The simplest explanation is usually the correct one.
That's not fair. Price is clearly using magic at this point. pic.twitter.com/2PGsq05QhI— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) March 20, 2017
The Canadiens completed a weekend sweep of the Ottawa Senators on Sunday at the Centre Bell with a 4-1 victory. Countering Guy Boucher’s decision to start Craig Anderson in back-to-back games, Claude Julien gave Carey Price a second consecutive start after Saturday’s shootout win in Ottawa.
Sunday’s victory didn’t require any late heroics by Price. Instead, they happened in the second period.
With the teams battling 4-on-4, Dion Phaneuf (2) draws Philip Danault behind the net, then feeds Eric Karlsson (65) on his right, just above the goal line. Alexander Radulov takes an inside angle, but Karlsson turns to the outside and speeds up the ice, pulling away from Radulov and Danault.
Karlsson drives center blue line before flipping a backhand to the dangerous Mike Hoffman (68) on the right wing.
Karlsson then continues on a straight path to the net. He comes to a hard stop just to Price’s left, widening his visual presence with a snow spray nearly as big as Brendan Gallagher.
Meanwhile, Hoffman shows as if he is going to shoot, but instead rips a cross ice pass between the layers of the Habs’ defense to Kyle Turris (7) on the left wing.
Turris releases a low one-timer.
Price extends across to his right, and makes the save with his toe.
That’s what happened. Now for the fun part.
Price begins square to Hoffman, who is a dangerous shooter.
At Hoffman’s shot fake, Price begins to drop into a half butterfly with his right pad, and moves slightly to his right. He is fully defending any shot attempt by Hoffman.
Price’s head appears to follow the puck across the ice when Hoffman makes his pass, but his right pad continues to drop into a half-butterfly, and his shoulders remain square to Hoffman.
As Turris receives the puck, Price raises his left knee and engages his left inside edge, gathering his energy into his left leg for a powerful push.
He continues to rotate his shoulders and upper body to his left, leveraging against his left leg and skate.
From above, it’s possible to see the direction of his head, as well as the degree to which he has wound his upper body.
From this position, Price actually has a choice.
He can unwind his upper body and push across the crease with his stick and blocker out in front of his body. This would allow him more effective coverage of the mid- and upper portions of the net on his blocker side, with a single upper body movement to his right. Often, however, this results in a two-part movement of the supporting pad. Price’s right foot might move backward in response to his fast upper body rotation, allowing a split second for the puck to pass by before he can re-extend his leg.
The other option is to do what he does here, which, frankly, appears to be much more physically difficult.
Rather than rotate and push across the crease with his upper body forward, he uses his leverage and body position to extend his right skate as far across to his right as he can.
It’s just far enough.
At the maximal extension of his right leg, Price’s upper body remains virtually unchanged from its coiled position.
After the save, his hips uncoil, allowing his left leg to release toward his right, and his upper body to fall straight forward.
Every night, goalies across the NHL make dramatic saves, driving across from one side of the crease to the other in response to cross ice passes. Price, though, appears to make strategic decisions where others might be in desperation mode.
In February, we looked at his remarkable end-of-regulation save on the Rangers’ J.T. Miller (here).
On these saves, along with Sunday’s against Turris, Price utilizes three completely different save techniques. Against Nash in 2015, he changed his angle of attack in mid-push and exploded out toward the shooter. Against Miller, he launched himself across the middle of the net, adjusting his glove position in midair. On this one, Price extends out his right skate to rob Turris, after accounting for Hoffman’s primary shot threat.
As with the other saves, there is a moment of “decision” on Sunday. When Price is fully loaded on his left skate, this is the view from the camera within the net. The puck is along the ice and heading just outside Markov’s right skate (red arrow). Price can see the puck, and the shot trajectory. When he uses his leveraged power to maximally extend his right leg, thereby sacrificing coverage against anything over a foot off the ice, it appears to be by choice, based on what he sees at this moment.
In other words, this isn't desperation at all. Price doesn’t commit to a move across the crease until after Turris has released his shot. His patience and confidence allow him to choose how to make this incredible save.
Whether the choice is conscious or subconscious doesn’t really matter. This sequence is just another example of Carey Price’s goaltending mastery.
Of course, there’s always the other possibility.