MONTREAL – Most players are happy to soak up the history that comes with playing for the most storied franchise in hockey. Others prefer to create it.
On a team steeped in tradition with 24 Stanley Cup banners crowding the rafters and 15 jerseys retired for 18 different Hall-of-Famers, setting records is no easy feat in Montreal. With his 43rd
win of the 2014-15 campaign – a 4-3 overtime victory over the Red Wings – Carey Price set a new franchise record for success in a season, surpassing a pair of Habs legends to carve out his own place in Habs history.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet, to be honest. I’m very proud of it. I have to thank my teammates for the way they’ve played all season long. This isn’t possible without those guys in front of me,” said Price, who tied Ken Dryden and Jacques Plante’s 42-win single-season record with a 4-1 victory over the Panthers on April 5 before one-upping them on Thursday night. “I definitely have a lot of respect for what they accomplished in their careers. They went on to win Stanley Cups, and that’s my ultimate goal.”
|Carey Price gets pie'd by Alexei Emelin after his milestone win. |
Currently leading the NHL in every major statistical category – save percentage (.934), goals-against average (1.95), shutouts (9), and wins (43) – Price has continued his ascent to the top of the goaltending world in 2014-15. Since staking his claim to Best Goalie in the World status after earning Top Goaltender honors at the 2014 Olympics with a gold medal winning performance, the 27-year-old has been slowly working his way towards becoming one of the best netminders in Canadiens history.
“We’re talking about the history of the Montreal Canadiens. That’s more than 100 years of history,” marveled head coach Michel Therrien, who wouldn’t reveal if he’s planning on giving Price a shot at win No. 44 on Saturday in Toronto. “As we got closer to the end of the season, we really wanted to see this happen for him. It’s pretty phenomenal and we are really privileged to be part of that. He’s an exceptional person and a great leader.”
While Price was able to easily track the 24 shots he kicked aside on Thursday night, he had a harder time keeping an eye on his teammates’ whereabouts postgame. Arriving on the ice after the final buzzer to take part in the annual “jerseys off our backs” tradition for Fan Appreciation Night, Alexei Emelin managed to sneak in behind Price and land a celebratory shaving cream pie on his face during an on-ice interview.
“That’s probably the most outlandish [celebration] you’re going to see for a regular season win, that’s for sure,” joked Price, who wasn’t able to completely remove the shaving cream from his stubble before meeting the media. “It was actually kind of fitting that a guy who doesn’t talk very much comes up behind me and pies me. I’m very close with him. He’s done a very good job all season long. I’ll let it slide this time.”
Although Price admitted he was surprised to discover who the perpetrator was, he has his own theory about which of his teammates was the true brainchild behind the plan.
“It’s his comrade, for sure. It’s Marky [Andrei Markov],” he chuckled. “It’s pretty cool. It shows how tight of a unit we are. We have an outstanding group of guys and they’ve really made it enjoyable to come to the rink all year. They’ve really given it their all all season long and I can’t thank them enough.”
Price may have been characteristically quick to deflect credit after his record-setting performance, but his head coach had no problem dishing it back in his netminder’s direction.
“I certainly believe he deserves the Hart trophy. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the best player in the league right now,” confirmed Michel Therrien. “He’s the player who has the most impact on games. Even if there are a lot of good players having good seasons, Carey Price deserves that trophy.
“I’ve coached a lot of good players – exceptional players – in the past, and he’s right there with them,” he added, referencing the likes of former Hart Trophy winners Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. “It’s always special to coach those types of players. He’s a unique guy. There’s one thing I know: we’re glad to have him.”
One of just six netminders to ever register 43 or more wins in a season – including Martin Brodeur, who accomplished the feat on six occasions, including a 48-win campaign in 2006-07 – Price is happy to have the team record in his rearview mirror so he can start thinking about the next milestones he’d like to cross off his To Do list.
“You want to reflect on it, but you don’t want to get too caught up in looking back,” stressed Price, who is still 92 wins shy of Plante’s record 314 career victories with the Habs. “It’s been working all season long with goal setting and looking forward. I don’t want to start resting on a good season yet. I’ve always been a guy that kind of looks forward. Now that that’s over with, I’m just looking forward to getting started with the playoffs.”Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com. SEE ALSOPrice Gets Pie'dCarey Price named the Canadiens' 2014-15 Molson Cup Player of the Year
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