With the news breaking Monday that Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price sustained an undisclosed injury when he was slid into by New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider in Game 1, and will miss the balance of the Eastern Conference final as a result, the focus on a controversial sequence has heated up considerably.
In addressing Price's extended absence, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien poured gasoline on the conflagration by describing Kreider's play as "reckless." Therrien proceeded to note Kreider's history of crease crashing, "And Kreider, this is not the first time that he is going at goalies," Therrien said per Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star.
New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault unsurprisingly disagreed with Therrien's assessment. "It was a hockey play," Vigneault told reporters, before adding that Price's absence from the series "doesn't change anything for us."
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist described the collision as "an accident.". Asked if he expected to be run by Canadiens players in retaliation, Lundqvist simply (and perhaps naively) replied, "I hope not."
Kreider meanwhile, who has vaulted himself into a prominent position as public enemy No. 1 in Montreal et ses environs, expressed zero regret for his role in Price's injury. "I look back on it and wish I would've put it in the net," Kreider said. "Obviously I was trying to score a goal.
"I don't go out with the intent to hurt anyone ever," continued the Rangers forward.
Kreider was moving quickly on the play, and appeared to be tripped by Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin immediately before the collision. If the Canadiens do go after Lundqvist in response to Price's injury, expect forward Brendan Gallagher to be front and center. The diminutive pest and the league's smallest net-front ace led the NHL in goalie interference penalties in the regular season, and by a very wide margin.