Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said on Friday that goaltender Carey Price, who has missed the last 19 games after aggravating a lower-body injury suffered earlier in the season, won’t be cleared to return to action before the NHL breaks for the All-Star Weekend between Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.
Price went down in the second period of Montreal’s 5-1 win over the New York Rangers Nov. 25, and was slated to miss a minimum six weeks as of Nov. 30 after being evaluated by Canadiens’ doctors.
“When you know it’s going to be a long-term injury, it’s hard to say exactly what day the player can get back to play,” Therrien said in French. “So he has to follow the rehabilitation process, and I’m told it’s going well.”
Price missed nine games between Oct. 30 and Nov. 19 with the original injury.
The reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy-winner has appeared in 12 of Montreal’s 42 games this season, winning 10 of them (.934 save percentage, 2.06 goals against average).
Therrien specified that Petry played Montreal’s last two games—back-to-backs against Philadelphia and New Jersey Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, with the injury.
“He’s an important player for us,” said Therrien. “The fact that he’s there since the beginning of the year—I think our [defencemen] are more stable regarding their positioning.”
Petry has four goals and nine assists in 40 games this season. He recently missed two games with an upper-body injury after taking a hit from Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn on Dec. 19.
Petry’s absence from the lineup forces Therrien to juggle his defence pairings.
“Markov will be used more and his responsibilities will increase with Petry out,” said Therrien.
Up front, forward Tomas Fleischmann will be a healthy scratch for a second consecutive game.
Fleischmann, who signed a one-year, $750,000 deal after the Canadiens invited him to try out with them at training camp, got off to a fast start with seven goals and eight assists in his first 22 games. He struggled with just one goal and one assist over his last 19 games.
“We felt he was much more dynamic at the beginning of the season than he was most recently,” said Therrien. “When you take a player out of the lineup, you can’t promise they’ll get back in the next day or the next game.
He’ll get his opportunity, that’s for sure. When that will be, I can’t say for sure if I’m being honest. When he gets his opportunity I want to see him play with a lot of enthusiasm and be much more dynamic.”