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We'll see in the morning

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – It looks like Carey Price could be back between the pipes as soon as Tuesday night.

After missing Saturday night’s game with a minor upper-body injury, the Canadiens netminder was back at practice at the Bell Sports Complex on Monday, readying himself for a possible return against the Western Conference powerhouse Nashville Predators at the Bell Centre.

“I feel very good. I’ll see how I feel in the morning and I’ll take it from there. There's a good chance that I’ll be able to get back in there,” offered Price, who ranks fourth in the league with 23 wins during the 2014-15 campaign. “With how important games are and how close things are at the top of the standings, you don’t want to be sitting out because those points could be important come the end of the season.”

While the 27-year-old netminder didn’t expand upon the nature of his injury on Monday, he did open up about his collision with Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert last week in the 3-2 win over Columbus which ultimately cost him at least one scheduled start.

“It was a routine play. That’s the nature of the sport. The guys want to play an aggressive style. It was just kind of a bang-bang play. Fortunately, it wasn’t a serious injury. I had a lingering problem before that and it just compounded the issue,” confided Price, who also boasts a 2.19 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage in 35 games this season. “I didn’t feel that bad until after the game. When you’re in the heat of the moment, you’re running on adrenaline. I knew that it would only last a couple of days, though.”

If Price gets the green light to suit up on Tuesday, that bodes well for his scheduled trek later in the week to take part in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game festivities in Ohio alongside fellow goaltenders Sergei Bobrovsky, Jaroslav Halak, Roberto Luongo and Marc-Andre Fleury.

“It’s something that you’re very proud of. It’s nice to take part in these types of events. It’s a privilege to go to these things. Obviously, having a little bit more time off would be nice, but at the end of the day it’s an honor to go to an All-Star Game,” mentioned Price, who was named an NHL All-Star for the fourth time in his career earlier in the month. “I play one period of hockey, so it’s not that bad. You get to hang out with other players. I’ve met a lot of guys throughout the league and I’m pretty good friends with them. My dad’s going to have the opportunity to go. My wife will, too. I have a couple of friends coming over from Cleveland. It’s going to be pretty fun.”

Price’s teammates were clearly pleased to see the Anahim Lake, BC native back at work in Brossard, knowing full well that it was the first test the netminder needed to pass en route to returning to active duty.

“I’m not really worried when it comes to Carey. We’re happy to see him back at practice and that goes for every one of the guys,” mentioned defenseman P.K. Subban. “You want your teammates to be able to practice and to play. You just want them to be healthy. We’ve been lucky in that department all season long, and we hope that it continues.”

With that in mind, does the Norris Trophy winner believe that the league is doing everything possible to protect Price & Co. in today’s NHL?

“I think they’re well protected. Generally, when you come into contact with a goalie, there’s automatically a penalty. It’s rare that it isn’t called. I’m happy that I’m not the guy who makes the rules or makes those decisions, but the way things are right now is good,” offered Subban. “As a defenseman, I think the hardest thing is when a guy sets himself up in the crease. It’s tough because you can’t really move him. You have to stay there, hoping that the puck hits you or the goalie sees the shot. That being said, I’m not the one that decides. I’m just happy to play.”

And, you can bet nothing would make head coach Michel Therrien happier than to see his starter healthy and ready to tend goal against the league’s second-ranked squad in the team’s final tilt before the All-Star break.

“If Carey feels good, he’ll play,” confirmed Therrien. “He seemed pretty comfortable on the ice. I spoke with [goaltending coach] Stephane Waite and everything seemed to go well. We’ll see how he reacts at practice, but he should play on Tuesday.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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