The Montreal Canadiens have already been without netminder Carey Price for more than one-third of the season, and after tweaking a prior injury, Price is going to be out much longer.
The Canadiens announced Monday morning that Price will be out for a minimum of six weeks, and while the injury will take a significant amount of time to heal, no surgery will be required. Over the weekend, Price met with team doctors and it was expected there would be an update early this week, but few would have expected Price, who was originally said to be out at least one week, would be sidelined for close to two months.
An exact ailment still hasn’t been announced by Montreal, but Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday that Price, 28, injured himself in the warmup before the Canadiens’ Oct. 29 contest against the Edmonton Oilers. The Canadiens were out for the pre-game skate when Price stepped on a puck. That seemingly innocuous moment has led to Price watching from the sidelines for 11 of Montreal’s past 14 outings, and will likely keep him sidelined until the second half of the season.
With the announcement Price will be on the shelf for a minimum of six weeks, Price will likely be out for at least 16 games, but could miss more, including the Winter Classic against the Boston Bruins on Jan. 1. By the time Price returns, the Canadiens will likely be in the back half of their schedule.
There was certainly cause for concern that Price’s current ailment would put him on the shelf for a similar time period to the prior nine-game absence he had when the injury first occurred. At the time of his injury, the early diagnosis was the Price would miss “at least” one week. Price remained on the injured list for the next three weeks. On Nov. 19, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said it was “too early to say” when Price would be healthy enough to play, only for Price to suit up the next night against the New York Islanders.
Some have questioned whether or not Price returned too early from the ailment, which resulted in him tweaking it and causing another stint on the injured reserve. However, Price was given medical clearance to play and the Canadiens stated they wouldn’t have let him play were there any reason to hold him out of action. In addition, Mike Condon, Price’s backup, had been solid as a replacement and Dustin Tokarski is waiting in the wings as a capable third-string netminder.
Thankfully for the Canadiens, they have built a big enough lead atop the Atlantic Division that Price’s absence won’t hurt quite as much as it would have if they were competing for a wild-card spot early in the campaign. Montreal currently sits 10 points ahead of the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic, though Ottawa has two games in hand.
When healthy, Price has continued to be one of the best goaltenders in the world. Of the 34 goaltenders to play at least 500 minutes at 5-on-5, Price is eighth with a .939 SP. Even though he has played only 12 games this season, Price is in the top 10 for SP, goals-against average, wins and shutouts.