I have not always been the biggest Carey Price booster. I’ll be the first to admit it.
Yes back in the day – that more innocent time, in the spring of 2010 – I was a card-carrying Halakian and yes it did take me maybe a year to recover from the Jaroslav Halak trade. Hey sue me! I’m an emotional guy.
My mantra until this season was that Pricey hadn’t proved anything yet at the NHL level. He has yet to have a dominant season from start to finish and it’s probably best if we don’t even talk about his playoff record. In short, he’s won nothing. I’m sure if you asked him, he’d say as much.
You can talk all you want about the poor team in front of him for most of those years – thank you Mr. Gainey and Gauthier! – but fact is a goalie has to win to be even talked about as any kind of contender.
But I’m a big enough man to admit Just Chill Out Price has come into his own this season. If the Canadiens are in a decent position in the East, it’s almost entirely thanks to Price’s stellar play. The Habs would be nowhere this season without their low-key netminder.
So should he be Team Canada’s starting goalie? You might say he already is, since coach Mike Babcock has given the What Me Worry Kid the starting job Thursday against the mighty Team Norway (eds. note: NOT!). But fact is the kindly ol’ coach also said Roberto Luongo will start the second Canadian game against Austria, so they’re clearly planning to have a look at the two goalies and decide who’s in the driver’s seat for the tournament.
There are those who don’t think he’s ready for prime time. Opines Sarah Shoucri from Pop Montreal: Carey is a classic choker under pressure. I hope they stick with Luongo otherwise Canada will know the pain of watching the Habs during the playoffs. Ouch, indeed.
In the other corner of the Facebook debate Wednesday was Trevor Grigg: Carey is no choker. His time has come and he is in fine form, showing poise and maturity, not to mention that he’s the most technically fine goaltender in the league.
If there’s a choker in the house, it is indeed Long Ago. Let me take you back to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Vancouver is up 2-zip after two games at home and then Luongo goes and lets in eight goals in game 3 in Boston and then was pulled in game 4. He bounced back in game 5 and then was pulled again in game 6, when the Canucks could’ve won the Cup and sent the Bruins packing. That was a major-league meltdown that make Price’s post-season woes look like minor mis-steps in comparison.
So I’d roll the dice and go with the younger less experienced guy. Price looks like he’s ready. He just looks so confident this year. But knowing the conservative gang that runs Team Canada, I expect them to go with Luongo. But if – when? – he messes up, Price is just a skate away and I’m pretty sure he’ll end up being the guy between the pipes down the Olympic stretch.
Then again, I also expect a Miracle on ice from Halak over at Team Slovakia. Halak-Price gold medal face-off? Okay so it’s just a wee bit far-fetched but us Habs would love to see that one.