There’s no denying that Carey Price hasn’t had the best first quarter of the season he could hope for. While he hasn’t been costing the team games, he just hasn’t been up to the standard he’s established in his tenure with the Montreal Canadiens. With the Canadiens scoring at will early in the season, it didn’t matter at first, but it became more apparent due to their recent struggles on offence.
With Jake Allen providing some impressive relief on Price’s nights off, there has been some chatter around the fan base of a potential controversy. It hasn’t been an unfounded discussion, as there is legitimate argument that Allen has been the better of the two, albeit through a smaller sample size.
That talk may not be dead, but it should quiet down a little after Price’s performance against the Leafs on Saturday.
Following an early goal by Mitch Marner, Price shut the door with authority. He looked calm, well positioned, and every bit of his usual style where he can make even hard saves look easy. And he needed to be, since the Leafs were swarming him for the better part of the first 60 minutes.
The Leafs controlled 54.55% of scoring chances and 63.33% of high-danger chances through the first two periods. If Price didn’t play the way he did, the game easily could have been out of reach by the time the Habs woke up and began generating chances of their own in the third. They played a fantastic third period, but they have to thank their goaltender for giving them the chance for that to matter.
In the previous game against Toronto, there were a few goals that he would probably stop on his best night. Again, when the Habs were scoring five goals every game he could get away with that, but now the offense has at least temporarily dried up. Until and unless the team can open the flood gates again, last night’s Price is what they’ll need, particularly against teams like Toronto.
They’ll need their starting goaltender to steal a few games. Last night, he did. If he can continue playing like that moving forward, it would go a long way to silencing the talk about Allen taking the lead for good, and an even longer way to getting these Canadiens where they want to be.
And we know what he has the ability to do, should they get there.