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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

5 Keys to Habs' Season - Part 5 - Carey Price

This is part 5 of 5 in this series, and I just want to thank everyone for the feedback and emails! The support and feedback, whether negative or positive, is always appreciated!

So without further ado....

Carey Price
When Carey Price was drafted, 5th overall, in the 2005 NHL entry draft, a lot of people were unsure as to why the Habs grabbed this kid. As good as he was supposed to be, Montreal had Hart and Vezina trophy winning Jose Theodore in nets, and there didn't seem to be any good or convincing reason to draft a goalie. That year, however, Jose showed everyone his true colours, and that was those of a one hit wonder. In that light, the Price pick started to look better and better.

Theodore or not, Price started to show that he was a thorough bred, almost immediately. While cut from the Canadian World Junior team in 2006 - with whispers of him having a bad work ethic - he adjusted his play and attitude and came back to steal the show in 2007 by being named tournament MVP and backstopping Canada to their third straight gold medal. From that point on, Price's rise was meteoric.

From the World Junior Championships, Carey returned to his junior team, the Tri-City Americans. After their season was over, Price immediately joined Montreal's AHL affiliate - the Hamiltion Bulldogs - where he led them to a Calder Cup victory, in the playoffs, and earned himself another MVP award.

There was no question, that Carey Price, the prospect, had arrived.

During the Habs 2007-2008 training camp, Price seemed like a bit of an outside shot at making the team. He seemed good during camp and, more importantly, Gainey seemed intent on seeing him in NHL action. As such, he stayed with the big club as Cristobal Huet's backup. However, by the mid-point of the season, it was clear that he was in the process of pushing Huet out of his job.

When Huet was traded at the deadline, none were too sure if it was the right time or if they should have waited until the summer, before crowning Carey as the starter, in Montreal. But, sure or not, he got the job. After an up and down 1st round series, against Boston, Price, and the Habs, ultimately fell to the Flyers and sailed into the off-season with high hopes for the 2008-2009 season.

Well, without rehashing it all, we all know how disasterous the 2008-2009 NHL season turned out to be for Montreal and for Carey Price. After a great first half of the season, Carey managed only 7 wins through the back nine. His, and the teams collapse, can be summed up when the crowd mocking Price's routine save with applause - during their 1st round sweep by the Bruins - where Price responded with a Patrick Royesque salute to the crowd. Ouch. What a bad, sad, depressing ending to a season that crashed and burned more dramatically than the Hindenburg!

Fast forward to now, September 2009, and the 2009-2010 NHL training camp. Price is saying all the right things and seems to have a much better more grounded attitude. He knows that last year was a disaster, but he also knows that, at 22, he has likely learned some very hard lessons very early. This experience should only help him that much more in the future.

Why he should succeed
Price has shown, to this point in his career, a tremendous ability to bounce back from adversity. When he was cut from the 2006 World Junior Team, people were saying that he had the skills but lacked the work ethic. Well, he came back, in 2007, with an adjusted attitude and work ethic, and stole the show.

During the 2008-2009 NHL season, I believe that Price fell victim to the same mistakes, from his past. Not only was he enjoying life off of the ice a little too much, but he wasn't putting in the time and effort he needed, on it. That, in my opinion, is a recipe for disaster.

While there are a ton of things that have to go right, this year, for Monteal to have successful season, Carey Price is right at the center of it all. He is the key cog in the Habs wheel and as such, this team will only go as far as, or do as well as Carey Price does.

In order for Montreal to have a successful season, Carey has to put up at least 30 wins and play a minimum of 60 games, this season. With Jacques Martin at the helm of a defense first team, and a bulked up, more stable blue line corp in front of him, I believe that Price should have no problem hitting those numbers. The ancillary effect of Prices success will be the redundancy of Jaroslav Halak, who, I believe, will not finish the year in Montreal.

If, however, Price cannot get into a groove this year, and he continues to skid all season long, I believe that will spend the end of the Bob Gainey era in Montreal.

Let's hope that Price thrives and Gainey lives to fight another day. If they do, this is gonna be a fun year to be a Habs fan!

Oh, one last note, on Carey. He has a tell, in the poker sense if the word. The more you see him playing the puck, the better it is for the Habs because he tends to do so when he is on his game and feeling confident. When he is off his game, he tends to retreat to the saftey of his net.

Enjoy the season all!

K.

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