Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price brings about a god-like presence every time he steps on ice. He makes saves that win games, and catches the puck with a ferocity of a wild cat. The only thing that can stop him is injuries. Ever since Game One against the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens have been stuck without their goaltender god.
New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider had a violent collision with Carey Price in the second period of Game One. Though Price got up and finished off the rest of the period, the goaltender limped off at the end of the period and sat out in the rest of the game. In the first game, the Montreal Canadiens received a pummeling by the Rangers, losing by an atrocious score of 7-2. While the fans were upset with the team performance, the possibility of a seriously injured goalie rarely crossed their minds. Thus, when Canadiens coach Michel Therrien announced that the goalie would likely miss the entire round, the city stood still. The news fell on a hockey-obsessed town like a bomb. As the Montreal Canadiens realized that they were going to be stuck for multiple games without their goaltender god, outcry was visible all over social media, with many fans claiming that the collision was not an accident.
The disappointment of the fans is understandable, as the team heavily relies on their goaltender to bring home the wins. Meanwhile, the idea that Kreider has crashed into Price on purpose is not all that farfetched either. This is not the first time Chris Kreider had collided with a goalie, and unfortunately, it is also not the first he injured a goalie due to this collision. A similar incident took place during Round Two of the Stanley Cup playoffs, when Chris Kreider ran into the Pittsburgh Penguins goalie, Mark-Andre Fleury. Another victim of a violent collision with Kreider is the Ottawa Senators goaltender, Craig Anderson. In February of 2012, Kreider collided with Anderson and as a result of the collision, Anderson suffered a sprained ankle.
These previous incidents and the reaction of the New York Rangers towards a similar incident in Game Two is being used as evidence by many Canadiens fans who claim the collision was intentional. During the second game of the series, a similar collision took place when Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin crashed into New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The moment Emelin stood up, he was beaten by multiple New York Rangers players, coming to the defense of their goaltender. This incident could be perceived simply defending their teammate, but some fans have argued this incident was a guilty party admitting to their crime by attacking anyone who does something similar.
Unsurprisingly, the players for the New York Rangers support Kreider, truly believing that all of the collisions caused by Kreider to date were accidental. It may just be that Kreider is faced with a case of bad luck when he is around goalies, and that all the collisions are unintentional. While many Canadiens fans still think that the New York Rangers are protecting a mastermind, who destroyed their chance of winning a Stanley Cup for the 25th time, when the incident is reviewed, it is difficult to make the claim that it was deliberate. Not only was Kreider unaware of the positioning of Price’s leg during the collision, there was little he could do to avoid the impact with the goaltender.
While the Montreal Canadiens are stuck without their goaltender god, the New York Rangers will keep a close protective circle around Henrik Lundqvist. Though the Canadiens’ players are upset at the loss of Carey Price, they have not reached the point of true retaliation. However, if the Canadiens do not win the next game, that may put an end to any dreams of a Stanley Cup Final appearance, and may cause some players to use the opportunity to get in some final shots at the team that injured their star player.
Commentary by Ivelina Kunina