September 22nd. Habs vs. Bruins. The first pre-season game of the year at the Bell Center. Carey Price started his first game as the undisputed No. 1 in Montreal. A lot of fans however still longed for playoff hero Jaroslav Halak, who got traded to the St. Louis Blues. Nobody knew how the fans would react to Price’s start, but we would soon find out.
The first period got underway. Price let in Nathan Horton’s first shot 1:33 in. He was then beaten on three of the Bruins’ first five shots. The Habs lost 4-2. The aftermath? He was booed by the Bell Centre crowd and jeered every time he made a save. Even though this was a meaningless game, and even though this was pre-season, the Montreal crowd didn’t seem to care.
During post-game in the locker room, Price was nowhere to be found. He wasn’t available to talk to the media. There was yet another reason to criticize. Let’s just say that wasn’t a start the fans wanted to see.
September 23rd. Price’s message to the fans: “Relax, chill out, we have lots of time. We’re not winning the Stanley Cup in the first exhibition game.” He wasn’t kidding.
Well, that’s all in the past now. This is the present. A month after the “incident,” Price’s message to the fans was heard loud and clear. And boy, what a difference a month makes.
Now let’s fast forward to October 30th. The Habs lost 3-1 to the Florida Panthers, but no boos were heard. Chants of “Carey! Carey! Carey!” echoed all night. Even with the loss, he was solid and the fans knew that.
Apart from the first pre-season game vs. Boston, that’s how the atmosphere has been at the Bell Centre — welcoming, positive, and loud. All for Carey Price. He has started every single home game so far and there’s no sign of him slowing down anytime soon.
Price’s record so far is 6-3-1. He has a save percentage of .912% (which doesn’t do him justice), and goals against average of 2.38. And let’s add one shutout, his first since November 2008.
To put into perspective how impressive Price has been so far, he only needs seven more wins to surpass his 13 wins of last season. The good news? There’s 71 games left for him to accomplish that.
Now I don’t know about you, but I’d say that’s a pretty solid start. Especially coming from someone with such pressure and expectations, to put that all aside and just perform to his potential we all know he has. And the fans certainly have approved.
I’m very proud of the way Price has started this season and I’m proud of how the fans have been showing their support for him. Certainly the players in the locker room are not surprised by his performance, and I’m not either.
What I’ve stated above is the reason why fans shouldn’t boo a player during the first pre-season game. All you need is patience and look where that will take you. Look where it got Price in only a month’s time. He is now the perfect example of how one game does not define a season.
With that being said, let all my fellow Price supporters over the past two years stand and be recognized for their patience and loyalty. And to all the nay-sayers who were so quick to try and run him out of town and throw the blame on him for practically everything that went wrong with this team, take a good look at yourself. I hope your views on him are different now.
And by now you know, Carey Price has proved a lot of those nay-sayers wrong and is continuing to do so with every game he plays.
Here’s to an even better November.
(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)