MONTREAL – Carey Price’s season got off to a flying start before coming to a premature end.
After putting together one good season after another over the past few years, and cementing his place as a pillar in the Canadiens locker room in the process, the Anahim Lake, BC native openly admits that the 2013-14 campaign was among the best of his young career.
Unfortunately for him, his storied run came to an end on May 17 when New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider collided with the talented netminder, sidelining him for several weeks.
“It was really hard. With the way everything was playing out, the feeling that we had in the dressing room, and the way everything was unfolding in front of us. It was really sad,” mentioned Price, who admitted that he would’ve be ready to return to active duty if the Canadiens had secured a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Despite being unable to contribute to the Canadiens’ cause on the ice, Price remained as involved as ever with the team.
“I wanted to stay as involved as possible. I came to the rink at the same time as everybody else. I wanted to keep my routine going in case I was able to come back,” confided Price, who played 12 postseason tilts in 2014. “I didn’t want to be the guy that was left out. It’s a special time of year and I wanted to stay involved. The hardest part about being injured is not feeling like you’re a part of the group. That’s why I tried to stay as involved as I could.”
If Price’s playoff run was ultimately cut short, his play during the regular season ranked him among the league’s elite goaltenders. He finished sixth in the NHL with 34 victories, and finished third with a .927 save percentage. He also registered a career-high seven-game winning streak.
“I think that this season was among the top two seasons of my career. This team played so well in front of me all season long,” stressed Price, who saw his teammates block 803 shots over the course of the year, which was just under 100 more than the second-ranked San Jose Sharks who finished the season with 707 blocks of their own. “I think that this was the tightest group I’ve seen. It’s sad that it came to an end like that, but we’re looking forward to next season.”
While Price won’t have his day with the Cup in 2014, the three-time All-Star still walked away with a nice piece of hardware on his mantle after claiming a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi back in February.
“I was really lucky to have been selected to represent my country. I had an amazing experience over there. It was a terrific experience,” mentioned the 26-year-old netminder, who headed to Russia with teammate P.K. Subban.
Not only did Price leave Sochi with a gold medal, but he was instrumental in Canada’s win. He registered five victories, including two shutouts, while posting an impressive 0.59 goals-against average along the way.
Nearing a complete recovery from his injury, Price could quickly begin training for the 2014-15 season, a campaign in which he could elevate his game once again and maintain his standing as one of the NHL’s finest goaltenders.
“We can always do better. Every player is going to have to find a way to get 10 percent better over the summer,” offered Price. “It might not even be that much. It might only be one percent better.”
Based on Price’s performances during the season, a one percent improvement should suffice.
But, he likely won’t be limiting himself to that.
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.
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