Montreal Canadiens: Why Carey Price Will Take a Huge Step Forward in 2012-13

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Montreal Canadiens: Why Carey Price Will Take a Huge Step Forward in 2012-13
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.

Carey Price is a lot of things: 25, rich, engaged apparently and a goalie. But is he any good? That’s the question du jour.

Maybe “good” is the wrong word. Everyone knows he’s good to a certain extent. I mean you don’t get to the National Hockey League unless you bring something to the table, unless of course you’re Scott Gomez, in which case you have two or three good years, cash in and then..."good?"

Not so much.

Is Carey Price just another Scott Gomez? I mean, he’s only won 30 games once in the five seasons he’s been a Hab, and his current six-year, $39-million deal isn’t exactly endearing himself to fans.

However, despite a lot of the evidence indicating otherwise, it’s clear Price is indeed Montreal’s goalie of the future and that this season, once it starts, will see him launch into superstardom.

To start, any notion that the earlier comparison to Gomez was credible should be dispelled. Consider this: Price will win at least one game next season, no matter what. Gomez won’t necessarily score a single goal, and that’s all that will (and needs to) be said on the subject.

Sure, Price may not have had all that great of a season last year. Anytime you lose more games (28) than you win (26) as a goalie, it’s a bad year. However his 2.43 goals-against average and .916 save percentage were far from bottom of the barrel.

In fact, in terms of GAA, Price placed 18th in the league ahead of such notable talents as Ilya Bryzgalov and Ryan Miller… okay, just Ryan Miller. He was also just .02 off of Roberto Luongo’s pace. His save percentage was 20th best in the league, again ahead of Ryan Miller, then Cam Ward, Antti Niemi and eventually Marc-Andre Fleury, all of whom have won massive hardware. Price is also younger than all of them and arguably has greater potential for the future.

Rob Carr/Getty Images
In 2011-12, Carey Price had better stats than Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres.

 

Of course, one year does not a career make, good or bad, and while several of those goalies admittedly had off-years, who’s to say Price didn’t as well? Assuming last year was an aberration, during his previous three years, Price improved on both his GAA and save percentage to the point of posting a truly superstar-esque 38-28-6-8 record in 2010-11.

In fact, all 2011-12 proved was that if you play behind a team that finishes third to last in the entire league, your play is bound to suffer as a result, which is kind of like saying the sky is blue, sugar is sweet or, no matter what, Peter Budaj will still start about as many games as Dominik Hasek next season.

Come the start of 2012-13, Montreal will ice a better team than last year’s edition, and, more importantly to this argument, one with a better defense.

While Andrei Markov and Tomas Kaberle are each one year closer to retirement, the opposite is true of the rest of what is one of the youngest defensive corps in the league. Josh Gorges will be entering his prime as a 28-year-old, while Alexei Emelin, Raphael Diaz and P.K. Subban are one year closer to reaching their full potential.

This alone will lead to less goals against, more wins and greater confidence for Price.

As mentioned to open this piece, Price is a lot of things, including, like Subban, one year older and more mature. When the Habs drafted Price fifth overall in 2005 when they still had Jose Theodore (and Jose Theodore still had some semblance of a game) they must have seen something great in him.

Fans caught a glimpse of that greatness two seasons ago, meaning it’s not so much progress that’s being asked of him, but a return to form, meaning in turn he’s at the very least capable.

That right there is the first major step forward.

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