Carey Price matures, takes his responsibility as Montreal's #1 goalie seriously

careyprice4.jpgBeing the starting goalie for the Montreal Canadiens could be viewed as one of the toughest jobs in the NHL. There’s pressure to be the absolute best in the world game in and game out or else you’ll be run out of town like a witch would in Colonial America.

For a guy like Carey Price, the hill to climb to be appreciated fully is even steeper after being relegated to the bench last year by Jaroslav Halak’s stellar play and still dealing with the scornful eye of some fans for an image that was perceived to be that of a carousing playboy not taking his job seriously.

With Halak out of town, Montreal is Price’s town to make it or break it and according to Dave Stubbs of The Montreal Gazette, his playboy partying days may be out of the headlines for good as he’s matured into taking his job seriously now.

In Kelowna, B.C., Price spent part of the summer working with Canadiens goaltending coach Pierre Groulx. Last season, Groulx’s first with the club, was a feeling-out process for both men. This year, Price said, “we’re going to be a lot more detailed.”

“We worked on a lot of technical aspects we wanted to bang out,” he explained of their summer sessions. “This season, we’re going to be more thorough with things.”

There was no need for either to dwell on last season’s statistics. Price was 13-20-5 with a pedestrian save percentage of .912, a spectator in 13 of the Canadiens’ final 15 regular-season games and a participant in only four of their 19 playoff matches, three times appearing only in relief.

The running gag last season at head coach Jacques Martin’s media briefings was the question, “Who’s in net tomorrow night?” to which Martin would reply he’d sleep on it, since he believed he had two No. 1 goalies.

“It’s a different scenario this year,” Martin said yesterday through a smile. “Carey is our No. 1 and Alex Auld is going to support him. It’s the situation we’re confident with entering the season.”

It’s encouraging to see Price buckling down and taking his job more serious. His first season in the NHL was brilliant and to see him struggle the way he did the last two years was startling. After all, seeing goalies arrive on the scene hot only to fizzle out shortly thereafter isn’t uncommon in the NHL. To see it happen in Montreal would over-dramatize the situation and turn it into a provincial catastrophe in Quebec.

After all, we’ve seen what happened when photos of Price out drinking and partying did to Montreal, having him burnout completely would only make things seem even more insane than they already are in the hockey-mad city. If Price can ultimately revive his career in the city that’s re-embracing him as their star, it’d make for one heck of a movie script. Playing in Jacques Martin’s defense-centric system can only serve to benefit all the more, but it’s up to Price to determine how bad he wants it.

Scroll Down For:

    Ducks send Stoner to AHL on conditioning loan

    AP
    Leave a comment

    Clayton Stoner is going to play some hockey again.

    The Anaheim Ducks announced today that the 32-year-old defenseman has been assigned to AHL San Diego on a long-term injury conditioning loan.

    Stoner has not played since Nov. 15. He had abdominal surgery in December, at which point the Ducks said he’d miss an additional 4-6 weeks. But a setback in his recovery extended the time frame.

    “The setback was kind of just me trying to get back maybe a little bit quicker than I should,” Stoner told the O.C. Register recently. “And I wasn’t ready. Things have been good here for a little while so hopefully I’m just trying to string some days together and earn a spot back and kind of prove that I can be healthy and stay healthy.”

    Panthers didn’t want to trade Crouse, but Bolland contract was ‘strangling’ them

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    Interesting note here from Florida head coach Tom Rowe who, last night, watched former Panther prospect Lawson Crouse play in Florida for the first time since being traded to Arizona.

    Crouse was the price the Panthers had to pay to unload Dave Bolland‘s contract on the Coyotes last summer. Rowe wasn’t involved with the Bolland signing, but was involved in dumping the contract — he was Florida’s assistant GM at the time the deal went down.

    His take, from the Miami Herald:

    Florida traded Crouse to the Coyotes last summer as part of a salary cap dump; Arizona took on the final three years and $16.5-million of Dave Bolland’s contract in exchange for a top prospect — in this case, Crouse.

    “We got criticized for giving up on a great young prospect but we had to,” Rowe said. “That contract was strangling us, cap-wise. …

    “When we traded him, our scouts were furious. I’m not going to lie. But we had to do something and that was trade Lawson. I’m sure, to this day, he’s still sour about it.”

    Crouse, who Florida took 11th overall at the 2015 draft, has five goals and 11 points through 64 games this year, averaging 11:50 TOI per night. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but they do need to be taken in context — Crouse is only 19 years old, and the 10th-youngest player to play in the NHL this season.

    Bolland, meanwhile, hasn’t played since December of 2015, due to a variety of back and ankle injuries. His time in Florida was largely forgettable — after scoring the $27.5 million pact, he played just 78 games in a Panthers uniform, scoring 28 points.  It’s widely regarded as the worst deal GM Dale Tallon has made during his time with the organization.

    Shortly after taking on his contract, Coyotes GM John Chayka said Bolland wouldn’t be healthy for the “foreseeable future.” The 30-year-old has two years remaining on his deal, at $5.5 million annually.

     

    Arizona lawmaker suggests Coyotes pledge more money for new arena

    Getty
    2 Comments

    Arizona Senate President Steve Yarbrough does not expect a piece of legislation to pass that would give the Coyotes millions of dollars in public financing to build a new arena.

    That being said, Yarbrough thinks the Coyotes may be able to gain some “traction” if they offer to put in more of their own money.

    Under the current plan, the team has pledged $170 million of the arena’s total cost, which is estimated at almost $400 million. The difference would be made up by new sales taxes, plus $55 million from the still-to-be-determined host city.

    “If you are getting no traction the way the bill is designed, you could see if the hockey team paid a greater portion,” Yarbrough told the Arizona Republic yesterday. “I have been around this business long enough to know that if it’s not working in this format, you change the format to make it more attractive.”

    For their part, the Coyotes have not said whether they’d be willing to pay a greater portion of the project, only that they’ll continue to “work hard to find a viable arena solution in the greater Phoenix area, a market that both the club and the NHL believe is a strong hockey market capable of supporting a successful NHL franchise.”

    Related: Bettman says Coyotes “cannot and will not remain in Glendale”

    Into the fire: Halak, recalled yesterday, starts for Isles in Pittsburgh

    Getty
    1 Comment

    A little scene setting for you.

    New York heads into tonight’s massive game in Pittsburgh sitting two points back of Boston for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Isles have two games in hand on the B’s — who are idle tonight — so a win could move them into a playoff spot.

    As such, the Isles will start a goalie that hasn’t played in the NHL in 85 days.

    Against the league’s highest-scoring offense.

    The goalie in question is Jaroslav Halak, who’s spent the last three months playing for the Isles’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. Recalled yesterday, Halak will now face big league competition for the first time since Dec. 29, when he allowed four goals on 24 shots in a loss to Minnesota.

    (Afterward, then-head coach Jack Capuano ripped Halak, saying he gave up “some soft goals to start” and “wasn’t sharp at all.”)

    But Halak’s been really good in Bridgeport.

    He’s posted a 17-7-1 record with a 2.15 GAA and .925 save percentage, and a pair of shutouts. And given how spotty Berube’s play has been as Greiss’ backup, the Isles really had no other choice than to recall Halak.

    The club is in the midst of a compacted part of the schedule. Greiss was excellent in Wednesday’s win over the Rangers — stopping 34 of 36 shots in a 3-2 victory — but he was also busy.

    The Isles are in Pittsburgh tonight, then host the Bruins on Saturday — another massive game — then host the Preds on Monday. It’s a compact part of the schedule, and Berube’s struggles have rendered him virtually unplayable, given how meaningful the games are (and, to borrow a timeless cliche, how vital points are at this time of the year.)

    So it’s Halak tonight, and possibly more down the stretch.