It’s been almost exactly eight months since Carey Price last stepped on the ice for an NHL game, but the Montreal Canadiens will absolutely be ready for action come the World Cup of Hockey, according to Habs goalie coach Stephane Waite.
Waite told RDS.ca that he has spent three days practicing with Price, and that the 28-year-old netminder wasn’t showing any signs of injury. Price missed nearly 60 games in 2015-16 with an MCL sprain, which came only a week after he had returned from another, separate lower-body injury.
"I'm not a doctor, but all I know is that on the ice it was perfect,” Waite told RDS. “It is 100 percent restored. We are happy and our medical staff did a great job with him to bring him to the top. It is no longer a concern, he is ready to go.”
Waite said it wasn’t a light skate for Price, either. He called the training “intense” and said there was some time spent on the same movement that resulted in Price’s injury against the New York Rangers in November 2015. With Price confident in the movement, though, Waite told RDS that the Canadiens netminder can “move on” from the injury.
Before his injury, Price was off to an incredible start for the Canadiens. In 12 appearances, he posted a 10-2-0 record, two shutouts, 2.06 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
Though Canadian World Cup GM Doug Armstrong had said there was no reason to believe Price, who was named to the initial 16-player roster, would have to miss the tournament, that Waite said Price is good to go is reassurance that he’ll be ready to go when the tournament opens up. Even if Price is healthy, though, concerns will remain about how effective he is after such an extended break.
Price has dealt with lower-body injuries before, but this marks the first time he had missed such a significant period of time due to injury.
Prior to this injury, the most time had missed during a regular season came in 2008-09, when he was sidelined for 16 games with a mix of lower-body injuries and the flu. He also missed a combined 13 games in 2013-14 with two separate lower-body injuries, including a knee sprain that saw him miss the final five games of the playoffs. Maybe there’s no reason to worry, though.
Price came back after the playoff knee sprain and rattled off the best season by a goaltender in recent memory. He captured the William M. Jennings, Vezina and Hart Trophy, as well as the Ted Lindsay Award with an outstanding 2014-15 campaign. En route to his MVP season, Price posted a 44-16-6 record, nine shutouts, 1.96 GAA and .933 SP. A return like that would be the absolute best-case scenario for the Canadiens.
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