MONTREAL -- In a stunning development Monday morning, the Montreal Canadiens announced that star goaltender Carey Price will miss the remainder of the team’s Eastern Conference finals series against the New York Rangers. The Habs already trail 1-0 after getting bludgeoned by the Blueshirts in a 7-2 rout in Game 1 on Saturday. This news certainly does not bolster the team’s postseason hopes. While the Rangers hope to keep rolling at Bell Centre, they are not yet sure which goaltender they will see between the pipes for Montreal when the puck drops on Game 2 Monday evening.
Decisions, decisions: Habs coach Michel Therrien said he has already made up his mind on a starter for Game 2, but declined to reveal that choice publicly when he addressed reporters in his pregame press briefing. The Habs have two different choices in net: backup netminder Peter Budaj, who relieved Price in Game 1 during the third period and gave up three goals on five shots, or 24-year-old Dustin Tokarski. The Habs could make the bold choice of going with Tokarski, who played 41 games this season for Montreal’s AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Kreider effect: Naturally, the Canadiens are not happy with Rangers forward Chris Kreider, whose collision with Price during Game 1 appeared to leave Price with a lower-body injury. Therrien called the play “reckless,” Price’s teammates described Kreider’s intent as “accidentally on purpose,” so there may very well be some bad blood directed toward the 23-year-old winger Monday night. In the midst of the fallout, Kreider seemed unperturbed by the controversy. Asked if he had any regrets on the play he responded defiantly: “Looking back on it and I think I wish I would’ve put it into the net.”
Retaliation factor: Though Montreal enforcer Brandon Prust insisted on Sunday that the Habs would not run goaltender Henrik Lundqvist “just because they ran ours,” it would be na´ve not to expect some sort of retaliation from the Habs’ side. The Rangers may have an extra element of protection on their side. With Derick Brassard’s status for Game 2 looking doubtful, tough guy Daniel Carcillo may draw into the lineup. Carcillo told ESPN NY he doesn’t know if he’ll play but is ready if his name is called: “I think everybody knows my role.”
Series lead: If there is anything to take away from the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, it is that no series lead is safe and the Rangers probably know that better than anyone. The Blueshirts have dropped 13 straight games when leading a series, though they have edged out two seven-game series this spring to advance to their second Eastern Conference finals appearance in the past three seasons. The Rangers have played like a team with renewed purpose, however, ever since the passing of veteran forward Martin St. Louis’ mother last week. The entire team attended her funeral service in nearby Laval, Quebec, on Sunday.