Don’t Look Now, Carey Price Is Struggling

December 31st, 2010 No Comments

Heading into the 2010-11 season many NHL pundits had Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price listed as a question mark.

A poor 2009-10 regular season in which Price lost his starting job to Jaroslav Halak, posting a 13-20-5 record along the way, followed by a horrific playoff which saw Price post a 0-1 record to go along with a .890 save percentage and bloated 3.56 goals against average, served as plenty of ammunition as to why Price may struggle this season.

To the amazement of many (myself included), Price started the season strong, elevating his game to a new level, earning player of the week honors and, in many people’s minds, solidifying himself as the Canadiens number one goaltender.

Price earned respect from the Montreal Canadiens’ fans and NHL fans alike for his efforts, garnering plenty of all-star support, which led to Price leading all goaltenders in votes at one point.

The fast start, all-star votes and team success was a dream come true for Price and Habs fans alike, who, before the season began, were guilty of booing their newly found hero during a pre-season game—the same fans that likely booed Price in last years playoffs and throughout the 2009-10 season!

Needless to say, Montreal fans have the reputation of being very tough on their players. When the going’s good you are recognized as a hockey God in Montreal, when the going gets bad—umm, not so much.

Recently the Canadiens have been in a slump, mustering just two wins in their past eight games.

While all of the blame should not be directed at Price, there is no question that he is struggling, which once again brings into question his ability to be able to deliver at a high level for an entire season.

Over his past ten games Price has posted save percentages under .900 (the watermark for decent play) a total of six times, dipping as low as .706 in a game against the Dallas Stars on December 21st in which Price allowed five goals on 17 shots.

Over that time span Price has earned a paltry three wins. Now, those seven loses are not solely Price’s fault, just like his early success was not solely his either.

Overall, Price is still having an excellent season. He has started more games than any goaltender in the NHL (which is partly why he is second in wins with 19 on the season), He also owns the third highest loses with 14 (but hey, who’s counting) That said, his GAA 0f 2.32 (eighth overall) and save percentage of .921 (tenth overall) more than make up for any shortcomings—at least for now.

Two weeks ago Price was the hottest goaltender in hockey, a goalie that seemingly could do no wrong, on a team that was flush with timely goals, great defense and a commendable work ethic.

Now, just as the Habs are about to hit the halfway point in their season, Price and the Canadiens are in their worst slump of the season, and, given their injury woes, it does not appear as if Price or his team will get back to the level they were at at the beginning of the season.

It’s funny how the loss of a player or two can hurt your team. Funny how a goaltender could go from questionable to an all-star calibre goaltender in a matter of three months, only to be reduced to below average in a matter of ten games…

It’s still early to tell (just as it may have been too early to prop Price up so high), but maybe, just maybe, Price’s critics were right all along, maybe he isn’t the Messiah they so quickly made him out to be?

It is, after all, a long season

Until next time,

Peace!

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