Carey Price’s last minute of NHL action came more than 270 days ago — nearly nine months — and he can’t wait for the World Cup to begin so he can finally put the MCL sprain that claimed nearly his entire 2015-16 campaign in the past.
In an interview with InGoal Magazine’s Kevin Woodley, Price admitted that he can’t help but think about the injury from time to time, but not because it’s impacting his ability to move about the crease. In fact, Price said he feels like his “old self on the ice,” but that the injury keeping him on the shelf for so long has crept into his mind.
“I don’t want to say I feel anxious but I just want to get started,” Price told Woodley. “I feel like the build-up has been six months of waiting for that first game and I still haven’t gotten there. I’ve been working towards a goal I haven’t gotten to yet.”
Price’s first game action won’t have to wait long, either. While the injury may put him merely in the running for the starting job in Canada’s crease at the World Cup instead of making him the lock to start, Price will almost assuredly see game action early in the tournament. There’s a good chance Price will see the ice even before the tournament begins, too, with Canada having exhibition games Sept. 8 and Sept. 10 against USA, as well as a final tune-up game Sept. 14 against Russia.
“Being able to get right back into it a little earlier is going to be a lot of fun,” Price told Woodley. “It was obviously a long rehab – six months long – so I am looking forward to getting the first few games in, start getting into a rhythm again, and getting back into my routine of just playing games and just looking forward to getting past it.”
Price also told Woodley that he wouldn’t mind seeing his number of starts drop this coming campaign. That would have been the case even before Price missed nearly an entire year to injury, according to Canadiens goaltending coach Stephane Waite, but Price told Woodley that starting “even five fewer games would help.” Price is worried about staying fresh for the post-season — a place the Canadiens failed to get this past season without their star goaltender.
The hope for Price, the Canadiens and, to a lesser extent, the Canadian World Cup team is that the 29-year-old all-world goaltender hasn’t missed a beat during the long rehab period. It may be unrealistic to assume he’ll return in top form, but so long as Price is even a semblance of his former self during his first few outings, it’ll be a promising sign.
Before he fell injured this past season, Price was on pace for another remarkable campaign. Through 12 games, he had a 10-2-0 record, two shutouts, 2.06 goals-against average and .934 save percentage — all this after an incredibly 2014-15 season that saw him post career-best numbers and take home the Vezina Trophy, Jennings Trophy, Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.