Canadiens goalie Carey Price has an overall save percentage of .877 and hasn’t looked like himself all season. He hasn’t played at all since Nov. 2, when he gave up five goals against Minnesota in a 6-3 loss. The team initially ruled Price as day-to-day with a “lower body injury,” but now it’s a little more confusing. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said that he didn’t have any idea how long Price could be out until he started practicing again, but also added, somehow, that “it won’t be long.”
Price was asked if he had any words to calm the fears of Canadiens fans.
“I don’t know if there’s anything that I can say,” he said. “Just that I’ll be back soon. That’s the only thing I can say, really.”
Not long ago, Price appeared to be the leader of a new generation of Montreal success. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2014-15 by posting a 1.96 goals against average while the Habs won their division. Despite a truncated, two-round postseason run, the Canadiens still looked like a serious contender.
A seemingly minor injury to Price in the 2015-16 season derailed a chance to build on that success. After missing a stretch of nine games early in the season, the Canadiens announced that November that Price would be out for six weeks with a knee injury. Those six weeks turned into the entire rest of the season, as Price dealt with an MCL sprain while his team missed the playoffs. Price rallied in 2016-17 to make 62 starts, not quite returning to his old form but playing well enough that the Habs won their division again. However, they lost their first playoff series in six games to the New York Rangers.
The Canadiens are currently 8-9-2, and Price’s non-specific injuries could turn him into an easy scapegoat if the team continues to hover around .500. The team has him under contract for $84 million until 2026, and with that kind of investment, he won’t get much sympathy. The Gazette even has a sarcastic prediction generator for when Price will be back. It includes pronouncements like “Carey Price, who is dealing with a theoretically reallocated ego, will be back in 397 days,” and “Carey Price, who is dealing with a chronically tender pinkie, will be back in 466 days.”
It’s funny, but it also shows that Montreal’s impatience will spare no player, not even its best goalie since Patrick Roy. Price could very well be back soon, and the Canadiens have a lot of season ahead of them. But even if his injury isn’t major, the jokey digs and the cloud of uncertainty have got to put a strain on him. Price, a great goalie when healthy, is currently in an atmosphere with a perpetually anxious fanbase, a front office known for creating weird controversies, hungry reporters, and a frustrating injury, all while his team underperforms. That has to suck.