Montreal, QC, Canada (4E Sports) – Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price’s status for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers is uncertain after skipping the team’s optional practice Sunday.
Price was pulled during Saturday’s embarrassing 7-2 loss after surrendering four goals on 20 shots in two periods of play.
The netminder also appeared shaken up after a collision with Rangers winger Chris Kreider but Canadiens coach Michel Therrien insisted that Price was not taken out for injury.
After Sunday’s practice, Therrien would not commit to whether Price would be available to play Monday in Game 2. “We’ll see tomorrow. I can’t tell you that right now,” he said.
Therrien and some of his players also expressed their concern with the hit and Kreider’s intent.
“Let’s put it this way, he didn’t put much effort to avoid the contact,” Therrien said of Kreider.
Brandon Prust, who played for the Rangers from 2009 to 2012, said he felt that the 23-year-old Kreider didn’t do enough to pull up or minimize the impact when he bowled over Price on a breakaway.
“Whether it’s on purpose or accidental, he ran him pretty hard,” Prust said. “Everybody thinks it was accidental, but we call it accidentally on purpose.”
Prust, who was slapped with both a roughing and unsportsmanlike minor and a 10-minute misconduct in the third period, said this isn’t the first time they’ve noticed that sort of play from Kreider.
He pointed out a similar play, when Kreider crashed into Marc-Andre Fleury in the Rangers’ second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6.
“He did nothing to really avoid him. We’re in the NHL. We know how to fall, how to not put our skates first when we fall. He did the same thing against Fleury in the last series,” Prust said. “I mean he’s not doing anything to avoid him. It’s not totally intentional, but he doesn’t do anything to lighten it up a bit.”
Kreider told reporters after Saturday’s game that he was not trying to “run” Price, and that he lost his balance while trying to wrangle a bouncing puck.
If Price is unable to play, backup netminder Peter Budaj will be between the pipes for the Canadiens as they attempt to tie the series before it shifts back to New York for Games 3 and 4 next week.
Budaj said he was not sure whether his name will be called on Monday but that he is prepared to play if needed.