The Eastern Conference Quarterfinals haven’t been too kind to the Montreal Canadiens. Coming into the postseason as the no. 2 seed, they’ve fallen pretty hard on their faces, quickly falling into a 3-1 series deficit against the division rival Ottawa Senators.
This has been a series in which the Canadiens have been decimated on the scoreboard, have lost heartbreakers after game-tying goals in the final seconds, and have lost their composure and looked foolish on national television. Could things get any worse?
Probably. Heading into Game 5, which is obviously a must-win for the Habs, it’s now a certainty that the club could be without franchise goaltender Carey Price. Price was hurt on a weird injury on the last shot of regulation in Game 4. He didn’t appear to tweak anything, but he was initially day-to-day with a lower body injury. The Habs announced on Thursday morning that he’d miss the remainder of the series.
With it now confirmed that Price will be unable to go, then the Habs will be forced to start Peter Budaj in Game 5. Budaj gave up a goal on two shots in overtime in Game 4, which came on an apparent deflection off of the elbow of Raphael Diaz. He made a career-low 10 starts in 2013, but did manage to win eight of them and record a shutout.
Nonetheless, the Habs are in serious trouble with Price out for the remainder of the series. While Budaj was solid during the regular season, the postseason is an entirely different animal. And one that Budaj has very little experience with, playing only five times during the playoffs in his career.
If there’s a positive for the Habs, it’s that they did look strong for much of Game 4, dictating play until the Senators tied it up in the final minute to force overtime. So they should be coming in with a bit of confidence. But without Price, this team is going to have a tough time staving off elimination on Thursday night.