Something is happening in Montreal.
Goaltender Carey Price is expected to return to practice in a “few days,” according to head coach Claude Julien.
For those scoring at home, Price hasn’t appeared or practiced with the Habs since last Thursday. He has been contending with a “minor lower body injury,” but his extended absence has been making some in the sports world question how “minor” this injury actually is.
“It has zero to do with the injury he had two years ago,” said Julien on Tuesday. “It’s a minor injury and we expect him to be back on the ice in a few days.”
Montreal fans remember the injury that was two years ago, of course, with Price limited to a dozen appearances in 2015-2016 after suffering ligament damage to his knee. The Canadiens missed the playoffs that season.
Things are a little different this season, however, and it’s hard to make the case that missing Price is the detriment it once was.
The 30-year-old is 3-7-1 this season, with a .877 save percentage and a 3.77 goals against average. If he’s been playing through an injury, minor or not, that could account for such abysmal totals.
On Friday, it was announced that Price would miss Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. The Habs started Al Montoya and won in overtime.
Price missed Sunday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks and the Canadiens dressed AHL call-up Charlie Lindgren. He pulled off a shutout and earned a start Tuesday against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Now, we can speculate and postulate all we want at this point and time, but it does seem like something is going on here. The injury to price may be considered minor from a technical standpoint, but what it’s revealed about the club is decidedly not insignificant.
And what it’s revealed about Price, who is off to one of his worst starts ever, is also worth exploring.
In his last game, which was against Minnesota, he allowed five goals on 26 shots. That was the seventh time in his last 10 starts that he allowed four or more goals against. Breaking things down technically, he looks slow in the crease when it comes to tracking rebounds and he’s been struggling to find pucks.
Whether his play is related to a lingering injury – not the dreaded knee injury from 2015-2016, mind you – or some other deep-seated issue remains to be seen, but something has to give. With Price in the pine for what looks like a few more days at least, it’s time for the Habs to sort this thing out before another season is lost.