is rest.
The Toronto game wraps up the first half of the Canadiens’ annual holiday road trip. After a few days off for Christmas, the Canadiens are in Tampa on Dec. 27, Florida on Dec. 28 and wrap things up in Carolina on New Year’s Eve.