Montreal Canadiens’ star goaltender Carey Price will make his 2021-22 regular season debut on Friday night at home against the New York Islanders.
Having not played a game since last summer’s Stanley Cup Final – to which he and his mates were only able to pick up one win against the dominant Tampa Bay Lightning – the 34-year-old backstop has been on a lengthy layover following off-season knee surgery. He has been on the ice with his team the past week-and-a-half, and even travelled with his club on their latest road trip.
On Friday morning, Price left the ice first, indicating he would be the goaltender of record later in the day.
Habs’ interim head coach Martin St. Louis confirmed that assumption just moments later with a smile and a chuckle.
Marty’s smile when he announces that Carey is starting tonight is soo pic.twitter.com/gUll1a7IYE
— carina (@14SUZUKI14) April 15, 2022
“There’s a saying that champions are built when no one is looking,” St. Louis added on Friday. “A player’s success, for the fans, is judged on the ice, but the player has to do a lot of things to be successful on the ice — often alone, when no one is watching or cheering him on.”
Price turned his focus away from his knee rehab last fall, when he voluntarily entered the NHL’s player assistance program, after earlier serving as a participant in the program when he dealt with substance abuse.
The Anahim Lake, B.C. product has spent the entirety of his 14-year NHL career with Montreal. Last year, he went 12-7-5 with a 2.64 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. He won 13 games in the postseason, posting a 2.28 goals against average and a .924 save percentage before losing to Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s hard work. It’s not just physical hard work, I think mentally he probably got challenged this year in terms of just staying sane, taking a step forward and then a couple of steps back,” St. Louis said last week. “Sometimes, it’s hard to find some clarity through that process, but Carey, since I came on board, I feel he’s been a pro about it and trying to take care of every day the best he can.”
Back in January, Price addressed the media for the first time since the Stanley Cup, stressing his hope to return to the Habs’ lineup before season’s end. Well, he made it just in time. The Canadiens have just eight games remaining. One would think that Price would get at least six starts between now and the end of the season if all goes well.
Montreal is currently last in the league with a 20-43-11 record. The club has given up a league-high 284 goals against – all coming without their all-world netminder between the pipes.
The Canadiens host the Islanders at 6:00 PM central time on Friday evening. The game can be viewed live on TSN.