Canadiens Notebook: Juraj Slafkovsky has tests on upper-body injury

Brendan Gallagher still adjusting to not having longtime teammate Carey Price around in the locker room.

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Juraj Slafkovsky didn’t take part in the Canadiens’ practice Monday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard with the team announcing he was undergoing medical tests for an upper-body injury.

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Slafkovsky suffered the injury during a 6-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes last Thursday night at the Bell Centre. The No. 1 overall pick at this year’s NHL draft also scored his first goal during that game.

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Slafkovsky wasn’t in the lineup when the Canadiens lost 5-2 to the Dallas Stars Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens will be back in action Tuesday night when the Minnesota Wild visit the Bell Centre (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

Joel Armia (upper body) and Joel Edmundson (lower body), who have been sidelined since the start of the season with injuries, both took part in Monday’s practice while wearing non-contact jerseys.

Brendan Gallagher, who crashed heavily into the boards during the second period of Saturday’s loss to Dallas and had to leave the game briefly, was back on the ice at practice Monday.

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“I was happy to be able to come back in the game and be fine,” Gallagher said.

Head coach Martin St. Louis didn’t speak with the media on Monday so there was no further update on Slafkovsky’s condition.

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Missing Carey

The reason St. Louis didn’t speak with the media on Monday was because goalie Carey Price did speak for more than 20 minutes after practice.

Price is on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury and won’t play this season. It seems unlikely he will ever play again since he can’t even go up and down stairs at this point without feeling pain in his knee. Price has four seasons remaining on his contract, but his $10.5 million salary-cap hit won’t count against the team cap while he’s on LTIR.

Gallagher is still adjusting to not having Price in the locker room after the goalie was limited to five games last season because of his knee injury.

“It’s different looking down there (in the locker room) and not having in here,” Gallagher said. “He was really the focal point of this team, this organization, for so many years, so it’s different. But I was just fortunate enough to spend the years that I did with him and he made me look good on many nights. I’d never say that to his face, but I owe him one or two. It’s different not having him in here, for sure.”

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Gallagher said his best memories of Price as a teammate come from Game 7 playoff games against the Boston Bruins in 2014 and the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2021. The Canadiens won both of those games 3-1.

“When we got into playoff runs, it was pretty nice going into a Game 7,” Gallagher said. “I remember the two that we had — Boston and Toronto — my favourite memory (memory) might be before the game feeling incredibly nervous and kind of having my head down and looking up and both times just seeing him as calm as could be. The sense of relief it gave me as a teammate, as a player, it’s hard to describe. Knowing when you have him back there he’s going to be the best player on the ice that night and to have that type of confidence in a teammate is something special.

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“He made highlight-reel saves, he liked to show off on a Saturday night with his big windmill glove saves,” Gallagher added. “He did a lot. The Carey chants. There’s so many things throughout his career. His Vézina-, Hart-winning season (in 2014-15), how dominant he was. There’s so many things that you can look at. But I think for me it was just the confidence he gave us to go out there and be able to win a hockey game was something that I don’t think a lot of players get to feel.”

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Price still around

Price said he will still be around the team as he continues to do rehab on his knee.

“Any injured guy will tell you that it’s kind of a weird position to be in,” Price said. “You feel like you’re a part of the team, but you don’t really feel like you’re a part of the team. You’re kind of in a grey area, especially when you’re projected to be out an extended period of time. I don’t want to be in there every day and be using up resources. These guys come in here, they work hard every day, they see trainers every day and I don’t want to impede their progress. I’m not going to be a part of that process here this season. I feel like I’m in the way.

“I’ll be around,” the goalie added. “I miss being with the guys. Any player that’s not playing will tell you it’s really something they miss the most is joking around with the guys. I still have some really close friends on this team. There’s a lot of guys on this team that I haven’t played with also. So I’m just trying to respect their space and the resources and their time. I’ll definitely be hanging around. I enjoy being with these guys and being able to talk with the fellas that I played with before and getting to know some of the new players.”

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Price was asked if his knee problems started after the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider ran into him during Game 1 of the 2014 Eastern Conference final. Price missed the rest of that series with a knee injury and the Rangers ending up winning in six games.

“I think that all started from about 8 years old,” Price said about the physical wear and tear of being a goalie. “It’s a demanding position on a body, especially as you get older in your mid-30s. It’s just a progression. I’ve had ankle issues, hip issue, back issue. The older you get you just don’t recover from that as well. I think it’s just like an accumulation of playing hard for a long time.”

Price was also asked if he’s at peace if he has indeed played his last game in the NHL.

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“It’s something that you digest and I don’t think I’ve fully done that yet, to be honest,” he said. “There’s still that outside hope that a miracle happens and I can maybe come back and play at some point. I’ve always been a bit of an optimist, so I’m not giving up. And definitely not giving up on winning a Stanley Cup in some aspect, whatever position that would be in. I’m just trying to focus on all the positives of life and right now my kids are really giving me that avenue. My wife is being very supportive and my family. I’m a very lucky individual and I try to keep all these things in perspective.”

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Beck named OHL player of the week

Canadiens prospect Owen Beck was named the OHL’s Player of the Week on Monday after posting 3-6-9 totals in two games with the Mississauga Steelheads.

Beck, selected by the Canadiens in the second round (33rd overall) at this year’s NHL draft, tied a Steelheads team record last Friday night by getting six points (one goal, five assists) in an 8-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs. Beck also won 13 of the 17 faceoffs he took in that game. On Saturday, Beck had two goals and an assist in a 6-5 win over the Barrie Colts.

In seven games this season with Mississauga since being returned to junior by the Canadiens, Beck has 6-6-12 totals.

Filip Mesar, selected by the Canadiens in the first round (26th overall) of this year’s NHL draft, also had a good week in the OHL, posting 3-3-6 totals in his first two games with the Kitchener Rangers.

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What’s next?

The Canadiens will be back in action Tuesday night at the Bell Centre against the Minnesota Wild (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

The Canadiens will then hit the road for their next four games, starting Thursday in Buffalo against the Sabres (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) and then Saturday in St. Louis against the Blues (7 p.m., SN360, CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio).

Next week, the Canadiens will play the Wild in Minnesota on Tuesday (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) and the Jets in Winnipeg on Thursday (8 p.m., TSN2, TSN3, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM), before returning home to play the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

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