It's no secret that the Stanley Cup playoffs have taken their toll. Incredibly, the Montreal Canadiens could be without four of their top six defensemen tonight as they look to avoid elimination against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
-Andrei Markov has been out since Game 1, when he was hit by Matt Cooke and reportedly tore ligaments in his knee. As players often to during playoffs, Markov has attempted to skate the past two days, but has been ruled out tonight for Game 6. Try as he may, it appears he just can't stabalize it enough.
-Jaroslav Spacek has only played one playoff game this season (last series against Washington) with what's being called an "illness". Rumors are swirling this could be some sort of inner-ear problem that is affecting his balance, and has ended the career of players like goalie Jim Carey and defenseman Kevin Lowe. Spacek says he is progressing, took the morning skate today and coach Jacques Martin said he will be a game time decision.
-Paul Mara has missed the entire playoffs after having shoulder surgery. He's skated the past two days, but reports say he is still a way's away from returning to the lineup and isn't a possibility for Game 6 tonight.
-Hal Gill is the biggest question. Gill got stepped on by Chris Kunitz and then his pain really started: he had to stay over-night in Pittsburgh on Saturday and couldn't travel with his team. With the team jet already back in Montreal, the team decided to send Gill on commericial flights back. Bad move. Gill got diverted to Philadelphia, endured some problems and got caught up for a while.
He didn't participate in full practice today and his usual spot with partner Josh Gorges was taken by rooking P.K. Subban. Martin has said Gill is officially a game-time decision, and will take pre-game warmups before a decsion is made to whether or not he's capable of playing.
That aside, Montreal's defense is in fine shape.
Sarcasm aside, we'll see what this means for the Penguins. Obviously no Gill would mean more room for Sidney Crosby to operate and thin out an already defensive corps for Evgeni Malkin to see even lesser defenders. Even though all signs are pointing to no Gill, something inside tells me the big guy will be in the lineup. Call it a feeling, but he's planning on taking warmups and after that point it's tough to imagine a competitor sitting unless his leg physically doesn't allow him to be able to play.