Will Carey Price Lead Canadiens Back to the Promised Land?

Daniel ArouchianSenior Analyst IApril 5, 2008

What do the Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy have in common? They were rookie goaltenders when the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup. Will Carey Price join them?

Dryden made his NHL debut in mid-season 1971 for the Canadiens and became the backbone of six Stanley Cup-winning teams (1971, 1973, 1976, 1977,1978, 1979). During the first playoff season, Dryden won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs' most valuable player. The following year Dryden won the Calder Trophy as the Rookie of the Year because the previous year he did not play enough regular season games to become eligible. He remains the only NHL player to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy before winning the rookie of the year award.

Patrick Roy made his NHL debut on February 23,1985, when he replaced the Canadiens’ starting goaltender Doug Soetaert in the third period. Roy played for 20 minutes and earned his first NHL win. After the game, he was sent to the Sherbrooke Canadiens of the American Hockey League. Despite starting as a backup, Roy replaced the starting goaltender after the starter had equipment troubles during a game. He got the win, became the starting goaltender for the playoffs and led the team to a Calder Cup championship.

The following season, Roy started playing regularly for the Montreal Canadiens. He played 47 games during the regular season and won the starting job for the playoffs where he emerged as a star, leading his team to an unexpected Stanley Cup title and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. As a 20-year old, he became the youngest Conn Smythe winner ever and was chosen for the NHL All-Rookie Team. In both 1989 and 1990, he won the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender. In the 1993 playoffs he helped the Montreal Canadiens win another Stanley Cup.

Now I know the Habs aren’t the team they were during the Dryden and Roy days, but they’re still a strong team, even though some reporters here in Montreal didn’t even see the team in the playoffs this year. Now for the first time in 15 years they’re first in the Northeast Division.

Ever since Cristobal Huet was traded to Washington, Carey Price has taken over as number one. With a GAA of 2.60, he’s done an excellent job, going 11-3-0 since the trade. He has a lot of experience playing under pressure already. He’s backstopped the Canadian Junior Team to the World Junior Championship, as well as leading the Hamilton Bulldogs to the AHL Calder Cup. This season he is a favorite to win the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year.

Montreal is fanatical about its hockey team and the pressure from fans as well as the media is unbelievable.  It’s been fifteen years since they last won the Cup, which was also the last time any Canadian team won.  Every move made by the players and coaches will be watched and analyzed intensely.

Will Carey Price crack under pressure or will he take the Montreal Canadiens to their 25th Stanley Cup?  Only time will tell. Either way, the Canadiens showed us this season that they won’t go down without a fight, even with the odds stacked against them.