Carey Price rose to the occasion against the Devils, even if the Habs didn’t
Despite taking a loss, Carey Price looked like himself on Sunday.
It has not been an easy year for Carey Price in Montreal. He’s had various injuries, including a scary concussion after taking a shot to the mask. Even when he’s been healthy, he hasn’t performed up to the level he knows he’s capable of. Part of that is due to one of the league’s worst penalty kills, and another chunk of it due missing a number of star players, but at the end of the day, it’s been a season to forget for Price.
He’ll pass Jacques Plante for the most games played in Montreal Canadiens history by the end of this season, and it’s been a long ride for Price since he walked onto that draft stage in 2005.
Against the New Jersey Devils it looked like the Price that fans have come to know over the years: calm and cool in net, making timely saves and allowing no rebound chances. Nico Hischier’s goal came on a deflection through traffic, something the Habs have struggled to defend against all season. While Taylor Hall’s game-winner came on a clear breakaway, and with Hall being the elite sniper that he is, Price was always going to be at a disadvantage.
Facing down five power plays, the Devils got few dangerous chances on Price, and if a puck did make it through it was kicked out of harm’s way or swallowed up with ease. Even if things got hairy, Price was there to glove pucks away from Devils players, or blocker them out of danger. In short, he looked more like the Carey Price the Habs will need next year.
Though much like the Habs from recent years, Price’s strong start was undone by the offence failing to generate more than a single goal, even with an extended 5-on-3 power play in the third. The goalies can’t score goals (unless you’re Alex Nedeljkovic), but a loss in this game shouldn’t take away from what was a sight for sore eyes in Habs Nation.
Things are only going to improve next year. Price won’t post numbers like this, and the penalty-killing units can’t possibly be any worse. If the last two games were any indication, worrying about one of the best goalies on the planet being washed up was an overblown bit of nonsense.