Carey Price uncertain for Game 2
BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price did not participate in the team's optional practice on Sunday, throwing his status into doubt for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.
Price was pulled during Saturday's embarrassing 7-2 loss after surrendering four goals on 20 shots in two periods of play. He also appeared shaken up after a collision during the second period with Rangers winger Chris Kreider, though Canadiens coach Michel Therrien insisted after the game that Price was not taken out for injury.
On Sunday, however, 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 reiterated that he felt the incident between Kreider and Price was "accidental," but took a thinly veiled shot at the Rangers' forward as well.
"Let's put it this way, he didn't put much effort to avoid the contact," Therrien said.
Some of Price's teammates also expressed their concern with the hit and Kreider's intent.
Montreal forward 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.
"It wasn't really sitting for me, so I had my head down trying to settle the puck. I put it wide and somehow lost my footing. I thought maybe someone pressured me from behind," Kreider told reporters after the game. "I seem to have an issue staying on my feet on those, but then I went in skates-first and I just had too much momentum and couldn't really avoid him. It didn't feel too good for me either."
Rangers forward Brad Richards jumped to Kreider's defense on Sunday. He said Kreider is a big, fast player, so when he gets going it can be difficult to stop.
"It's a split-second thing that happened. No one's trying to -- we're trying to score goals and get ahead 3-0, not manufacture something like that," Richards said. "They can say that. They can think that. That's their right, but we know how Chris plays, and it's a fast game out there, a lot of things can happen."
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he was not in the mood to "pick a fight with anybody" on Sunday when asked about the Canadiens' comments regarding Kreider.
"What's great about this country is that everybody's entitled to their own opinion," he said. "You don't have to agree with it, but everybody's entitled to their opinion. I tend to believe a 2-0 game, guy going on a breakaway, he's trying to score."
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.
"I don't know if I'm playing or not," Budaj said from the team's practice facility Sunday morning. "Hopefully Price is alright -- he skated before [practice] so we'll see how he feels."
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