BOSTON — There was plenty (too much) talk about respect following the Montreal Canadiens’ Game 7 win over the Bruins on Wednesday night. However, if there’s one player who really deserves a ton of respect for his play in the seven-game showdown, it’s Montreal goalie Carey Price.
Price’s talent is no new revelation, as he’s long been considered a very good goaltender. With the Habs’ series win over the Bruins, however, the 26-year-old has taken up residence in the club of the NHL’s elite goaltenders.
This season has been Price’s coming-out party. He backstopped a dominant Canada team to a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in February. Serving as the No. 1 netminder, Price went 5-0 with two shutouts, a .972 save percentage and 0.59 goals against average. Those numbers were downplayed some, though, because Price had one of the greatest hockey teams ever assembled playing in front of him.
However, Price’s NHL season was the best of his career. He set career highs in save percentage (.927) and goals against average (2.32) while also posting six shutouts. He did so somewhat under the radar.
There was nothing under-the-radar about his performance against the Bruins, though. Price was fantastic. He posted a .932 save percentage and allowed just one goal in the final two games of the series in helping Montreal erase a 3-2 series deficit. He admittedly was helped by some puck luck along the way, but he also made plenty of top-notch saves, too.
“Their goaltender, Carey Price, was outstanding,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said Wednesday night. “He gave them a chance to win every night. There were some nights we thought we could have come out with a win, but the way he played — he allowed that team to win every night, and certainly when you play the way he did, it gave his team a lot of confidence. So that was, to me, one of the keys to their success, was how strong Carey Price played for them.”
Price also stepped up and embraced a leadership role, especially in Game 7, when he joined Canadiens great Ken Dryden as the only other goaltender to beat the Bruins in two Game 7s. The goalie spoke up during the second intermission Wednesday and backed up his words, with eight of his 29 saves coming in the third period to seal the win.
“For me, it showed a lot of leadership,” Montreal head coach Michel Therrien said. “Carey Price is a leader for us. He’s calm. He competes. He wants to play those games; he won the gold medal, those are demanding games, and again tonight, he was outstanding. He’s a true leader for us.”
The Bruins and their fans had better get used to seeing Price in the playoffs, too. The NHL’s new playoff realignment is designed to pit division rivals against each other during the postseason, which means the two hated rivals could be seeing a lot of each other in coming springs. That means the Bruins will have to square off with Price for a long time, as the netminder is signed through the 2017-18 season.
It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch Price and Boston goalie Tuukka Rask (signed through 2020-21) do battle for at least the next few years, especially if Rask uses being outplayed by Price as motivation for the next time they meet.
Whenever that meeting happens — and it probably will be sooner rather than later — one thing is certain: The Bruins will be giving Price plenty of respect. He’s earned that over the last two weeks.
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