Good news has been hard to find for Montreal Canadiens fans, but there was a promising sight on the ice Friday as goaltender Carey Price, sidelined since Nov. 27 with a lower-body injury, donned a glove and blocker and worked on his lateral movement in the goal crease during a skating session.
According to NHL.com’s Arpon Basu, who also provided video of Price’s movement on ice, the 2014-15 Vezina Trophy winning netminder spent roughly an hour on ice and only part of his ice time was dedicated to getting back in the crease. Basu reported that Price also spent time working on handling the puck, including work clearing pucks from behind the net, while wearing his blocker and glove and using his goal stick.
The goalie in a crease. pic.twitter.com/XaLw54Jkib
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) February 5, 2016
Basu reported it’s the first time Price had skated with any goalie equipment since taking the ice Jan. 11, but added that Price took part in shooting and skating drills in players equipment, as well.
While it may not seem like much, it’s quite the upgrade following reports Thursday that Price had struggled during his skating session. During an on-ice session Thursday, Price was seen smashing a stick in frustration and was reportedly laboring as he moved about the ice. Price’s apparent stiffness in his skating prompted some to wonder whether or not the Canadiens would be without Price for the rest of the season.
Without Price over the past 29 games, the Canadiens have been the worst team in the league. Since Nov. 27, Montreal has gone 7-20-2 and have fallen from first place in the Atlantic Division to six points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot and a mere seven points up on the league-worst Columbus Blue Jackets. Goaltending has been Montreal’s biggest issue over that time, too. Though Price has missed all but 12 games this season, his 10 wins are only three less than backup Mike Condon, who has played 35 games.
Even though the sight of Price back in some goalie equipment will likely bring excitement to a fanbase that needs anything to cheer about right now, Canadiens fans should likely temper their expectations. That he’s not in full equipment yet doesn’t bode well for him returning to game action anytime soon, and it likely means Price won’t meet the three-to-four-week timeline GM Marc Bergevin gave a week before the all-star break. That's supported by comments made by Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, who told TSN's John Lu that Price isn't yet into the next stage of his rehab. Therrien did not give an updated timeline.
Before Price fell injured, he was putting up Vezina quality numbers. In 12 games, he was 10-2-0 with two shutouts, a 2.06 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. If he maintained that pace and had been voted the league’s best goaltender, Price would have been the first netminder to win the award in back-to-back seasons since Martin Brodeur won it in 2006-07 and 2007-08.