MONTREAL - If the Canadiens are going to make the Stanley Cup final, it will be without their MVP goalie.
After a couple of days’speculation how bad Carey Price’s right leg was hurt in the Game 1 crease collision with New York Ranger Chris Kreider, Habs coach Michel Therrien solemnly delivered the news Monday morning that Price was out for the series.
“We’re really disappointed, obviously he’s our best player,” Therrien said.
Therrien then quickly took his frustrations out on Kreider, after saying a day earlier that his review of the incident led him to conclude the injury was accidental.
“It’s a reckless play and that’s the truth. It’s not the first time he’s going at goalies. You end up losing your best player ... but our group has faced a lot of adversity over the course of the season and we have the attitude to respond really well and I expect we’ll start tonight (Game 2 at the Bell Centre).”
Peter Budaj, who mopped up in Game 1’s eventual 7-2 loss, and AHL all-star Dustin Tokarski, are Therrien’s options for Monday night. But while saying he’s made his decision, the coach won’t make it public until game time.
In the second period of Game 1, Kreider used speed to get his 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame into the open. Knocked slightly off balance by pursuing Canadiens’ defencemen, he skidded into Price, with the brunt of contact, skates in the air, jamming Price’s knee into the post. Kreider had attempted to shoot while on his knees, which the Rangers have said was evidence there was no intent to run Price.
Therrien’s charges against Kreider dated back to high-speed crack-ups the forward had with goalies such as Craig Anderson and most recently in the last round against Pittsburgh Marc-Andre Fleury. Price tried to skate on Sunday but lasted just five minutes and was not on the ice Monday morning. Rangers’ coach Alain Vigneault, sensing the Canadiens were playing head games, had said he expected Price to play Game 2.
“We preach about being good teammates and we have a chance tonight to give Carey a chance to get back in the playoffs,” Therrien added. “We have to be at our best because we’re playing against a good hockey team.
“I know our team has character and that’s the No. 1 reason we’re here (beating Boston to get in the Eastern Conference final). We’re able to prove it in the past and we have that challenge for sure again. We hope that Carey is able to play again.”