Jake Evans is, without doubt, a hard hockey player. He trains hard, plays hard, and never gives up until he absolutely has to. For many, he is the ideal example of the kind of grit and hardness that makes a modern NHL player worth watching. However, the Montreal Canadiens forward might be known for his punishing style of play but even he must have surely felt the impact of his injury.
Up against the Winnipeg Jets on the opening night of their Second Round post-season match-up, Evans was injured. With just 57s remaining on the clock, Evans was caught in a challenge by Mark Scheifele after putting the puck into an empty net. The damage was pretty severe, and Scheifele was checked for a major penalty and a game misconduct charge.
Speaking after the incident, the Winnipeg captain, Blake Wheeler, said: “Just hope he’s OK…I mean, that’s it. Really, that’s all. That’s the concern. It’s never good to see a guy on the ice for that amount of time and the stretcher out is scary. So we’re just hoping that he’s OK.”
In the end, the Canadiens rode out 5-3 winners to take a Game 1 victory over a hard-fought opponent. They came through a punishing tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, and will head off to Winnipeg for the next match of their best of 7 game series with the Jets.
It is unlikely, though, that Evans will be involved with the team for this particular match. He is expected to sit this one out. The team will miss him, with his improving form a major landmark of a Canadiens team that is really beginning to build some momentum as they move towards the Stanley Cup Finals.
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What happens next?
For now, it looks like Evans will simply be assessed and checked over. Montreal’s coach, Dominique Ducharme, said: “He’s still here, he’s being evaluated. He’s doing better, but before I came here he was still being evaluated.”
His teammates were quick to speak up for the quality of Evans, too. One player who was especially keen to see his teammate return to the ice was forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who said: “Jake is a great guy. He’s a super funny guy who keeps the energy up in the room. I think he’s one of those guys when you want to win the game you put him out there, even when you want to get a goal or make sure the other team’s not scoring, you know, he’s just one of the guys you need.”
The series is likely to see Evans out for at least the second game, with no determination yet on how bad the injury is going to be. Given Evans was down for as long as six minutes after the incident took place, fans were pleased to see he was able to bump fists with teammates as he made his way off the ice on a stretcher.