Now things really start to get complicated for the Montreal Canadiens.
Head coach Michel Therrien is confirming that not only is his gold medal goalie, Carey Price, not going to start Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers on Monday, he’s out for the series.
For a team that has had remarkable injury luck throughout the playoffs, it is the cruelest possible blow.
You want to contemplate the worst-case scenario, this is it.
A visibly angry Therrien said of the Game 1 sequence where Price was injured by a falling Chris Kreider, “it’s a reckless play, that’s the truth. It’s not the first time he’s gone at goalies.”
He also said the team now owes it to their star netminder to extend their playoff run – should they progress to the Stanley Cup final, it’s at least theoretically possible that Price will be well enough to play (the exact nature of his right leg injury has not been revealed).
Therrien said the Habs have faced adversity before, and that they’ve always responded.
“I know our team has a lot of character,” he said.
But there’s a difference between adversity and the crippling loss of your top player at the worst possible time.
The Rangers have lost 12 straight playoff games after taking the lead in a series. It might be worth making a prop bet on that string ending on Monday.
The only worse thing that could have happened to the Habs – actually never mind, there’s nothing worse.
Backup Peter Budaj has never won a playoff start (0-2, with an .843 save percentage), while third-stringer Dustin Tokarski has never played an NHL playoff game.
Tokarski does have a strong track record in the minors (he won the Calder Cup) and in junior hockey (where he won the Memorial Cup and the World Junior Championship), so if Therrien is in the mood for bold gestures, he could go with the 24-year-old Saskatchewan native.