The Montreal Canadiens are in the midst of a cold spell that's seen the club drop four consecutive games and seven of nine dating back to Jan. 27. And after an ugly loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night, the Habs have fallen to 22-27-8 and a full 13 points back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Also discouraging in hockey's most storied city is the health of standout rookie defenseman Jayden Struble, who was injured late in the third period of the loss.

Struble has been one of the best stories on the team this season, quickly moving from the American Hockey League's Laval Rocket to the big league club and getting into 39 games with the Canadiens in 2023-24.

A former second-round pick (No. 46 overall) in the 2019 NHL Draft, Struble has been solid at both ends of the rink this year, earning a spot on the second pairing and significant minutes right off the bat. He's chipped in three goals and seven points, as well as an impressive plus-one rating.

The hope in Quebec is that Thursday wasn't Struble's final game of this campaign, but the injury did not look good at all.

Canadiens lose game, Jayden Struble

“A non-contact injury leaving Struble unable to put any weight on his left leg would be a terrible interruption to one of the best stories of this Canadiens season,” wrote Sportsnet's Eric Engels late on Thursday.

“The former second-round pick made his professional debut with the AHL’s Laval Rocket before surprisingly leaping up to the NHL and quickly leapfrogging some of the young defencemen in the Canadiens’ pecking order. This was his 39th game of solid hockey in the world’s best league and now both he and the Canadiens have to hope it wasn’t his last of the season.

“After all, Struble’s sudden development had somewhat changed the complexion of the team’s blue line—expanding the NHL depth chart and opening up different possibilities for both the immediate and distant future—and the last thing he and the Canadiens would want is for that process to be stunted.”

It's another brutal blow for a roster that has been decimated by injuries this season. Besides losing Kirby Dach to a campaign-ending ailment — a devastating blow — both Alex Newhook and Arber Xhekaj have missed long stretches of the year.

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That's been the difference in another losing season in Montreal.

“The Canadiens’ record in the second half of back-to-back games fell to an NHL-worst 1-10, which is about as repugnant as it gets,” continued Engels.

“Unless you consider how lopsided some of those losses have been. Thursday marked the eighth time the Canadiens have lost by at least three goals in the second half of a back-to-back, and that’s a tough phenomenon to explain for this young team.”

Obviously, a very tough stretch for a Canadiens team that is now firmly in miracle territory when it comes to securing a playoff spot.