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He’s Back!

Price’s movements during his debut last week indicates the netminder is feeling pretty good.

NHL: New York Islanders at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Carey Price gave us the quote to end all quotes today when he said; “I want to finish playing at an acceptable level — I don’t know how long that is but at the end of the day, I want to be able to say I left the game playing well and not being a burden”.

It must be really hard to make a quote like that not sound like a pun when your name is Carey Price. For example, he couldn’t say, “I don’t want to be carried”. A quote like that would have too high of a Price.

I had the good fortune of being at the New York Islanders game on Friday and it was my two-year-old daughter's first hockey game. I’m not a hugely emotional person but I was surprised by how much it hit me to join the chorus chanting “Carey, Carey, Carey” for the first time this year.

If that got me a little emotional then my daughter made it worse when she misheard the crowd and she started chanting “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy”.

With the obligatory joking aside, Carey’s quote reminded me of another famous Montreal Canadiens goaltender who retired at 37 (coincidentally that’s one year younger than Carey Price will be when his contract expires).

In Mystery Goalie B’s last year in the NHL he played 65 games and posted a .920 with five shutouts. One could say that he went out on his own terms as he clearly had more to give posting numbers like that.

I’m speaking, of course, about Patrick Roy who didn’t finish his career with the Canadiens but, of course, was a member of the Colorado Avalanche at the time.

Pride is an important thing for professional athletes. An argument could be made that it’s important for goalies most of all. The main difference between goalies and every other player on the team is that when a goalie puts on their gloves the game is in them. No singular position decides the outcome of a game more than a goaltender.

Because of this the question is not “are goalies conceited” but rather “how conceited are goaltenders”?

When it comes to Price’s play, Friday was an encouraging night for me. I wasn’t too worried about the knees because a sports physio friend of mine told me that the surgery to repair meniscal tears is often very successful.

The two concerns I had were scar tissue in the knee leading to pain and hip mobility. The latter because there have been rumours of lingering hip issues. I’m no doctor and can’t ask Price how he’s feeling but from what I saw those hips were moving like Elvis.

A good indicator of how those hips and knees were moving was how he got in and out of the RVH. For the uninitiated, the RVH is the post position that looks like the butterfly but you’re loaded up on one post. One of the most difficult moves to make for your hips is when you pivot from being “out” in the RVH and then moving back to the goal line.

The reason for this is in order to pivot back you have to put your leg extremely far forward and then use your skate blade as a rudder so that when you push to the side it sends your momentum back. Check out this clip of Price the other night and judge for yourself how his movements look.

The one issue that I did notice with Price is that he wasn’t holding his edges well. I can already hear the chorus of people saying “he always goes down early” but in my humble opinion, he doesn’t do it more than any other goalie in the league.

Often when I hear him criticized for going down early it has more to do with seeing through a screen or it simply wasn’t early at all. But, the fact that he was going down early the other night is actually a positive thing.

So, here’s my wildly oversimplified logic. If you hesitate going down it could indicate pain and if you go down too early it could indicate fatigue. Obviously, there are a ton of other reasons but I’m just throwing out the most common reasons.

Price has been off for a long time; first for personal reasons and then for injury. It wouldn’t be surprising if his conditioning wasn’t the best (he’s not really known for his conditioning anyway).

So the fact that he was going down early indicates that he was probably suffering more fatigue than pain.

This bodes well for the immediate future, but what about the long term? The truth is that no one really knows. But, despite the score, Price’s play gave me a good feeling that he will indeed have a chance to go out on his own terms.

For a person that’s fought as hard as he has and has given many of us some of our favourite playoff memories, that makes me happy. Bonne chance, Carey!