Carey Price has always been a top goaltender in the league, and it looks as if he’s hit a new level to ensure the Montreal Canadiens get into the playoffs.
The Montreal Canadiens won their second game in a row against the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night. Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Drouin were deemed heroes of the night as the former tied the game with 41 seconds left while the latter got the eventual shootout winner. It was a big two points for the Habs, but many are giving the victory to Carey Price (a line tied to the organization relatively frequently).
It’s not as if the Habs were dominated entirely. They outshot and out-chanced the Blue Jackets at even strength while the high-danger chances were pretty close in favour of Montreal (7-6). When you take man-advantage opportunities to account, Columbus takes the lead in shots 35-32, but the Canadiens still drove play with a 56.56% Corsi-For.
That said, Price made a number of crucial saves that kept the Montreal Canadiens in the game while it was still 2-1. Additionally, the Habs didn’t get a single shot in overtime while having to kill off the Victor Mete penalty. Then you look at the shootout where Price stopped both Gustav Nyquist and Oliver Bjorkstrand to secure the win for Montreal (Cam Atkinson went first but missed).
The Montreal Canadiens are now second in the Atlantic Division tied in points with the Florida Panthers (23). Price made it clear at the end of last season and the beginning of this how badly he wants an opportunity to win, and he’s supplying the Habs with that opportunity every night.
The “funny” thing is that Price’s baseline numbers aren’t too stellar. He has a .916 save percentage, which is 18th in the league amongst all goaltenders with a 9-4-2 record. When you refine the results such that only goaltenders who have played at least nine games are included, Price is 13th.
What makes his impact stand out the most is the context of those numbers. The 32-year-old is third in total saves so far this season with 437 while facing the third-most total shots at 477. Price was third in the same categories last season as well (1791 vs. 1952), and that nearly got the Montreal Canadiens into the playoffs if it weren’t for the structure of standings.
It’s not necessarily good that the Habs are allowing this many shots, but Price looks as if he’s in a groove now and stopping all he can when the team needs it. The Habs may find themselves in trouble if they stick to scoring no more than two goals every game for the remainder of the year. Price can make all the stops he needs to, but the team can’t win if they don’t score enough.
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The Habs goaltender went through that a lot last season, where he wouldn’t get enough goal support. That said, goaltending wins you games and playoff series, and it looks as if Carey Price is ready for both of them.