-- Carey Price
was all smiles Tuesday morning upon getting word he was one of the six goalies picked to participate in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game presented by Discover in Raleigh, N.C., later this month.
It will mark his second All-Star Game appearance -- the 23-year-old Price was named starter for the 2009 All-Star Game in Montreal. Price was edged out by the Pittsburgh Penguins
' Marc-Andre Fleury
for the top spot in fan balloting at the position this time around.
"It's going to be nice to be in it ... it's a fun event," Price told the media following practice here at Madison Square Garden in preparation for Tuesday's game against the New York Rangers
(7 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS). "I had a lot of fun at the last one in Montreal, but this one is a little different. It's exciting; it's a special time of the year to spend some time with guys on other teams who, really, you love to hate."
Price, who was entrenched as the Montreal starter to open this season after last spring's playoff hero, Jaroslav Halak
, was traded to the St. Louis Blues
, believes the format for choosing teams at the All-Star Game certainly will make it interesting for the fans.
"It's interesting because you get the players involved and I think the fans will enjoy it," he said. "It's kind of like shinny hockey in your backyard, so that's going to be fun."
Of the 42 players who will take part in the game, six (two forwards, one defenseman per team) will be chosen as captains and alternates. Those players then will choose sides at the NHL All-Star Fantasy Player Draft powered by Cisco, an 18-round affair to be held Jan. 28 at the Raleigh Convention Center that will determine the teams for the All-Star Game two days later.
"The voting and invitation to the All Star Game was definitely different this year, but I still got a lot of votes from the fans and I appreciated that," Price said. "I guess you're just hoping that you're not the last guy picked."
While that remains to be seen, there's no denying that Price has earned his invitation to the mid-season classic.
Price is 21-14-3 with a 2.31 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 38 games this season. He's already set a career-high with four shutouts. The Anahim Lake, B.C., native was named the NHL's second star of the month for November and was the Canadiens' Molson Cup winner for October, November and December.
Montreal defenseman Hal Gill
said he feels Price has earned his All-Star spot this season.
"He's just been so steady for us and he was on fire in the beginning of the year, winning games for us, and I think that kind of caught up to us and we strayed from what we do well, but he bailed us out a lot," Gill said. "We had a little skid there where he played well and we just weren't playing well enough for him to win games, losing close ones. He's been the steadiest player on the team for us so far."
On Jan. 6, Price also became just the seventh goalie in NHL history to post three 20-win seasons before his 24th birthday.
"So far, the season has been going well and it's nice to be named an All-Star after all the hard work, but obviously the real reward is at the end," Price said. "But it's a treat to play in this game at this time."
"He's just been so steady for us and he was on fire in the beginning of the year, winning games for us, and I think that kind of caught up to us and we strayed from what we do well, but he bailed us out a lot. We had a little skid there where he played well and we just weren't playing well enough for him to win games, losing close ones. He's been the steadiest player on the team for us so far." -- Hal Gill
Price said he plans to take it easy in Raleigh, enjoying time with the players and checking out the festivities. His 2,283 minutes played is first in the League, and the 1,109 shots he's faced is second.
Price knows the Canadiens' coaching staff will be monitoring his minutes and games played during the team's second-half push to the playoffs.
"We're definitely going to manage the minutes," he said. "It's going to be kind of game-to-game because even 70 games is a lot."
When informed that the Ducks' Jonas Hiller
was the only goalie from the Western Conference selected to the All-Star roster, Price was a bit surprised.
"I didn't know that until now," he said. "In the NHL, the goaltending caliber is very similar, so I guess it all depends on personal choice."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale