Price’s ‘minor’ injury could have major implications
What started out as a “minor” lower-body injury to goalie Carey Price is turning into a bit of a soap opera and it’s a show Canadiens fans have seen before.
Two seasons ago, Price went down with a “lower-body injury” on Nov. 25 and the Canadiens said they expected him to miss at least two weeks. Price ended up missing the rest of the season with what was much later confirmed as a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.
On Tuesday, the Canadiens announced Price would be taking a couple of days off the ice while recovering from a “minor” lowerbody injury suffered during the pregame warm-up on Nov. 2 in Minnesota. Price played in the game that night against the Wild, allowing five goals on 26 shots in a 6-3 loss with the final goal into an empty net.
Price, who was originally listed as day-to-day, said the injury wasn’t the result of being hit by a shot, which suggests he pulled or stretched some part of his lower body. Price said it has nothing to do with his right knee. Before Tuesday, Price had been working out on the ice in full equipment with goalie coach Stéphane Waite, but he’s being shut down for at least two days. The Canadiens made Price available to the media Tuesday in Brossard and the goalie insisted his injury is still minor and that he won’t be out much longer.
But how long? Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin met with the media after the team’s morning skate and said he won’t have any idea how long Price will be out until he starts practising with the team again, but added “it won’t be long.”
Just to be safe — and with regular backup Al Montoya out indefinitely because of a concussion — Bergevin claimed veteran goalie Antti Niemi on waivers from the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Rookie Charlie Lindgren, who had a 3-1 record in his first four games replacing Price, was back in goal Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets with Zach Fucale — who has no NHL experience — as his backup. Price said Lindgren’s solid play has allowed him not to rush the recovery from his injury and insisted the fact he won’t be on the ice for a couple of days didn’t mean he has suffered a setback in his recovery.
“No, not at all,” Price said. “It’s just making sure that it’s properly taken care of. I know that it’s not going to be a long-term process like it was last time.
“It just wasn’t getting better,” he added.
“It was getting stagnant, so I just decided to give it a rest for a couple of days and reassess it in a couple of days.”
Price also said if the game against the Blue Jackets had been a playoff match, he “absolutely” could have played, but you really have to wonder about that. Price did not look very mobile when he worked out with Waite before the Canadiens practice on Monday.
In hindsight, Price shouldn’t have played the game in Minnesota after getting injured during the warm-up. Price said he didn’t think it was anything serious until he woke up the next morning, and Bergevin said that was when he first learned about the injury.
Bergevin has 84 million reasons to be worried about his No. 1 goalie after signing Price to an eight-year, US$84-million contract extension that kicks in next season. Price, 30, has a history of lower-body injuries. He was knocked out of the Eastern Conference final in 2014 with an injury to his right knee after getting run over by the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider and before his season-ending knee injury two years ago Price had already missed nine games that season with another lower-body injury.
“Injuries are part of the game,” Bergevin said when asked if he is concerned about Price’s new contract. “Players do get hurt and I’m sure it’s not the last time he’s going to get hurt. But that just comes from playing hockey.”
At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Price is a large goalie, which means there’s a lot of impact each time he drops to his knees and also a lot of weight to push side to side with his legs in the crease. When asked if the nature of his position has taken a toll on his body, Price said: “Yeah, sure, man. It’s not an easy sport.”
And things don’t get easier for any athlete as they get older.
When Bergevin was asked if the nature of Price’s position has become too much for the goalie’s body to handle, the GM had a one-word answer: “No.”
Price was asked if he had any words to calm the fears of Canadiens fans.
“I don’t know if there’s anything that I can say,” he said. “Just that I’ll be back soon. That’s the only thing I can say, really.”
It remains to be seen how long this soap opera lasts.