MONTREAL, QC. — It would be fair to say that nobody quite knew what to expect from Carey Price coming into the 2010-11 NHL season. Here we had a 23 year old goaltender who season prior, had been relegated to the role of second, and warmed the bench during the majority of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He was coming off of a season where he hadn’t necessarily played all that bad, but was none the less a season filled with frustration, seeing Carey Price struggle to put up numbers in the win column.
In the offseason, Pierre Gauthier did a move that without a doubt would split the city, trading away Jaroslav Halak to St-Louis Blues, and combined with the signing of Alex Auld, it was clear that Carey Price would be the number one guy this season, pretty much no matter what.
The start of the preseason was just about a worst case scenario start for Carey Price. He basically let in a soft goal, on his very first shot, in his very first game at the Bell Centre and that’s all it took for some of the fans to start booing. He would go on to give up 10 goals, stopping 30 of 40 shots in his first two starts, nothing to reassure anyone. Carey Price would come out to face the cameras with his now famous, “Relax, chill out” statement, going on to say “we have lots of time.”
This all seems to add even more to the fairly tale of a season that Carey Price would go on to have. In his first 26 starts, Carey Price put up a record of 17 wins, 7 losses and 2 overtime losses. During this period, his goals against average (GAA) was a minute 2.06 and his save percentage (Sv%) was an impressive 0.937. He also had four shots over this stretch. Reassured? Yes we are.
He would represent the Team Staal at the 2011 NHL All Star Game, making some impressive saves, stopping 13 of 16 shots he faced in a rather difficult period. Team Lidstrom would go on to win the game 11-10.
Like all teams, the Montreal Canadiens had a couple of slumps during their season, some longer than others. Carey Price still managed to finish the season as strongly as he started it.
Carey Price – 2010-11 Regular Season
Wins: 38 (1st)
GAA: 2.35 (8th)
Sv%: 0.923 (6th)
Shut Outs: 8 (3rd)
Time On Ice: 3,589:39 (2nd)
He would be as impressive in the first round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins, finishing the series with an obvious record of 3 wins and 4 losses, but with very impressive numbers.
Carey Price – 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Shut Outs: 1
His numbers were impressive from the start of the season, to the end of the playoffs, but his play itself was spectacular, often times, in a none-spectacular fashion. Before we get to his play, let’s start with his attitude, which changed in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Carey Price approached this season without trying to put behind what happend last season. While many would have tried to simply forget what happened in what many categorize as a disaster season for him, he came in with the attitude that he was going to use that, as a learning experience to make himself a better goaltender. He admitted it himself, that he realized in last year’s playoffs, that he needed to work harder, and practice better, and that’s all he’s done since.
With a better attitude, and much better work habits, he started getting better results. It showed in simple ways, such as in his responses to the media. Last season, he found himself constantly having to defend himself, and explain why he wasn’t getting the victories. This season, he found himself talking about his players. Even though he was the number one reason the Montreal Canadiens got any success this season, he rarely spoke of himself, but always talked about how great his players were in front of him. A true sign of maturity and leadership, one we hadn’t seen all that much in the past.
His play on the ice is difficult to put into words. As someone who’s played the goaltending position for over 20 years, to watch Carey Price play hockey, is something I feel blessed to be to do. His technique, combined with his size and strength, allow him to move every so fluidly across his creese, constantly square to the puck. In situations where other goalies find themselves lunging their entire bodies in a “last ditch attempt” to stop the puck, Carey Price is square to the puck making difficult saves look ever so easy.
His poise in the net is reassuring. He constantly appears to be in control, and no longer appears to be that fragile goaltender that could see one goal put him off his game.
His rebound control has improved tremendously, he swallows pucks. As impressive as Halak’s 40+ save performances were in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, and to this day, I tip my hat off to him for that, Carey Price’s abilities to control rebounds, and also play the puck outside of his net allow him to keep his shot total lower than other goaltenders, a detail that often goes unnoticed.
All of this said, it would have been great for Carey Price to have his name nominated for either the Vezina or Hart trophies. Personally, I think it’s okay that he wasn’t, and I say this because I do believe that all players nominated in both categories are deserving of their nominations. As a fan of the Montreal Canadiens, and of Carey Price, I feel that because of the tremendous season he’s had, and everything that he had to overcome, it feels unfair that he is not receiving any award. The reality is, everyone in the league saw, and knows what Carey Price did this season, and he doesn’t need an award to prove that to anyone. I’m confident he will see his fair share of awards in the future.
Carey Price, cheers to what is hopefully many more great seasons to come in the future, and to this one, a season definitely worth remembering.