After an unwelcome spin on the rumor mill, Carey Price is ready for a twirl on the ice.
The Montreal Canadiens' star goaltender, who has been out since Nov. 2 with a lower-body injury, will return Saturday when the Buffalo Sabres visit Bell Centre.
Price dealt with more than an injury during his time away. Rumors enveloped the goaltender and his family. The biggest was that his wife, Angela, had issued an ultimatum to either move from Montreal or get divorced.
It was so bad that Angela Price went to Instagram on Monday to squash the chatter.
"Just for the record I am not getting divorced or threatening a divorce nor do I want to leave Montreal," she wrote while asking people to "chill out."
Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu knows that folks in Montreal rarely chill out. The iconic Canadiens are on the lips and minds of nearly everyone in the city. Even Beaulieu's new teammates in Buffalo asked him this week how the players handle it.
"It's something that you don't really realize or embrace until you're actually in it," Beaulieu said Friday. "It's tough to do a lot of things, especially guys like Carey Price. He can barely leave his house without getting bothered.
"Obviously, a guy like him it's tough for him to go for dinner. You've got to get a private room. You can't live a normal life."
When things are going well, however, it can also be an extraordinary life. There are statues galore outside Bell Centre. Winners are worshiped.
"There's pros and cons to playing in every city," Beaulieu said. "It's a special place to play. I'm proud to say I was a Canadien at one time. It's one of the most storied franchises in all of sports. I was lucky to be there one time. I still have friends outside the hockey world in Montreal, and I still plan on spending time there.
"I love the city, but it's definitely a bubble and you've definitely got to watch what you do."
Sabres coach Phil Housley has been watching Beaulieu's defense. The blue-liner hasn't had an ideal start in Buffalo after being acquired from Montreal during the offseason.
Beaulieu entered Friday's game against Edmonton with no goals, three assists and a minus-8 rating in 15 games. He also missed seven games with an upper-body injury.
"I haven't been satisfied whatsoever," Beaulieu said in KeyBank Center. "I feel like I can be a lot better. Obviously, the injury set me back a bit. I'm still trying to find my timing a bit, still trying to find my game a little bit. It's never easy on a team that's been struggling, so I'm trying to do whatever I can to help the team every night.
"So far, I feel like I have a lot more to bring."
The Sabres envisioned Beaulieu as a great fit for Housley's system. He skates well and has an offensive mindset, putting up four goals and 28 points for Montreal last season.
"We talk about the game that we want to play, and we forget about our play without the puck," Housley said. "When you're not scoring a lot, you have to really focus on the defensive part of the game because all those things will extend from it: your offense; the rushes; playing in the offensive zone. But if you don't take care of it down in your own end – and that's what we've been working on with him – is just make sure he has his check, make sure he pins his guy down low. If you do that and eliminate people, it just seems that you have more of the puck.
"I would like to see Nathan get his shots through on the net more. We'll continue to work on that. I think that's one way he can provide offense."
Beaulieu had 21 shots on net and 12 that had missed.
"I feel like I should be more involved offensively," Beaulieu said. "That's what I'm labeled as, an offensive guy. They brought me in to be offensive, and I've been struggling to find that.
"I'm not panicking. I'm not worried. I still fully believe in myself. Obviously, it's not the start I envisioned. You've got to remember I'm 24 years old. There's a lot of hockey left to be played. We still believe in this group, but it's tough to find confidence when the team's not winning."
It's never easy to replace a No. 1 defenseman. Justin Falk did fine.
Rasmus Ristolainen returned to the Sabres' lineup after missing nine games with an injury, bumping Falk off the top pair with Marco Scandella. Falk skated with Beaulieu.
"He's big shoes to fill," Falk said of Ristolainen. "As far as a whole D corps, we tried to weather that storm a little bit, spread it out and manage situations without him there."
Falk skated 18:30 per night on the top pair in Ristolainen's absence, an impressive promotion considering he wasn't penciled into the top six at the start of training camp.
"When you're the type of player that doesn't always know when opportunities will present themselves, you've got to keep working and come to work with a smile and work hard every day so that when something does present itself you try to take full advantage," Falk said. "I just try to compete hard and show that I can do some good work for them on the back end."
Story topics: Justin Falk