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Behind The Numbers

Price has work to do to reach 500 wins with Canadiens

After setting Montreal record, statistics show historic milestone could be difficult

by Scott Cullen / Correspondent

Now that Carey Price holds the Montreal Canadiens record for wins, his place on the NHL all-time list could be the next metric in measuring the greatness of his career.

Price got his 315th NHL win with a 3-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday, passing Jacques Plante for most among Montreal goalies.

As well as Price has performed throughout his NHL career, wins have not always come easily. Since arriving in the NHL as a 20-year-old in 2007-08, Price has been among the League's elite goalies but has not always received that level of help from the Canadiens.


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The Canadiens have averaged 2.72 goals per game with Price, which ranks 19th in that time, so he has received below-average goal support. That was not the case for other revered Canadiens goalies: Plante (3.37, first), Patrick Roy (3.51, ninth) or Ken Dryden (4.29, first).

With Price, the Canadiens have allowed 30.7 shots against per game, 20th in the NHL. With below-average goal support and below-average shot suppression, Price (315-221-67) has been responsible for lifting Montreal's performance with his play.

So how many NHL games will Price win before retiring? One way to go about forecasting is to examine the 28 goalies Price is chasing on the NHL all-time list.

Through the age-31 season, those 28 goalies averaged 513 games played and 250 wins. Price, who turns 32 in August, has 315 wins in 613 games, so he's ahead by comparison and has the benefit of not having tie games. Overtime was implemented by the NHL for the 1983-84 season, and the shootout (ending ties) was introduced for 2005-06. The goalies ahead of Price averaged 84.5 ties each; he has 39 overtime wins and 30 shootout wins.

Video: DET@MTL: Price becomes Canadiens' winningest goalie

Through their age-31 seasons, the goalies to win more games than Price were Martin Brodeur (403), Marc-Andre Fleury (357), Roy (349) and Terry Sawchuk (326).

The real test is what comes next. As a player gets into his 30s, there are signs of statistical decline. For a goalie, save percentage may dip, but the bigger challenge, when it comes to accumulating wins, is staying healthy enough to handle the workload of a starter.

Since 2000-2001, there are five goalies -- Dwayne Roloson, Curtis Joseph, Dominik Hasek, Ed Belfour and Brodeur -- who have played at least 50 games multiple times after turning 36.

Perhaps Price can be one of those rare performers. He is in the first year of an eight-year contract that will take him through 38 years old, so that seems like a reasonable time frame to use when forecasting his potential wins total. Any beyond that age should be considered a bonus in the forecast.

The Canadiens have 12 games left in the 2018-19 regular season. If Price can win five of those, he would have 320.

Among the top 28 goalies, 63 percent of their NHL wins were achieved by their age-31 season. If 320 wins is 63 percent of Price's total, he would project to win another 188 games, giving him 508 to possibly rank third all-time, behind Brodeur (691) and Roy (551).

But does Price's projected total need to be adjusted for any variety of factors?

In recent seasons, statistics have shown that goalies tend to perform worse when playing back-to-back games. As a result, teams have shifted philosophies about usage, tending to play each goalie once in those scenarios.

Price has played 55 of 70 games this season, putting him on pace for 64 games. It would be his most since 2014-15, when he played 66 games on his way to winning the Hart Trophy as NHL Most Valuable Player and the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie.

Video: DET@MTL: Carey Price speaks about passing Plante

The trend has been for fewer goalies to play in at least 65 games in a season. From 2000-01 through 2011-12, there were an average of 8.9 goalies per season who played at least 65 games. From 2013-14 through 2017-18, that dropped to 4.6 per season. This season, Price is one of three to have played at least 55 games, trailing Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights and Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild, each with 58.

The trend is clear, so it's fair to expect Price won't continue to play as many games as he moves into his mid- and late-30s.

If Price gets to 320 wins this season, then averages 25 per season for seven more seasons, that would put him at 495. With good health and a few breaks, 500 is a possibility, a threshold that remains an elite marker for any NHL goalie because of the difficulty of sustaining excellence for an extended period.

Brodeur and Roy are the goalies who have won that many, and few among Price's peers have a legitimate chance to join them.

Video: Is Carey Price an all-time great Canadien?

Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers has 485. The 39-year-old would have a chance at 500 wins next season and has three seasons remaining on his contract.

Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers has 449 wins and could reach 500 if he remains healthy. The 37-year-old has two seasons remaining on his contract and is playing behind a rebuilding team. He has 18 wins in 46 games this season and is on pace for the fewest wins in a full season in his 14-season career (26 last season).

Fleury seems a safe bet to reach 500. The 34-year-old is tied for the NHL lead in wins this season with Martin Jones of the San Jose Sharks (34). Fleury has 438 NHL wins and would need to average 16 per season for each of the next four to pass 500.

Can Price get there? Yes, with some luck and health it's a possibility. More likely, he will end up competing with Luongo, Lundqvist and Belfour, who ranks fourth with 484 wins, in a quest to finish in the top five.

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