On a scale of 1 to 10, Carey Price rates his health somewhere between 3 and 7.
Recently practising in full gear for the first time in months, the NHL’s reigning MVP is “pretty confident” he’ll rejoin the Montreal Canadiens this season, but there is no timeline for his return to action as he recovers from a lower-body injury.
“As soon as possible,” Price told reporters in Brossard, Que., Thursday, after facing pucks. “I haven’t seen a shot for three months. To go out on the ice and do some real work, it’s been real nice.
“I’m starting to push my limits a bit more,” added Price, who believes he turned the corner in his recovery over the last couple of weeks. “I’m continuing the process. It’s been a really long one, obviously.”
Price said he has not suffered any setbacks, but his rehabilitation did plateau at one point. He's still unsure if he'll be game-ready "this year or next year." (Watch his full media availability in the player above.)
In late November, Price was given a six-week recovery timeline. In January, that was pushed to a late-February or early-March return. Reports in February that Price's season was over were denied.
Price's unspecified injury (a suspected knee) has not required surgery and he has been skating by himself, recently in full gear. The health issue stems from an incident on Oct. 29 in Edmonton, where Price stepped on a puck during warm-up.
After rushing to its best start in franchise history, Montreal (30-28-6) has plummeted out of the playoff picture.
When Price last played, the club was in first place overall. The Habs became a trade-deadline seller and now sit sixth in the Atlantic Division and 22nd overall.
The aim has always been to play this season, Price said, regardless of the Canadiens' place in the standings. Being sidelined has taken its toll mentally.
"I want to be out there playing the game that I love," Price said. "It's not a matter of protecting me."
Price started the season with a seven-game winning streak, but the Edmonton injury cost him the next 22 days of game action. The star netminder returned on Nov. 20 and posted three more W's.
The 28-year-old was removed from his Nov. 25 victory over the New York Rangers after re-aggravating the injury. The tandem of rookie Mike Condon and newly acquired Ben Scrivens has been tasked with holding down the fort in his absence.
Price (10-2-0) has recorded two shutouts and holds a sparkling save percentage of .934. A gold medalist in Sochi, Price said he was honoured to be named to Team Canada's 2016 World Cup roster on Wednesday. Price will be Canada's first option for the world championships in May, but his wife, Angela, is due to give birth on April 29.
"I'm going to be a new dad," he smiled. "I don't know if my wife is going to let me go."