Price Returns to Canadiens Line-Up, Will Backup Niemi Monday Versus Panthers
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is set to return to the line-up on Monday night, albeit as backup to Antti Niemi as the Canadiens take on Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre.
The 30-year-old had been sidelined with a concussion sustained against Philadelphia Flyers on February 20th, missing 13-games, but returned to practise on Thursday before travelling with the team to Toronto for Saturday’s game against the Maple Leafs – though he did not feature in the contest.
Despite Price practicing in starter’s net, Niemi gets start Monday vs Panthers. Price backs up.
— Brian Wilde (@BWildeRecrutes) March 19, 2018
Despite returning to the ice, the decision to insert Price into the line-up for Monday’s game will come as a surprise to some, with the Canadiens 26th overall in the NHL and 18 points outside of the playoffs.
The previous assumption had been that the superstar puck stopper would be shut down for the season, so as not to risk any further complications, but Price indicated that no such discussion ever took place when speaking to Sportsnet’s Eric Engels on Friday, instead expressing a desire to finish the season ‘strong’.
Even so, bringing the British Columbia native back in to the fold as backup could be considered an interesting move by the Canadiens.
Whilst on the surface it allows Price a chance to ease himself back in to things, should Niemi be forced out of the game it risks exposing Price, ‘cold’, to a Panthers team desperate to chase down New Jersey and Columbus for a wild card spot.
The upside for the Canadiens is that Price regains some confidence through the closing weeks of the 2017/18 regular season and uses it as a spring board into next season.
In 43 games for the Canadiens this season, Price holds a 15-22-6 record with a .904 save percentage and 2.98 goals-against average.
To make way for Price, Charlie Lindgren – who made 45-saves against the Maple Leafs on Saturday in a 4-0 loss – has been returned to the Canadiens AHL affiliate in Laval.