BROSSARD - After several weeks of speculation, Carey Price confirmed he'll be back in the Canadiens net on Saturday night.
The past few weeks have been anything but a vacation for the Habs' No. 31. After hurting himself right before the start of his team's November 2 game in Minnesota, Price resumed practicing several days later, took a break in his rehab efforts, and also heard a few rumors about himself in the process.
That said, with his return to game action now only a matter of hours away, Price is able to put all that behind him. And after his first full practice since Monday, the netminder felt like he was back to full form and ready to take on the Sabres.
"I had a pretty good idea that I would feel good today. I just wanted to make sure that going through full practice, [I'd be] feeling good and feeling like my game is where it should be at to be in there," outlined Price, who has missed the last 10 games. "The last couple of skates weren't exactly full practice for me. [They were] pregame skates, and I didn't want to take shots away from the other guys. Taking a full practice today was big for me."
Video: Carey Price on making his return on Saturday
As he had said when he met with reporters back on November 14, the 30-year-old goaltender wasn't expecting to be out this long. Price admits that when he first felt pain just before the contest against the Wild three weeks ago, he maybe should've sat out as a preventative measure. Instead, thinking of his backup Al Montoya, he chose to stay in the lineup and play through it.
"I think the damage was already done at that point. By that time, it was already the end of warmup and I didn't want to throw Monty under the bus at the end of warmup," Price recalled. "It probably wasn't the greatest idea to go, but what are you going to do now."
While he was gone, Price enjoyed watching Charlie Lindgren - who was more than a little busy the last few weeks - take the mantle. The veteran goalie knows Lindgren wasn't exactly inserted into an easy situation, especially after Montoya himself went down to injury.
The news of Price's return had an immediate impact on Lindgren, as the 23-year-old was sent down to the AHL's Laval Rocket to make room for the Habs' No. 1 goaltender on the 23-man roster.
Video: Claude Julien's press conference
Head coach Claude Julien explained that the decision to keep Antti Niemi up in Montreal in Lindgren's stead was made for obvious reasons.
"It's pretty obvious that with the uncertainty around Montoya's situation, we could lose Niemi if we put him on waivers. By keeping him here, we can send Charlie back to Laval, which is 20 minutes from here and have him keep playing," the Habs' bench boss said of Lindgren, who registered a 3-4-1 record, a 2.43 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage in eight starts. "We can recall him anytime.
"We want to manage our goalie situation well so that we don't get caught off guard if we lose Niemi and another goalie gets hurt," he continued. That would bring us back to the situation we were in not too long ago."