Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, sidelined this season while dealing with a myriad of issues, will travel with the team to New Jersey and Toronto, but is not expected play in either of those games and a firm date for his return has not been set.
Price last played on July 7 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final and his prolonged absence from the team started just weeks after the series ended. At first, his absence was due to off-season knee surgery, but it later extended to the beginning of the current season when he left for treatment for what he called long-standing issues with substance abuse.
When asked recently when he thought Price would suit up for a game again, Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis said, “I have no clue," before adding that "if you get a small sample of Carey this year and some encouraging things for him — whether it’s his play or how he feels after his play — I think the Montreal Canadiens are going to be in a better place."
Though a firm date for a return to game action remains unknown, there have been promising signs of progress over recent months. Price briefly started skating in late 2021 but then had to take a step back in his recovery, returning to only off-ice work until March when his on-ice work resumed. He has since participated in a handful of Canadiens practices, though was forced into another pause by a non-COVID-related illness.
Perhaps the most encouraging development came earlier this week, when Price returned to the ice to practice with the team on Monday. He stayed on the ice for almost the entirety of Montreal's first drill — a small-area scrimmage between both blue lines — and did the bulk of the work for all the others over the next 50 minutes.
Although him playing on the road against New Jersey or Toronto does not appear likely, the Canadiens return home on Monday to face the Winnipeg Jets, setting the stage for a potential return to the ice in front of the Bell Centre faithful.
Without Price, the Canadiens have struggled through what has been a largely forgettable season on the ice, hamstrung by poor play and injuries, resulting in a front-office overhaul. They are in last place in the NHL.