Any time that a player can set a record on a 100-year old professional sports team it is likely to be significant.
Last night, Carey Price set the record for games played in a season by a goalie as he appeared in his 71st game of the year.
The old record of 70 games played was held by Hall of Famer Jacques Plante and Gerry McNeil, the Canadiens' starting goalie through the early 50s.
The old record had endured from an era when there were only 70 games in the regular season and, if possible, your starting goalie played them all.
Patrick Roy, one of the greatest in league history, played 68 games one year. Ken Dryden, another Hall of Fame Canadiens goalie, playing in front of a team that gave up very few shots, never played in more than 64 games in a season.
Price played a good 71st game—stopping 42 of 43 shots, while the Canadiens beat the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-1 in overtime.
The Chicago Blackhawks started slow, but started to take the play away from the Canadiens as the game progressed.
Desperate to make the playoffs, they out-shot Montreal 20-9 in the third period. Price, however, shut them down after giving up a goal to Patrick Kane at 10:05 in the second.
Price made a series of unlikely saves throughout the game, smothering almost anything that came his way. Often his own worst enemy—some of Chicago's best scoring opportunities came off of his ill-considered clearing attempts into traffic.
Plenty of NHL goalies have made a career of playing more than 70 games a season.
Martin Brodeur did it for years in New Jersey. He played 70 games or more in a season on 12 occasions, while winning four William M. Jennings trophies (best team GAA in a season) and four Vezina trophies (best goalie in the league).
Others, like the Flames' Miikka Kiprusoff, have carried a similar workload, only to see it impair their statistical success.
Time will tell if playing 70-plus games will be a detriment to Price or not. Will he tire early in the playoffs?
We're about to find out.
Price certainly looked physically sharp last night.
The poor clearing attempts might just be the result of a mentally tired goalie, not that he hasn't been known in the past for that exact type of mistake.
One bad clearance in the playoffs can lead to an easy and demoralizing goal that a team as offensively challenged as the Habs might have trouble bouncing back from.
At least the Canadiens haven't backed into the playoffs like they did last year.
Montreal have the luxury of being able to rest a few players, maybe even Carey Price, before the second season gets started.
With two games left, Montreal is destined to face either Boston, Washington or Philadelphia in the first round.