Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price has a reputation as a very calm person with an easy going attitude that will prepare him well for the type of game he is going to play tonight.
The Canadiens have lost three of their last four games in the Atlantic Division Final series against the Boston Bruins, and now trail three games to two. Tonight, the Habs have their backs against the wall as it is a win or the season ends scenario.
Price should instill confidence in this situation as he is known to be cool under pressure, so let’s take a look back at the elimination games he has already competed in during his NHL career.
April 21 2008. Boston Bruins vs Montreal Canadiens. Round 1, Game 7.
Price’s first do or die game in the NHL came against the very team he will face tonight, the Boston Bruins. It was his rookie season of 2007-08 and the 1st place Habs were heavily favored to defeat the 8th seeded Bruins.
The series went the distance and Price was perfect, stopping all 25 shots he faced en route to a 5-0 win. You could not ask for a better game in such a tough situation from a 20 year old rookie netminder.
Obviously this put his record in win or go home games to 1-0, and he posted a 0.00 goals against average (GAA) and 1.000 save percentage (SV%).
May 3 2008. Philadelphia Flyers vs Montreal Canadiens. Round 2, Game 5.
Still in Price’s rookie season, the Habs were on the ropes at home against the Philadelphia Flyers, a team ironically led by current Hab healthy scratch Daniel Briere.
The Canadiens led the game 3-1 late in the second period, but a flurry of goals from the Flyers gave them the lead before heading to the third period. The Habs quickly tied the game at four but it wasn’t enough, as Price allowed his fifth goal of the game late in the third period, and the Flyers would add an empty netter and win 6-4.
Price stopped 31 of 36 shots he faced in the game, dropping his SV% in elimination games to .918 and bringing his GAA to 2.51. More importantly, his record became 1-1.
April 22 2009. Boston Bruins vs Montreal Canadiens. Round 1, Game 4.
The Canadiens were supposed to be a great team during their Centennial season of 2008-09. They were far from it, and barely made the postseason, clinging to the 8th and final playoff berth and facing the Bruins once again in the opening round.
Boston had a fantastic regular season and kept the pedal to the floor in a four game sweep of the Habs in the opening round series.
Down 3-0 in the series and with their backs against the wall, the Habs more or less rolled over in Game 4. They found themselves down 4-0 midway through the second period, and would lose the game 4-1.
Price played the whole game, faced 30 shots and stopped 26 of them. His new numbers in eliminations games became: 3.01 GAA, .890 SV% and a 1-2 record.
April 26 2011. Boston Bruins vs Montreal Canadiens. Round 1, Game 6.
The Canadiens headed home for Game 6 on a three game losing streak and needed to put an end to it or the series would be over. Montreal was able to claw out a 2-1 win at the Bell Centre on the back of a very strong performance from Carey Price.
Price faced 32 shots in the game, stopping all but one, and carried the 2011 Habs to a Game 7. Oddly, both Habs goals came on 5 on 3 advantages, but the Bruins were unable to solve Price on their four power plays.
Price improved his do or die game numbers to a 2.51 GAA, .919 SV% and a 2-2 record.
April 27 2011. Montreal Canadiens vs Boston Bruins. Round 1, Game 7.
One day after a huge Game 6 victory where Price made 31 saves in a 2-1 game, the Habs headed to Boston for a 7th game. Price got off to a slow start, allowing two goals in the first 5:33 of the game. He settled in the rest of the way and gave the Habs a chance to come back and send the game to overtime.
Nathan Horton ended the game on a long shot that was tipped in off a Montreal Canadien skate, and gave the Bruins a 4-3 victory, and sent them to the second round.
Price stopped 30 of 34 shots he faced in the game, and played very well after allowing two quick goals. His record in elimination games dropped to 2-3, and his GAA became 2.76 and his SV% is now .911 in games that the Habs had to win to stay alive.
Strangely, four of those five games were played against the Bruins, who Price will face tonight, and four of his five elimination games have been on home ice, like he will be tonight in Game 6.
Price has a chance to improve his elimination game record back to .500 tonight when the Canadiens host the Bruins at the Bell Centre. Both of his do or die wins have come in Montreal, against these very Bruins, so he is quite capable of handling the pressure in this exact situation.
Price also played a few elimination games in Sochi, Russia just a few months ago, in an extremely tense situation, representing Team Canada. Anything less than a gold medal would not be acceptable, and Canada struggled to score goals the entire tournament.
Price made sure that was not a problem, as he allowed one goal in the Quarterfinal, Semi-Final and Gold Medal Game’s combined. He shut out the high powered offense of Team USA in the Semis, and once again allowed no pucks to reach his net against Sweden in the Gold Medal Game.
Price has plenty of reason to have a calm, cool demeanor, as he is extremely confident in his abilities. This confidence could go a long way in the Canadiens extending their second round series tonight.