MONTREAL - After wrapping up his 10th NHL campaign this spring, Carey Price headed back home to British Columbia for some well-deserved downtime with his wife Angela and one-year-old daughter Liv.
He'll be back in the spotlight in June, though, when the 29-year-old goaltender will be making his way to the NHL Awards in Las Vegas as one of this year's three Vezina Trophy finalists - the second time in his career he's been up for the honor. The award - which he previously claimed in 2015, along with the Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and William M. Jennings Trophy - is presented to "the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs."
This season, Price compiled a 37-20-5 record in 62 regular-season appearances between the pipes, helping pace the Canadiens to an Atlantic Division title. He finished the year tied for fourth in the League in wins, and tied for sixth in both goals-against average (2.23) and save percentage (.923), in addition to posting three shutouts. He also earned his fifth trip to the NHL All-Star Game, and continued to cement his place in team history by surpassing Hall-of-Famer Ken Dryden to take over sole possession of third spot on the franchise's all-time wins list (270).
Coming out on top in each of his first 10 outings to begin the season - and making NHL history in the process - certainly helped in that regard.
And, Price did all of that after backstopping Team Canada to a World Cup of Hockey crown in September.
Not too shabby for a goaltender who played just 12 games in 2015-16 due to injury.
Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned come playoff time, which left a somewhat bitter taste in his mouth heading into the summer.
"It's mixed feelings. Whenever you don't achieve your goal, it's disappointing," said Price, who posted a 2-4 record in the Canadiens' opening-round postseason series loss to the New York Rangers, despite compiling a sparkling 1.86 GAA. "You have to give the other team credit. They played pretty well defensively. Hank [Henrik Lundqvist] played well. I think we all just needed to find a little bit more to give. That would've been the difference."
Like the rest of his teammates, Price obviously had high hopes entering the series with New York given everything the club had accomplished between mid-October and early April. He saw a group primed to make some serious noise at the most critical point of the season, so when it came time for everyone to pack their gear up after just six games and head their separate ways, it definitely hurt.
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"We've got a lot of character on this team. We've got great chemistry here. It was one of the most fun years I've had here with this group of guys. That's one of the most disappointing parts," said Price, on the premature playoff exit. "You had a group in here that could've done it, but just fell short."
Nevertheless, the former fifth-overall selection is adamant that playoff success in Montreal isn't far off.
"We've got a lot of guys who played well in the playoffs, a lot of the young players like Lehky [Artturi Lehkonen]. We have a bright future," insisted Price, referencing the rookie forward's standout showing in Round 1 during his NHL playoff debut. "You see guys are gaining experience, and every year that you gain experience is great."
Price may be speaking in the future tense, but the seven-time Molson Cup winner has just one-year remaining on his current contract. He can't re-up his deal until after July 1, but does the All-World netminder foresee celebrating Canada Day by signing on the dotted line?
"I love playing here. I'm sure we'll figure something out," said Price, who will otherwise enter the final year of a six-year contract in 2017-18. "Like I said, I want to stay here. I know we'll figure out a way to make all of the pieces fit and bring a championship here."
Video: Carey Price fulfills Logan's Make-a-Wish
In the meantime, the Canadiens' No. 31 is just enjoying life in the Okanagan Valley with his two biggest fans by his side.
"It's great to decompress and go golfing [in Kelowna]," said Price. "I'm spending some time with my daughter and my wife. I'm just enjoying being a dad."