Ask anyone who has played for the Montreal Canadiens and they will say that Carey Price is without a doubt one of the leaders, if not the leader, of the team.
In public, however, we rarely see that side of the goaltender. On Monday night, during and after Montreal’s 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 3 of their series, we caught a glimpse of what usually happens behind closed doors.
During a TV timeout, Price went to the bench and could be seen talking to the team on the bench. Shortly after, Nick Suzuki scored the team’s only goal.
In addition to that, he also used his post-game media availability to proclaim the confidence he has in the team. Price was asked by Alexis Bélanger-Champagne about his level of frustration that the team has scored only four goals in three playoff games, reminiscent of past playoff teams Price has backstopped.
Price, who chooses his answers very carefully — especially after losses — didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“I’m not frustrated at all, to be honest,” he said. “These guys are talented guys. I see their shots in practice every day. I have no doubt that they have the ability to score goals. They’re trying out there, I know they are. It’s going to come. They’re playing some pretty solid defence on their side, but we’re going to find a way through that.”
There are times where it looks like the Canadiens are lacking confidence, whether it’s trying to be too fine, or opting to pass up shooting opportunities. When one of the best goaltenders in the league tells you that you could score, maybe it lets you hold your stick a little looser. Maybe it has you stand a bit taller.
“It’s huge,” Shea Weber said about his goaltender’s public displays of leadership. “For him to step up and say something like that, that he believes in the guys, it will give them confidence and give us confidence to hopefully break through going forward.”
There may be a side of desperation that goes with Price showing more public displays of leadership, but with a rare playoff back-to-back, everyone — including head coach Dominique Ducharme — knows they can count on Price.
When asked whether he goes back to Price in Game 4, Ducharme had a bit of a smirk before a quick answer, and a nod.
You didn’t even have to hear him saying “Yeah” in order to know what the answer was.