May 20, 2009, 4:00 AM EDT
The Habs may have scored over 240 goals in 2008-09, but the fans have spoken and the canadiens.com Play of Year is a beauty of a save by newly-crowned champ Carey Price.
Flashing the leather in the face of Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke, the All-Star goaltender brought his A-Game into the annual showdown. Facing some stiff competition in the form of toe drags, dangles and backhand dekes, Price’s glove hand all but catapulted the sophomore netminder straight into the finals.
The Best of the Best
Carey Price now joins Andrei Kostitsyn as a canadiens.com Play of the Year champion.
2008-09 Carey Price
2007-08 Andrei Kostitsyn
The first challenger to throw his hat into the ring was underdog Mike Komisarek, whose bone-crunching bodycheck on Tampa Bay’s Evgeny Artyukhin left the Lightning winger peeling himself off the ice in late January. While the hit sent the Bell Centre crowd into a frenzy at the time, it wasn’t enough to edge out Price’s 88.9% of first round votes.
After sidestepping past the Habs’ bruising blue-liner to kick off the competition, Price’s highlight reel save headed into the quarterfinals as a heavy favorite. With a last minute dangle through almost the entire L.A. Kings roster, Christopher Higgins lit the lamp behind Jonathan Quick to even the score at 3. Despite his offensive spark, Canadiens fans opted instead to give props for solid work in the D zone, sending the New Yorker packing with just 36% of the votes in the second round.
After seeing two young vets fall to the wayside, rookie Matt D’Agostini gave it his best shot in Round 3, where Price again picked up two-thirds of the votes over the young forward’s dazzling breakaway marker. Not even Robert Lang’s veteran experience could will the 38-year-old past the young All Star in the following round, when his second of two goals against the Rangers lost out with just 35.3% of votes in the semifinals.
With the table set for the final, Price squared off against Habs sniper Alex Tanguay for the top prize. Posting a sequence of shifty moves and sleight of hand, the Ste-Justine native launched a picture-perfect shot past Atlanta’s Kari Lehtonen, making his case for the crown. Entering the POY tourney as the No. 2 seed, Tanguay finally met his match in the Anahim Lake, B.C. native in the final. Thanks to your votes, the 2008-09 Molson Cup champion Carey Price can now add a Play of the Year title to his mantle back home.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com