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Sign of respect

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – Carey Price’s teammates think the world of him, and with good reason.

The 27-year-old netminder has been nothing short of spectacular all season long, so much so that he currently leads the League with a career-high 39 wins, a .937 save percentage and a 1.89 goals-against average through 58 starts in goal. It’s hard not to be absolutely amazed with what the Anahim Lake, BC native has accomplished between the pipes so far this year. His colleagues will tell you it’s nothing short of inspiring.

“I haven’t played in front of a goalie like that at this level before. I’ve played with [Vezina Trophy winner] Henrik Lundqvist a little bit and Roberto Luongo, who are no slouches in their own right. But, the level that Carey’s at this year is as good a goaltending performance as I’ve ever seen. I’ve been a hockey fan for 20 years, and it’s as good a performance as I’ve seen,” praised Dale Weise, who believes what separates Price from the rest of the pack is a unique ability to offer up stellar outings time and again without missing a beat. “When you get to this level, it’s extremely hard to be consistent every single day. He’s consistent every single day in practice. Every single game, you know what you’re getting out of Carey Price. It’s so impressive. I think that’s the biggest thing. On top of everything, you know what you’re getting every night.”

That’s for sure. In Price’s case, the numbers really do speak for themselves. The four-time NHL All-Star has given up one goal or less 20 times (including eight shutouts), has made 30-plus saves in a single game 29 times, and boasts a 19-7-3 record in starts in which his team is outshot by the opposition. Earlier this season, the Olympic gold-medalist also strung together a team-record 10 straight road wins between early December and late February.

“It’s not something that happens every now and again. He’s playing like that every night. He gives us a chance to win every night. In that respect, there’s no wow factor, so to speak. It’s just Carey Price being Carey Price. It’s incredible to watch. I’ve never seen that,” offered Malhotra, who has played with a bevy of talented netminders over the course of his NHL career, including two-time Vezina Trophy winner Ed Belfour, Mike Richter, Evgeni Nabokov and Cam Ward. “That’s nothing against the other goaltenders I’ve played with. We never see that. He makes spectacular saves every night. It’s rare to see him give up a bad goal. The most impressive thing is to see him do it every night.”

That has Price just four wins shy of setting a new team record for wins in a single season, a mark that with 10 games remaining in the regular season appears well within reach.

“It’s one of the best seasons from a goaltender that I’ve ever seen in the NHL,” mentioned Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, who, like Weise and Malhotra, can’t say enough good things about the Canadiens’ No. 31. “It’s impressive to see just how confident Carey is in goal every night. It motivates us watching a goaltender of that calibre perform like that.”

And, that’s certainly shown as of late, particularly on the team’s most recent road trip to Long Island, Tampa and Miami, and again in the tilt against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

“We had to up our game a notch. We didn’t have the intensity we were looking for during games. Our goaltenders have been playing good hockey. That’s been the story this year,” admitted Parenteau, referencing Price and back-up Dustin Tokarski’s standout play throughout the 2014-15 campaign. “With the way Carey is performing, it’s up to us to elevate our game, especially with the playoffs coming up.”

Given Price’s penchant for consistency, that shouldn’t necessarily be a tall order.

“I’m just as impressed with Carey as everyone else is and the fans are, too,” praised Brandon Prust. “For us, it’s fun to watch. We’re some of his biggest fans, for sure.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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