Carey Price’s long-awaited return to the Montreal Canadiens’ lineup was supposed to come in the season opener Thursday. And then it was supposed to come Saturday against the Ottawa Senators. But now it appears no one, not even the Canadiens, know when Price will be ready to go.
Price, 29, was ruled out of the opening game of the season due to the flu, and the Canadiens announced Thursday evening that Price will again be out of the lineup as the team heads to Ottawa to take on the Senators. As it turns out, though, Price could be out much longer than anyone expected. The Canadiens announced Friday afternoon that Price is dealing with what is being called a "severe case of flu," and he is currently on antibiotics resting at his home in Montreal and being evaluated daily by Montreal's Dr. David Mulder.
There's no telling what the situation means for Price, though it might be a safe bet to assume he won't be playing by the time Montreal's home opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins rolls around on Tuesday. A more realistic date for recovery could be the middle of next week, just as the Canadiens prepare for a date with the Arizona Coyotes, but even that sounds like pushing it given the most recent update. Maybe that means next Saturday's contest, the Canadiens' first meeting of the season with the rival Boston Bruins, is a realistic target. Again, though, there’s no telling exactly when Price will be ready.
It’s disappointing for Montreal, no doubt, that Price isn’t yet healthy enough to return to the lineup, and having their star netminder deal with a "severe" case of anything is far from ideal. As long as Price can get healthy in the coming weeks, though, it shouldn’t be a devastating loss this early in the campaign.
That’s even more true given the way Al Montoya played in his Canadiens’ debut. Montoya, one of the better backups in the league, was acquired in the off-season for such a situation as this. With Price on the shelf, the Canadiens know they need stellar goaltending, something they had difficulty getting from youngster Mike Condon beyond the midway point of the past season.
Montoya turned aside all but one of the 31 shots he faced in his Montreal debut, and the Canadiens skated to a convincing 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
Despite Montoya’s performance, though, Price will absolutely take over the net once he returns from the flu, whenever that might be. Arguably the best goaltender in the world right now, Price’s last full season saw him capture MVP and Vezina Trophy honors, and he’s less than a month removed from capturing the World Cup title for Team Canada on the back of another outstanding international performance.
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