MONTREAL – Carey Price was up to his old tricks in his first full preseason outing of 2014-15, showcasing the form that has earned him plenty of accolades over the course of a decorated seven-year NHL career.
On Sunday night, the 27-year-old netminder turned aside 29 shots in a 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre, denying the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Chimera on multiple occasions before Joel Ward lit the lamp with just 89 seconds remaining in regulation time to give head coach Barry Trotz’s club the victory.
While it wasn’t the end result Price & Co. were ultimately looking for after rattling off three straight wins, the three-time NHL All-Star took things in stride in the aftermath of the Canadiens’ first preseason loss of the year.
“It’s nice to get a full workload, to see some shots and work on your timing a little bit. It’s something that really leaves you in the summertime. Probably the hardest thing to get back is the pace of the game. It’s just nice to get back to a real one,” offered Price, who is coming off a 34-win season in 2013-14 in which he also posted a career-high 2.32 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. “There are still some things to work out, but overall I’m feeling pretty good. It’s all about how you feel, and just getting some game action definitely helps.”
Price’s latest effort certainly wasn’t lost on his teammates, who wasted little time pointing out just how steady their netminder looked with a brand new season on the horizon. Needless to say, the Anahim Lake, BC native’s stellar performance didn’t surprise them at all.
“He was unbelievable. That’s mid-season form for him. He makes four or five game-changing saves during any game. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t bail him out. We did all we could, but I thought we could’ve executed better. That’s a pretty good lineup across the board there for Washington. They’ve got some skill and some real high-end talent. He kept us in the game like he does every game,” stressed Dale Weise, pointing to the fact that Price played an integral part in keeping the Capitals at bay during nine total power play opportunities.
“We’ve got so much confidence when he’s in that net. It’s unbelievable. You could see the vibe on our team, no matter how we play. We don’t want to play on our heels, but he’s such a good goaltender. I think he’s the best in the world,” continued Weise, who was one of 10 Canadiens to generate at least one shot on Capitals netminders Justin Peters and Braden Holtby, all 18 of which were turned aside to help Washington secure its second straight preseason win. “Our team just feeds off Carey’s energy. It’s a credit to just how hard he works. He works extremely hard in practice. He takes every shot seriously. He plays out on every rebound. That’s definitely what puts him in the upper-echelon of goaltenders.”
Like Weise, newcomer Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau knows full well just how critical a role Price will play come the season-opener on October 8th in Toronto and beyond. Fortunately, the right-winger already senses that the 2014 Olympic gold-medalist is primed for another breakout campaign.
“I’d say our goaltender is ready for the season,” offered Parenteau, who is delighted to call Price a teammate after trying to best him time and again during stints with the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche before joining the Canadiens back on June 30th. “He made incredible stops during the game. He was definitely the Carey Price that I went up against over the course of my career. It wasn’t any different than any other game.”
It’s safe to say Canadiens fans the world over would happily agree with that assessment.
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
The Numbers Game - September 28, 2014