Who would have thought that an injury to just one player would cause such a chain reaction? When that one player is goaltender Carey Price, everyone is affected.
It should be difficult to do a season review on Price, since he only minded the net for the Montreal Canadiens for a mere 12 games this season. But, it's Carey Price, and if the start of the 2015-16 season was any indication, we would have been in for one hell of a ride.
Price picked up right where he left off, continuing to shine as the best goaltender in the world. Before suffering a season-ending injury in November, he had a record of 10-2-0 — two of which were shutouts — for a winning percentage of .883, a goals-against average of 2.06, and a save percentage of .934.
The injury not only took its toll on his team, it trickled down to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps and the ECHL's Brampton Beast. With the star netminder out of commission, six other goaltenders were affected.
Mike Condon, who was to be Price's backup for the season, was shoved into a starting role, playing a total of 55 games. IceCaps rookie Zach Fucale also had to take on more responsibility when the team's starting goalie, Dustin Tokarski, was recalled to be Condon's backup.
Eddie Pasquale was recalled from Brampton to share duties with Fucale. Ben Scrivens was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers to experiment with some veteran experience, and last, but not least, NCAA goalie Charlie Lindgren was signed on March 30, just before the season ended.
Out of all five goaltenders who backed the Canadiens this year, Price still ended the season with the best numbers. It's well known that he has the ability to get into his opponents heads, but it seems his absence got into the heads of his teammates, causing them to go into a tailspin without his presence on the ice and in the dressing room.
The Canadiens ended up losing 34 games (six in overtime) without Price, finishing the season with 82 points; 14 shy of making the playoffs. Brendan Gallagher stated that for as long as he's been a part of the organization, Price has had the ability to steal some games. "It's not to take anything away from the goalies we had this year, they did an awesome job of battling, but they're not Carey Price."
When Price sustained an injury against the New York Rangers on November 25, we weren't told of the exact nature of the injury until more than four months later, on April 6, when it was announced that he tore the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right leg. According to the team's doctors, Price wasn't a candidate for surgery and MCL injuries are treated with rest and rehabilitation, usually with a six-to-eight-week recovery period.
But Price's MCL didn't respond as expected, mainly due to the fact that it can take longer for an athlete who puts a lot of stress on his knee, such as a goalie, causing him to be sidelined for the remainder of the season. Dr. Vincent Lacroix stated that the injury was not the same as he had suffered earlier the season on October 29 against the Edmonton Oilers, nor in previous years.
However, Price did say that when Chris Kreider slid skates first into him at the beginning of the 2014 playoffs, his MCL was injured. A hit that will forever be burned into our brains.
If we've learned anything from having to survive a season without Price, it's that we'll never know for sure if he's 100%. As for his future, Michel Therrien ensures us that "...there's no doubt in our mind that he'll be ready for training camp."
By the end of the season, there were plenty of videos of Price skating without equipment, then with equipment, then finally facing shots in a team practice. He was always this close to returning, so we can assume that come October the stars will align: Price will be 100%, and back in his rightful place between the Canadiens pipes once again.
By the time the 2016-17 season rolls around, we should expect to see the Canadiens star goaltender do what he does best, maybe even with a bit of extra fire in his belly to make up for a lost season.