Game 2 of the Montreal Canadiens-New York Rangers series is tonight, and the Habs are looking to avoid heading to NYC down two games.
That will be significantly harder to accomplish now that coach Michel Therrien has confirmed that goaltender Carey Price is out for the rest of the series.
"It's too bad. We have lost our best player," Therrien said Monday morning after practice. He said Price being out for the series doesn't mean he'll be out for the season, though.
Therrien said Price resting now may end up being to their advantage if they make it to the Stanley Cup final. For now, however, "Obviously he's not capable to play."
Kreider rammed Price
After an optional practice on Sunday, the Habs’ Brandon Prust commented on the Game 1 manoeuvre that ultimately sent goaltender Carey Price to the bench: Chris Kreider ramming into Price, skates up, at the top of the second period.
“He did the same thing against (the Penguins’) Fleury in the last series so I mean he’s not doing anything to avoid him. so whether it’s not totally intentional, he doesn’t do anything to lighten it up a bit,” Prust said.
Coach Therrien also spoke out against Kreider's move.
In the third period of Saturday’s game, Prust showed his displeasure in retaliation by slashing Kreider and taking a minor penalty. He also took an unsportsmanlike conduct minor and 10-minute misconduct penalty.
The big question is how big of a loss would it be for the Habs to play without Price.
“He’s been the most important piece to this team and that’s pretty much been all year. He’s the backbone of this team, but hopefully he’s ready to go and we’ll rally around whoever,” Prust said on Sunday before the news came that Price was out for the series.
Budaj says he's ready
Backup goalie Peter Budaj skated with the Habs on Sunday and said he’s ready to take over while Price heals — even if his playoff statistics don’t inspire confidence.
Despite that, you couldn’t ask for a more gracious, competitive, hard-working backup goalie.
On Price, Budaj said, “He’s huge. He’s our best player. He works hard, he’s a competitor, he’s a leader. So I’m sure we wouldn’t be here without him, and hopefully he feels good and he’s ready to go, and if not I’m ready.”
“I did everything I could to prepare myself mentally, physically throughout this time that I haven’t played,” Budaj continued.
But when he stepped in for Price during the third period of Game 1, he was beaten on the first shot and went on to allow three goals on eight shots.
Another scenario that could happen is that the young Dustin Tokarski from the Habs' AHL affiliate the Hamilton Bulldogs will stand in for Price. He skated at Monday's practice.
Lots of speculation at Habs skate that Dustin Tokarski starts tonight due to big game experience in AHL, World Juniors and his net position.— Andie Bennett (@AndieCBC) May 19, 2014
Max Pacioretty, however, looked at the bright side of things on Sunday.
“I think it’s easy to bounce back from a loss like that than a heartbreaker. […] We’re still a confident group and we’ve got to put that one behind us,” he said.
And some good news: Alex Galchenyuk — who has been sidelined for more than a month with a knee injury — has been cleared for contact.
Game 2 at the Montreal Bell Centre starts at 8 p.m. ET. Stream it live on CBC.ca/sports.
The CBC Montreal Sports team has you covered for the Montreal Canadiens' 2014 Stanley Cup playoff run. Andie Bennett and Doug Gelevan are with Habs from the first round all the way to the victory parade.
Check out cbc.ca/montreal every morning for highlights, interviews from the locker room and the latest reports from Doug and Andie in Montreal and on the road.