Last year Carey Price was good. He was above league average on a terrible team that bled scoring chances in all situations. But his numbers didn't stand up to the previous year.
With the shortened schedule, we can expect Price to play as many or more games than Patrick Roy played for Montreal in 1994-95, leaving Peter Budaj on the bench for most of the year.
A goalie like Price behind your skaters for 43+ games out of 48 can do a lot as confidence goes. Olivier likes to observe that when Price is in net, you often forget you have a goaltender until you watch someone else play and wonder why they're flailing around all the time. He's so smooth, so calm, you just expect every shot to be stopped. Maybe that's why he's taken so much abuse in this town.
But what can we expect from him this season? Michel Therrien has previously had career years from goaltenders, including the only significantly above average year from Marc-Andre Fleury ever, and a Hart and Vezina Trophy winning season for Jose Theodore.
Is this just luck, or is it something about Therrien's system that helps a goaltender get to that next step? It's an interesting question to ponder, and one our own Chris Boyle is planning to take special note of this season.
For the record, Chris has predicted that the Canadiens netminder will win the Vezina this season. So much for the diminished expectations the rest of the team gets this year, Carey.
What say you, EOTP? As Price enters the prime age range of goaltenders, is he going to push himself into that top spot in the league and justify his new contract with an exclamation point? Or does he stay in the same range as he has been the last two years, solidly pushing the top 5, but not in awards range?