The “minor” lower-body injury Carey Price suffered more than two weeks ago is starting to fail the smell test.
Last Tuesday morning, the Canadiens announced Price would take two days off the ice because his injury suffered Nov. 2 in Minnesota wasn’t getting any better through on-ice workouts with goalie coach Stéphane Waite. Nothing to worry about was the message, and Price insisted that if the game that night against the Columbus Blue Jackets was a playoff game, he “absolutely” could have played.
“They don’t have to be concerned,” Price said about Canadiens fans. “It’s just taking a little bit longer than expected just because of the nature of my position. I just want to make sure that I’m 100 per cent and can do my job to the best of my ability when I come back. I’m just going to make sure I take my time with it, and it won’t be very long.”
Price didn’t skate Tuesday and Wednesday, as was planned. He also didn’t skate Thursday, Friday or Saturday, and the Canadiens had a day off Sunday following a 6-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night at the Bell Centre. A Canadiens official said after the game that Price is still around the team and continuing with his off-ice workouts.
When coach Claude Julien was asked if there was any update on Price’s condition following Saturday’s morning skate in Brossard, he had a stern, one-word answer: “No.”
The Canadiens have not said exactly what the injury is to Price, and the goalie insisted it has nothing to do with the right knee injury that ended his season in late November two years ago. It’s certainly starting to look like this latest injury is not “minor.”
Or could it be something else? Could the Canadiens be looking to trade the 30-year-old goaltender before his new eight-year, US$84-million contract kicks in next season?
The problem with not coming clean on injuries is that it can lead to all kinds of speculation, just like it did two years ago when the Canadiens didn’t announce exactly what Price’s injury was until near the end of the season.
The Canadiens are a badly broken hockey team following back-to-back embarrassing losses on home ice to Arizona — the worst team in the NHL — and Toronto in front of a national TV audience on Hockey Night in Canada with “Go Leafs Go!” chants filling the Bell Centre.
After Saturday’s game, Craig Button, TSN director of scouting, said on SportsCentre that the Canadiens are a “poorly constructed” team that is flawed in many areas, trying to bang square pegs into round holes and that they are “going nowhere fast.” Button said Jonathan Drouin, who won only seven of 21 faceoffs against the Leafs, is not a centre, “but is trying hard.” Drouin has 3-10-13 totals this season and is minus-7, while winning only 41.4 per cent of his faceoffs, and has one goal in his last 14 games.
Defenceman Mikhail Sergachev, traded to Tampa Bay this summer in exchange for Drouin, has 5-9-14 totals and is plus-8 with the Lightning. Button said one of the problems with the Canadiens is that they are playing fifth and sixth defencemen in the No. 3 and No. 4 slots. Button added that the Canadiens are small up front and slow on the back end.
“They are what they are,” Button said about the Canadiens.
And that’s not very good with an 8-11-2 record. Following Saturday’s loss to the Leafs, the Canadiens ranked 30th in the NHL in offence, 29th in defence, 27th on the power play, 28th in penalty killing and 21st in faceoffs.
There is a lot wrong with this team, and it won’t be easy to fix.