In pro sports, you have players who are regular season performers and you have some who tend to elevate their game when it truly matters. In hockey terms, that time is the NHL playoffs. Throughout the debates on who was best between Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominic Hasek, Stanley Cup playoffs (and wins) have often been used to separate the three goaltenders. While he may not have the Cups to back him off, Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price certainly is building himself a case as a great “big game” player.
In his first five playoffs, Price struggled with consistency for the most part. Only in 2010-2011, the season after the Jaroslav Halak trade, did Price live up to expectations during the playoffs. That year, he had a .934 saves percentage and a 2.11 goals against average. The other four seasons were not up to par for a goalie like him. But since the 2013-14 NHL playoffs, he has turned things around in a big way.
The Price is Right
From the 2014 playoffs to date (prior to game 4 of the series against Toronto), off the goaltenders having played a minimum of 30 playoffs’ games, Price is the best in two major categories: Saves percentage and Goals Against Average.
He is ranked first. Top-5, not top-10. FIRST. In the entire NHL.
Now get this… in 27 of those 43 games he’s played, he has allowed two goals or less! That’s 63% of the time that the opponents cannot beat him more than twice in a game!
Further, let’s have a look at the goals’ support Price received during those 43 playoffs’ games he’s played.
|0 Goal||1 Goal||2 Goals||3 Goals||4 Goals||5+ Goals|
|Number of games||5||10||10||6||8||4|
That’s right folks. 25 games (or 58% of the games), Price has received two of fewer goals support and 72% of the time, the Habs have scored three or fewer goals.
Barking up the wrong tree
Even in this series against Toronto, we can hear people complain that the Habs’ rely too heavily on Price. Guess what folks… The Oilers rely on McDavid and Draisaitl. The Bruins on Pasternak, Bergeron and Marchand. You think the Leafs don’t rely on Matthews and Marner? Or that the Avalanche, do they rely on MacKinnon and Landeskog? That’s right. Teams DO rely on their top players. Surprising isn’t it? It just so happen that the Canadiens’ top player is a goalie. And guess what? He’s doing HIS job. You’re barking up the wrong tree.
So without a doubt, if someone is pointing to Price, or is lack of wins, either those people are clueless of the facts pointed above, or it’s pure ill intent… and there’s a lot of that, as we know. So here’s hoping that Dominique Ducharme and his coaching staff, players included, find ways to score goals as Price is doing his job. It’s time to provide him with a bit of breathing room. Go Habs Go!