BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price is so in the zone right now he hardly saw his Hart Memorial Trophy nomination coming.
Price learned he was a finalist Wednesday, which is when he said that possibility first occurred to him.
After all the talk throughout the NHL about his sensational season leading the League in wins (44), which broke the Canadiens record held by Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden, goals-against-average (1.96) and save percentage (.933)?
"You know I really didn't put much thought into it," Price said after practice Thursday. "I've just been preoccupied with other things. The season's not over yet. I have other goals to obtain, so even still it's not something that I'm immediately looking forward to."
Price's primary preoccupation has been preparing for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Bell Centre on Friday (7 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN). His said his biggest goal is leading the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup.
"I'm obviously flattered and honored to be nominated," Price said. "There isn't individual successes without my team playing well in front of me."
He has made a point over the course of the season and the playoffs to shine the limelight of his personal success on his teammates for their contributions on defense.
"We know he appreciates us, maybe not as much as we appreciate him, but the [defensemen] have done a great job all year," Canadiens forward Brandon Prust said. "They've got to clear guys out of the front of the net, they've got to clear rebounds, you know, these are all things that go into goalies being the best. It does take a whole team effort and our [defensemen] have done a great job this year."
Goalie - MTL
GAA: 1.94 | SVP: .939
Canadiens center Lars Eller
spoke about Price's stature as a team leader.
"He's valuable on and off the ice and his presence on the ice just calms everybody," Eller said. "There's so many reasons that he deserves the recognition he's getting, and hopefully he'll get the recognition when he gets that Hart Trophy, but I think most of all his biggest goal this year is to win a Stanley Cup and so it is for the rest of us in here."
Goalie Jose Theodore was Montreal's most recent Hart Trophy winner, in 2001-02, he was also the last goalie to win the award. Price is nominated along with forward Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and forward John Tavares of the New York Islanders.
"We're really proud for him and it's a well-deserved nomination," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "We understand that he's going against two quality hockey players who bring a lot to their hockey teams, but one thing people follow our team and know the impact Carey's got on our team and with the success that we got, we definitely strongly believe that he's going to win that honor."