The preseason has not been good to Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
Price let up four goals in 10 shots to the Bruins in his first outing and six goals in 30 shots against the Senators in his second game. In fact, those four goals by the Bruins were scored in just 30 minutes.
This has left many Montreal fans wondering whether the Habs made the right choice by trading last season’s playoff hero, Jaroslav Halak, to the St. Louis Blues this summer.
To be fair to Price, one of the goals allowed was a power-play goal, and another was a penalty shot. But the pressure has been mounting on Price and he has yet to prove he can handle it.
Since being drafted fifth overall by the Canadiens in 2005, Price has been promoted as the answer to all of Montreal’s goaltending problems. Price’s problems may begin with the fact that he was so heavily hyped for the past three seasons.
Montreal also has Alex Auld as its backup should Price really struggle. Auld is a solid backup goalie who can play 30 or more games if needed, but he’s certainly no Halak. Price will be responsible for 2/3 of the season, which means even more pressure for a goalie who had a losing season last year.
Meanwhile, Halak has played one preseason game for the Blues, against the Colorado Avalanche. In that game, Halak allowed three goals on 18 shots. That’s a .833 save percentage. Price has a .743 percentage in his two games.
Price had two good seasons before last year. His problems last season and this preseason could potentially continue or end at any time. It’s tough to judge a goaltender as young as Price. Even though he’s played for Montreal for three seasons, the 23-year-old netminder is too young to assess whether he’ll be a long-time NHL stopper or will eventually end up as just another has-been.
It’s much too early to know whether the Habs made a mistake by keeping Price and trading Halak, but it’s easy to sympathize with fans who don’t think their goalie situation looks ideal.
Price has shown in the past that he has the talent. His biggest challenge will be ignoring the hype and the concern and just playing the game.