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Carey Price amazes with simplicity

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Price’s game-winning save against the Flyers was simpler than it looked, but just as amazing

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Carey Price dropped a beauty of a save on Monday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, letting Canadiens fans know that his knee is healthy and his rust is gone.

EOTP editor Marc Dumont was appropriately enthusiastic:

Paul Campbell of InGoal Magazine suggested that Price might have supernatural powers:

Here’s the full play:

With the Habs clinging to a 2-1 lead, Sean Couturier (14) battles Shea Weber for the puck into the offensive left face-off circle. Couturier is unable to get off a shot due to Weber’s excellent stick work, but the defenceman’s clearing attempt goes directly to Philadelphia’s Shane Gostisbehere (53) at the blue line.

“Ghost” walks in slightly, and as soon as there are multiple bodies in front of Price, including Couturier, he attempts to thread a shot between Alexei Emelin and Tomas Plekanec. He’s a pretty crafty shooter, and may well be aiming for a deflection by his teammate. The puck deflects off of Plekanec’s left leg in the high slot before it ever reaches Couturier, completely redirecting from the far post to the near post.

Price makes what appears at first to be a phenomenal left pad save and recovery.

Video actually shows that the puck hits Price’s glove, not his left pad. After the game, Price confirmed this. It really doesn’t matter. This puck never has a chance to go in. For Carey Price, this is fundamental business as usual, right from the beginning.

When Weber’s clearing attempt is intercepted at the point, Price performs a T-push that takes him from the middle right crease to a top left position.

His depth is important to note. He hasn't charged out “on top of the blue paint,” as certain TV announcers are fond of saying. He is still within his crease.

This slightly less aggressive depth allows him to defend the initial shot from the point, but it also gives him an extra split second to react to any chaos resulting from the considerable traffic in front of him in the slot. Just as important, Carey’s reduced travel distance to this position insures that he is fully set in his stance when Ghost’s shot is released.

The puck is initially heading toward his right, and Price begins to extend his right pad and blocker. The puck deflects off Plekanec’s leg, and heads to Price’s left instead.

His head continues to turn to the right, because he was expecting to watch the puck onto his blocker.

His head is actually rotated all the way to the right when the puck hits his glove.

After contact, he turns his head to his left and kicks out his left pad in an attempt to clear the puck wide to his left, but the rebound is already several feet away from him.

He follows up by extending his body to place first his glove, and then his stick, along the ice in order to keep Couturier from guiding the loose puck inside the post. He also has timely help from Emelin, who prevents the Flyers forward from ever controlling the rebound.

Every night in the NHL, goalies throw a pad out to block a deflection, or somehow get a glove or stick on a puck it looks like they have no chance to stop. This save is exactly the opposite. This save happens because Carey Price does almost nothing, and he does it perfectly.

Watch his jersey numbers from behind. They're nearly completely still until the puck hits his glove, even though he extends his blocker to the expected line of the original shot.

This upper body stability does a couple of important things.

First, it keeps his overall field of vision directed toward the ice in front of him as long as possible. This allows him to see that the original shot is deflected. He confirms this in his post game interview as well, when he nonchalantly, but pretty specifically, says that the puck hit “a shin pad.” His head may be turning toward the right, but he knows that the puck is heading left.

Second, his center of gravity remains neutral, over the middle of his stance. His shoulders never rotate to the right, nor does he shift his core. From overhead, it’s clear that both his glove and his left pad have the shot angle covered throughout the entire sequence.

Finally, a little more about that glove. Price holds it just over his left pad, facing the release point of the original shot, and keeps it in that position until the instant it’s hit by the puck. His glove doesn't rotate or twist, nor does he try to move it in response to the accidental redirection. He can’t catch the deflected shot cleanly, but the placement and angle of his glove hand allows for a controlled, visible rebound.

This is one of the most dramatic saves that we’ll see all season. It’s also one of the simplest. That’s not surprising to Habs fans, who already know that when it comes to Carey Price, simple is often amazing.