The Canadiens haven’t held a lot of Sunday practices this season, but they did after Saturday’s 7-2 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final.
The players hit the ice at 11 a.m. Sunday in Brossard to prepare for Game 2 of the series Monday night at the Bell Centre (8 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690), but one of the players missing was Carey Price. The goaltender did go on the ice in Brossard with goalie coach Stephane Waite for about five minutes earlier in the morning and did some stretching before deciding to skip the optional practice.
The other players who decided to skip the practice were Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller, P.K. Subban and Josh Gorges. Goalies Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski were in the nets.
Budaj has a 3-1-0 lifetime record against the Rangers and made 27 saves in the Canadiens’ 2-0 win over New York on Oct. 28. In seven career playoff games, Budaj has an 0-2 record with a 5.13 goals-against average and .843 save percentage.
Price was pulled after the second period of Game 1 with the Canadiens losing 4-1. Price was shaken up early in the second period when the Rangers’ Chris Kreider plowed into him in the crease. Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said after the game he thought the collision was accidental and added he didn’t pull Price because he was injured.
“The fact is I took him out to protect him,” Therrien said after Saturday’s game. “We were not sharp in front of him.”
After Sunday’s practice, Therrien told reporters in Brossard: “Today is an optional practice, and this is a therapy day for (Price). I reviewed the incident, and obviously it was an accidental contact. Put it this way, (he) didn’t make much effort to avoid the contact.”
When asked if there was any doubt Price would play in Game 2, Therrien said: “We’ll see tomorrow. I can’t tell you that right now.”
As for the Game 1 blowout loss, Therrien said: “We turned the page and I’m not going back to yesterday’s game. What’s important to us is how we play tomorrow.”
The coach added: “What I’ve liked about our team all season is how we’ve responded to losses. Tomorrow I expect our team to have a good attitude.”
Alex Galchenyuk, who has been sidelined for more than a month with a knee injury, spent extra time on the ice after practice with assistant coach Gerard Gallant and has been cleared for contact.
“He’s doing really good,” Therrien said about Galchenyuk. ” He’s cleared for contact, he practised well, and we’ll see for tomorrow.”
Therrien added “it’s always a possibility” Galchenyuk could play in Game 2.
Meanwhile, the entire Rangers team attended the funeral service in Laval Sunday for teammate Martin St. Louis. St. Louis’s mother, France, died suddenly of a heart attack in Montreal on May 8 at age 63.
“Well, what I can say is that the New York Rangers family has been touched by a little Quebec family in a deep, profound way,” coach Alain Vigneault said when he met with the media after the funeral. “Today was very emotional, very moving time for our team to have the opportunity to be there and share that with Marty and his family.
“Marty took the stand or the podium or whatever you want to call it, and shared some incredible moments. It was a very deep message. It was a challenging day for us.”
Vigneault was asked how his team can focus its attention back on Game 2 Monday night.
“Well, I think considering we’ve got basically the rest of the day off and guys are going to do what they normally do the night before a game, and tomorrow morning we’re going to practise, and we’re going to start focusing on what we need to do hockey-wise. That’s the only thing we can do. Today is a day where we think about Marty and his family and his mother, and tomorrow life goes on and we’ve got to get ready for a big game.”
Vigneault was also asked if Price doesn’t play in Game 2 if that would change his team’s approach.
“I’m sure Price is going to be there, so we’re getting ready for him,” Vigneault said.
(Photo by John Kenney/The Gazette)