Just like the Terminator, the Poltergeist and the Empire, Carey Price is back.
The Habs’ netminder, best chance and future Olympian was in peak form over the last half of Montreal’s cross-Canada western road trip stopping 75 out of 76 shots in Vancouver and Winnipeg; good for two wins and a shutout, the first of the season and 20th of Price’s career.
Price now sits at a very good looking (but still early) 1.81 GAA and .944 save percentage.
It wasn’t just the number of saves Price made on the trip, but the quality. Price stole the game against the Canucks – a contest where the Habs could have easily been down two or three after the first period, instead of up one – with highlight reel efforts.
It was recognition from the Hockey Gods that willed the puck off of Dan Hamhuis’s stick, into Luongo’s skates and into the Vancouver goal on Saturday night.
Carey Price was going to win that game.
Then he stymied an already frustrated Jets team, never letting them back into the game after the Habs got up early.
Price looks quicker, sharper and seems to be in the right place a lot more often than in seasons past.
As Price goes so go the Habs, and if this is a sign of things to come, the Habs are going far.
A lot of that credit needs to go to new goalie coach Stephan Waite who was lured to Montreal from Chicago this off season. Waite has Price playing a much tighter game, practicing an economy of movement that doesn’t see Price outside of his crease as often as Habs fans have come to (anxiously) expect.
Price’s steady play is anchored, if not amplified, by the group in front of him with defensemen doing an excellent job of clearing rebounds and blocking shots.
Factor in an 84% penalty kill, 26.9 per cent power play and a positive 2:1 ratio of goals scored five-on-five and Montreal is off to exactly to the kind of start fans were hoping for. And exactly the one they’ll need to stay competitive in hockey’s toughest division.
Price is the likely starter as the Montreal Canadiens host the Columbus Blue Jackets (2-3-0) tonight at the Bell Centre. Puck drop is at 7:30.
Go Habs Go!