PRE-SEASON Game 6: Montreal 1 Boston 2 (Bell Centre)
MONTREAL, QC. — The Canadiens couldn’t add to their pre-season win total on Monday night but there was something positive that the Bell Centre faithful took away from the game. It wasn’t only that their beloved team had made more of a match against their hated rivals on the second night of back-to-back games after the pasting they received in Halifax at the hands of the Bruins on Sunday night. It wasn’t just the play of the Habs youngsters, who in their last game before the roster cuts, showed glimpses of what they can bring to the team in the season to come.
No, it was the message of their All-Star goaltender, who declared “I’m ready.” It was not a post-game statement to the media by Carey Price, but instead an unspoken declaration delivered by his game performance.
Price didn’t shut-out the Bruins nor fill a highlight reel with spectacular saves. But there was a definite difference in his game — his focus, his demeanour — that signaled the Vezina-calibre goalie is shutting down ‘Training Camp Carey.’ Price was solid and the only reason it was a one-goal game as he backstopped a team with only six NHL regulars in front of him.
“Maybe it was seeing a Boston uniform, and it just rolled the clock back a bit. It’s a long camp, and it was only a matter of time before you start feeling good.” — Carey Price
The pre-season chatter has been about “A comeback year for Scott Gomez,” “The impact of Erik Cole,” “Will P.K. Subban battle the sophmore jinx,” and “The health of Andrei Markov.” But there is no more important player on this roster than Price. The Montreal Canadiens are Carey Price’s team — and they will go as far as he can take them this season.
As I watched Price make one of his 30 saves in the game, I couldn’t help thinking that former Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey must be very proud. Facing a tidal wave of criticism from the Montreal media and fans like, Gainey stood by Price. And he was right.
“I think that Carey Price is a thoroughbred. And if I was playing against him I would think, ‘Man that’s a good goalie. Look at him, the way he plays.’” — Bob Gainey, April 23, 2009
These days, players, coaches, general managers and analysts around the league concur, Price is one of a handful of elite goaltenders in the NHL, and just may be at the top of the list.
Plus / Minus
▲ Carey Price: He was the best player on the ice. Price’s movements were quick and fluid. His positioning was exceptional.
▲ Brendan Gallagher: He has been creating scoring chances like no one else in the lineup. It’s only a matter of time before iron becomes twine.
▲ Josh Gorges: He led all Canadiens in ice-time with 22:36 and looks stronger. With Markov and Subban injured, Gorges could be the go-to defenseman when the season begins.
▲ Jarred Tinordi: He played a solid game, being particularly effective using his size and reach to keep opposing forwards to the outside.
▲ Alain Berger and Michael Blunden: Both young players drove to the net and used their size to create space.
► Raphael Diaz: He had his best game of the pre-season and was much improved in his own zone. He still requires significant time at the AHL-level to be game ready. Inexcusably, Diaz stood by as Price was flattened in the crease by Gregory Campbell.
► Gabriel Dumont: He had strong game in the offensive zone with an aggressive forecheck. Dumont was an agitator towards Mialn Lucic all game long. But Dumont was suspect in his own zone, missing the coverage on Tyler Seguin that led to the Bruins first goal of the game.
▼ Jaroslav Spacek: The new and improved Spacek may be more lean, but he also seems to fatigue quicker. His pre-season play suggests that he may not be an everyday NHL player this season.
The Canadiens will spend the next two days practising before facing the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre on Thursday night.
All Habs game stars
1. Carey Price
2. Brendan Gallagher
3. Josh Gorges
Category: Game review