MONTREAL, QC.– “Relax, chill out,” Carey Price said following the Montreal Canadiens first pre-season game back in September where he gave up four goals on nine shots to the Boston Bruins. “We’ve got lots of time. We’re not winning the Stanley Cup in the first exhibition game.” This came after the “fans” at the Bell Center boo’ed him following the loss to Boston, and Carey Price went on to say, “It’s part of the game here. There’s nothing we can do about it but win games and make it stop.”
What’s that Carey? “There’s nothing we can do about it but win games and make it stop.”? Man of his word, he’s doing exactly that, “they” are doing exactly that. Winning.
Although there are many great stories in this early part of the season, Kostitsyn, Plekanec, Halpern and Subban to name a few, it’s without any doubt that the star of the Montreal Canadiens so far this season is Carey Price.
In 17 games this season, Carey Price is 11-5-1, playing in all games for his team with the exception of just one. He currently posts a goals against average of 2.05 and a save percentage of 0.930, sixth in the NHL in both categories. He’s tied with Sergei Bobrovsky (PHI) and Michal Neuvirth (WSH) in wins, all having 11 each. He’s second in the league with three shutouts, tied with… yes, Jaroslav Halak (STL). Tim Thomas (BOS) leads the way with four. He leads all goaltenders in ice time, having played a total of 1,022:36 so far this year.
Not bad for a goaltender who’s name did not appear on the all star ballot, yet he leads all Eastern conference goaltenders in votes?
In my last article where I compared Carey Price and Tuukka Rask, I wrote about the current success of Carey Price, and how it had a lot to do with the confidence he’s playing with this season. Now, I want to cover the technical portion of why he’s having this success.
Carey Price is a big goalie. He’s listed at 6’3”, 219lbs. When square to the puck, his body covers a big portion of the net, and when standing on top of his crease, this big body of his is able to cut off so much angle that the opposing player can practically no longer see the netting behind Price.
Price is doing this brilliantly this season, and it can often be attributed to confidence. Very often, a confident goalie will be seen standing on top of his crease, while a goalie with a weak confidence will often be seen sitting back on the goal line, therefore giving much more space to shoot at for the opposing player.
He’s aggressive, whether he’s coming out to challenge shooters, whether he’s fighting through screens to see pucks, whether he’s taking care of moving the opposing player from his field of vision in front of the net, he’s showing the signs of aggressiveness he was often faulted for not having in the past.
Carey Price has always had a laid back demeanour, it’s a part of him that will not change nor should it. But he’s bringing more fight to his game, it’s showing, and I think he understands how much it’s helping him in his current success.
Here’s a check list: His base position is solid, skates not wider then the shoulders and great flex in the knees, in an almost sitting position. His back is straight, gloves in front of his body, glove hand held high, all the little things you look for.
Because of his great base position, he’s able to generate the strength needed to get across quickly on those cross crease passes, and this is why he’s always square to the puck making saves. When he needs to go left to right, the right leg goes down, and he generates amazing push from his left leg to get across quickly to the right to make the save. He brings the left leg back perfectly to close the five hole, his stick stays on the ice, again, all the little things you look for.
If his position was higher, that would mean less flex in the knees, less push, and this is often when you see the goaltender sprawling into desperation mode. He has rarely needed to do that this season, and the one time I can remember he had to, the save he performed is currently a leading candidate for “save of the year”.
Then there’s vision. A goaltender doesn’t need to move his head from left to right to see the play, very often, they have great peripheral vision allowing to see much of the ice, without barely moving their head, or their eyes even. He seems to be in a zone right now where he’s seeing the entire play, he’s anticipating tremendously well, and he always seems to be in a perfect position to make the save.
How long is this going to last? Right now, nobody knows, not even Carey Price. For now, we seem to be witnessing the blossoming of what Carey Price really is. That great goaltender everybody was told he was going to be.
Whether you are convinced or not of Carey Price at this point, it doesn’t matter, he’s arguably the best player in the NHL right now. The Habs are winning games, and if he continues to play this way, people might stop being so surprised with the Montreal Canadiens success this season. The Habs sure will need it, especially if Markov ends up being out of the lineup as long as speculations seem to be pointing towards at the moment. Time will tell, but for now, we seems to be witnessing the redemption of Carey Price.
Read Rick’s game review of the Canadiens vs. Flyers game last night, and post-game comments by Mike Richards and P.K. Subban. Seeing how this fiasco started with Richards calling out Subban for “not showing enough respect towards veterans”, and after hearing all comments said by both, I found it oddly ironic that P.K. Subban sounded like the veteran, while Mike Richards sounded like a frustrated rookie. Sore loser? Looked like it…
In anticipation of tomorrow night’s game between the Canadiens and Nashville Predators, Rick from All Habs recently appeared on Preds on the Glass, the leading new media website in Predators-country. I invite you to read a very welcomed guest article written by Buddy Oakes, host of Preds on the Glass, as we get his view on tomorrow night’s matchup.
(Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)