The Price of a Net Presence

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Just a few months ago, Habs’ fans were pretty proud to say that Carey Price was part of their favourite team and would flash their pride to fans of any other NHL team every chance they would get. Why not? After all, he had a dream season, getting his hands on every piece of hardware available for a player in his position. That’s something to be proud of for sure.

Yet, just a few months later, a loud group of fans and bloggers are, for whatever reason (we think we know why), are trying to make you all believe that one should not use injuries, even to Price, as an excuse. But which one is it folks? Is he or is he not the team MVP, the league’s best player all positions included? Is it or is it not reasonable to expect a rookie goaltender to hold the fort for that long with Price out of the line-up? You see, you just can’t have it both ways.

PRICE CAN’T SCORE

No, he cannot do that, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it at some point in his career. But if those bloggers are as knowledgeable as they claim to be, wouldn’t they know what Price means to the team, aside from stopping pucks? Allow me to shine a bit of light on what this guy represents to the Habs, if I may.

Leadership

Teams cannot give the captaincy to the goaltender and even if they try, it rapidly escalates to a gong show (see Roberto Luongo in Vancouver). If they could, you can bet your house that Price would be wearing the “C” on this team. He is the undeniable leader amongst a young group of leaders who are learning the ropes in a market like Montreal, where being reasonable is too often out of the question. Not being with the players day-to-day, in the dressing room for practices and games does have an effect.

Goaltending

That’s a point that everyone knows and can acknowledge. He is the best at his position. He is cool, calm and collected no matter the situation and that reflects not only in his play, but on his teammates. The Canadiens are more comfortable with Price in net. They take more chances on offense, they often out-number the opposition in the defensive zone knowing full well that if the puck comes out, Carey can bail them out. They can play a high-risk, high-reward style and the defensemen aren’t afraid to pinch in to better support the attack. Just as important, few are better than Price at rebound control. In fact, not only does him make the saves, but he rarely gives up second chances. Last but not least, we know how important it is to play with the lead in this league and Price gives the team that opportunity every single night. Even if they allow the first goal, they know how hard it will be for the opposition to score another one so they can keep on pressing without a worry. That is huge.

Breakout system

Michel Therrien’s system is based on Carey Price and by that, I mean that when a puck is dumped in, Price plays most of them. Because of his high stick handling abilities, the defensemen trust that he can make a pass and peel off to opposite corners to give him an option. If a forechecker is too aggressive, they will fly at 5 on 4 at the other end. Price will also make outlet passes to the wingers and will even do the stretch pass if the opponent isn’t paying attention. Right now, without him, defensemen have to play that puck behind the net, having to play a more orthodox style which they are not used to and which is not as efficient for them, for the wingers and for the team in general.

No, Price can’t score. He can provide leadership and confidence, prevent goals, help generate offense with a better transition and breakouts, control the game and get in the opponents’ head, like Patrick Roy and Dominic Hasek used to do. He gives his team a chance to win every night and when the team takes the lead, when the opponents are forced to press, the Canadiens have such a good transition game and such speed that often, the puck is heading the other way with a two-on-one, resulting in… more goals and better leads.

So you know who you are. It’s time for you to stop the propaganda in this lame attempt to prove yourselves right in wanting to get Michel Therrien fire and make the team you supposedly cheer for look bad. Move on and rally behind them instead. Go Habs Go!

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