Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Coach's Conviction

Guy Carbonneau has decided that Carey Price, despite a sub-par effort on Monday night, will start in net for the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday when they go on the road to face the Phoenix Coyotes. Price's previous start did not go so well as he allowed 6 goals on 39 shots against the San Jose Sharks. His teammates gave him a good amount of offensive support with two goals from Tomas Plekanec, Ryan O'Byrne scoring the first of his career and Maxim Lapierre making it a one goal game only 4:18 into the third period. Unfortunately, Price just couldn't hold the fort and allowed the newly acquired Brian Campbell to stretch the lead to two with a magnificent Savardian spin-o-rama move on the powerplay with just over a minute and a half left to play.

Montreal was never out of the game and was able to tie the game three seperate times, but Carey Price just couldn't make the timely stops needed to get his team over the hump. Goaltending, as I mentioned in a previous post, is primarily about making the "right" stops. The ones your team needs to preserve momentum, the ones you have to stop to keep your team alive. You often hear players mention goalies "giving them a chance to win" and that is, in many ways, what they are expected to do night in and night out. Now, 6 goals on 39 shots is not a great night but Price at least kept his team in the running but Evgeni Nabokov was just better stopping 27 out of the 31 shots his faced.

Of course, hockey fans, and sports fans in general, tend to have short memories and quickly forget a player's contributions when faced with their struggles. Price's previous game before San Jose was against the New Jersey Devils, a team Montreal is competing with for the top seed, and Price was nothing short of brilliant stopping all but 1 of the 32 shots he faced. Montreal was outshot 32 to 25 in that game, but Price out-dueled the great Martin Brodeur for the victory. With Montreal in an absolute war for the top spot in the East with New Jersey and Pittsburgh, Canadiens fans are hoping Price can replicate that success and just forget about a rather, well, forgettable performance in San Jose.

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