It has not been easy sailing in recent weeks for the Montreal Canadiens. The team has had the flu bug rip through it, while they play one of the hardest schedules of any NHL club in a close playoff race. Against the New York Islanders, the offensive struggles were at the forefront once again, failing to find any semblance of consistent effort, and it wasted what was an incredible game by Carey Price.
Price faced 38 shots from the Islanders, and stopped 36 of them in a game where he carried the load until the team in front of him woke from their shambling comatose state. Without him in net, this game almost assuredly would have gone pear-shaped rather quickly, but the Canadiens’ all-time wins leader kept his team in it early on. For his efforts, Price got one total goal of support, and it’s hard to win games against a top team in the conference with that sort of assistance.
Per Natural Stat Trick at five-on-five last night, Price faced 40 Islanders scoring chances (Montreal had 22), and 18 high-danger chances (to his team’s eight). To allow just two goals is nothing short of incredible.
It’s hard to hang the last goal on him, given it was a two-on-one, and he still nearly got his blocker on it in his desperate lunge to cover the net.
The Islanders lived right in front of the Canadiens’ net, but Price was absolutely an equalizer in that regard, turning in what was truly a vintage Carey Price performance.
In the early parts of the season, Price struggled and the offence was there to pick him up. Now the roles are flipped, but the wins and points have gone missing more often than not lately.
This team is in a ridiculously close battle for a playoff spot. To waste valuable performances like this is crippling for that playoff push. Whether it’s shuffling lines or shaking things up, Claude Julien has to figure it out sharpish, as he and the Canadiens cannot afford to keep wasting starts of this quality from their goaltender.