Good news for the Montreal Canadiens today, as the team activated goaltender Carey Price from injured reserve. Price practiced with the team and is at least healthy enough to serve as backup when the Canadiens take on the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow night. Michael McNiven has been sent back to the AHL.
Price admitted to Stu Cowen of the Montreal Gazette that he had been playing with his lower-body injury for about seven weeks, and that it wouldn’t have stopped him from getting on the ice if it were playoff time. That’s a familiar story from a goaltender that has repeatedly played through injury, and one that might frighten Canadiens fans who remember when he played an entire game and set himself back in 2017. Still, this injury seems minor—and conspicuously timed with the birth of his second child—and hopefully will not affect the goaltender moving forward.
The Canadiens find themselves just one point behind the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division, a position very few expected them to hold this late into the season. With surprising performances from players like Max Domi and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the team has found a level of competition that should put them in the playoff race right down to the wire. Price is perhaps the biggest key to whether they actually qualify or not, as he has shown the ability to be a difference-maker in the past.
That past performance is what the team hopes returns before long, as the 31-year old goaltender is only in the first year of an eight-year, $84MM deal. He has just a .904 save percentage this season, a number that didn’t look any better seven weeks ago when the injury supposedly happened. In fact December was the best month of his season so far, with an 8-3-0 record and .916 save percentage. Even that level isn’t what’s expected of him though, meaning he’ll have to continue to improve as the season moves along.