MONTREAL, Quebec - The decision by Mike Babock to ride goaltender Carey Price resulted in an Olympic gold medal for Team Canada - and also provided the coach with a bonus on a much lesser scale.
Price, who capped a brilliant performance in Sochi with back-to-back shutouts, is not expected to be in goal for the Montreal Canadiens when they host Babcock's Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. Backup Peter Budaj will get the nod in place of Price for Montreal, which resumes NHL action riding a three-game win streak.
The Red Wings were just starting to get healthy before the Olympic break following a season-long string of injuries, but they absorbed another huge blow when captain Henrik Zetterberg played in only one game in Sochi before returning to the United States to undergo surgery for a herniated disk in his back. Zetterberg, the team's leading scorer despite missing 13 games, is not expected back for the regular season. He was among six Detroit players on Team Sweden, which lost to Canada in Sunday's the gold-medal game.
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ABOUT THE RED WINGS (26-20-12): Pavel Datsyuk, one of the few bright spots for underacheiving Team Russia, said Tuesday he was still feeling pain in his knee - one of two injuries that have forced him to sit out 21 games. Datsyuk, who missed more than a month before playing in the final two contests prior to the Olympic break, is fourth on the team with 15 goals and 18 assists in 37 games.
Detroit received some positive news on the injury front when forward Johan Franzen, who has played only once since Dec. 15 due to a concussion, received medical clearance to return and could be back in the lineup Wednesday.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (32-21-6): Montreal was on a tear entering the Olympic break, going 5-1-1 and outscoring the opposition 20-7. Budaj's only start in that span was a 34-save performance in a 4-1 victory at Boston that snapped a personal three-game losing streak in which the Canadiens managed a total of only three goals.
One hot-button issue for the Canadiens approaching next week's trade deadline is the status of veteran defenseman Andrei Markov, who reportedly was offered a one-year contract extension but declined to comment on it at Tuesday's practice, saying the "process is ongoing."
1. The Canadiens have lost four of their last six matchups (2-3-1) against the Red Wings, including a 4-1 setback in Detroit on Jan. 24.
2. Red Wings G Jimmy Howard has won two of three career starts versus Montreal but is laboring through a 12-13-9 season.
3. Canadiens C Alex Galchenyuk is expected back in the lineup for the first time since suffering a broken hand on Jan. 6.
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