Those who know me are probably thinking I’m going to go off on one of my anti-Price pro-Halak rants. But I swear I won’t. At least I’ll try not to. I promise to not write ‘#Halak’ even once. Oops I already did.
I like Carey Price. I like the guy’s character. Nothing fazes him and that psychic toughness is going to be a key asset in his long NHL career.
That said, if you’re not worrying about goaltending going into the playoffs, you’re not awake. Yes Price has had a pretty good season. He’s been solid most nights and though he never steals games, he’s often kept his team in the game.
But what irks me is those in this town who blindly defend Price and insist on claiming he’s one of the league’s elite goalies. Right now, he isn’t. He’s a middle-of-the-pack goalie. Check out this TSN ranking of goalies from April 8.
By their measure, Price is sitting at the No. 11 spot – and that’s before he let in three goals on four (weak) shots in Saturday night’s cringe-worthy performance in a humiliating 5-1 loss to the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. It was the earliest hook in Price’s career.
He was pulled from net just ten minutes into the first period after looking shaky on three straight goals. So it was indeed a night to forget for young Mr. Price – but he won’t likely be forgetting about this nightmare any time soon.
“He’s a good kid, he cares, he’s had a good season, he’s got character and he’s going to bounce back,” said kindly ol’ coach Michel Therrien, and he’s right.
He will bounce back, likely as early as Monday when he’ll hopefully stone the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.
And credit to Price. He faced the ink-stained media wretches as he always does and he didn’t try to sugar-coat his mediocre performance.
“Obviously, it’s not a very pleasant feeling when you know you let your teammates down,” said Price. “That’s the hardest part. The guys out there put in a full 60 minutes of work and I didn’t come through for them.”
So yeah I agree. Price has character. But I’m still worried about the playoffs and so should you be. Not to put a fine point on it, he sucks against the Leafs. This is not good given there’s a good chance there will be the first Leafs Habs post-season match-up since 1979 this year. True that the whole team sucks against the Leafs but that doesn’t make me feel any better.
The Leafs are bigger and stronger and the sight of the Habs at the other end of the rink ups their game several notches. And the entire Habs team had a lame night Saturday too. Just to take one example, what the eff is going on with Max Pacioretty? Wee Brendan Gallagher is right in the crease getting punched, cross-checked and jostled, while the much bigger Patch stands there watching. What’s wrong with this picture?
But the point today is that Price does not excel against the Leafs. And it wasn’t just this past Saturday night. He was also the fellow between the pipes when Toronto crushed Les Boys 6-zip a few weeks back.
It gets worse. Price also hasn’t looked that amazing against the Bruins, the other team Montreal will have to go through if they go anywhere this post-season. Budaj looks like the stronger goalie when it comes to beating Boston.
Last but not least – and I can already hear the Price fans groaning – Price has never ever had a good playoff run in his six-year NHL career. St. Bob Gainey can call him “a thoroughbred” as many times as he likes the fact remains that he’s won few series and never won any post-season series in defining fashion. This is not good.
I’m not saying he’s a bad goalie. I’m not saying he might not finally get his post-season groove going this spring.
I’m just saying I’m worried. Really.
Then again maybe it’ll be another post-season when an under-rated Slovak back-up goalie rides to the rescue. After that first goal he let in Saturday, Peter Budaj sure did look sharp!
I know, I know, that’s driving you Price types nuts. Look on the bright side. At least I didn’t suggest trading for Halak.