Carey Price looked like himself on Wednesday. And, after missing just over a month with a concussion, maybe that’s the best news in the Montreal Canadiens’ 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Sure, there were little signs of rust, and let’s face it, 34 saves behind this Habs team is still pretty good.
But Price returning for the end of the season is good. Because it eases a lot of concerns.
There was a lot of talk about whether it was the right call for Price to come back for meaningless games at the end of the season, and I understand that. But these games are important for other reasons.
Concussions aren’t like broken legs. They don’t just heal. If Price was cleared to play after his concussion - and there is absolutely zero reason to believe he wasn’t - then there is no more risk with him playing now than there would be in September when he would make his pre-season debut. Concussions don’t just go away, whether in days, weeks, months, or years. There is always a risk. The best thing you could do is take care of one at a time.
And for Price, he is already under immense pressure as next year will be the first of his mega contract extension. Now he gets to go into an off-season and prepare for the next season knowing he doesn’t have to also worry about not having played an NHL regular season game in eight months when the next year starts.
Sure, there was the controversial Evgeni Malkin goal. But, really, does it matter? Price made flashy saves, got beat by a great effort by Sidney Crosby, and generally looked like himself.
In a season like this, I’m sure Canadiens fans will take whatever positives they can get. And even in a losing effort there are some. They fought back after being down 2-0 against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions with an overmatched roster. Players like Nikita Scherbak and Noah Juulsen show they belong. Even Jacob de la Rose has taken strides.
Not all is lost with the future of this franchise. Seeing Carey Price back in goal is one of the reasons why.