Overwhelming Evidence In Favour of Carey Price

By JD Lagrange – Each and every time Carey Price talks to the media, or if he is seen publicly somewhere, the debate as to where he ranks amongst the greats and if his jersey should be retired or not starts over again. For a guy who is so reserved, calm and who keeps to himself, he sure draws major attention to himself, not by his own doing.

Like most, I’m tired of the debate, but mostly of the disrespect and borderline hater displayed towards the best player the Canadiens have had in the past 15 years! So I thought, why not take the time to put this one to bed once and for all, and go into it extensively enough to use it as a research piece to use as evidence in the future?

You want to know where Carey Price ranks amongst the Canadiens’ best goaltenders of all times? Read this. Remember that an opinion without knowledge is not an opinion. It is imagination.

The Numbers

PLANTEDRYDENROYPRICE
REGULAR SEASON
GP556397551712
W314258289361
L13347175261
T (OTL)107746679
GAA2.222.242.782.51
Sv%.920.922.904.917
SO58462949
PLAYOFFS
GP9011211492
W59807043
L28324245
GAA2.112.412.462.39
Sv%.922.915.913.919
SO101058
Stanley Cups6620

So statistically, Carey Price ranks:

  • 1st in regular season’s games played
  • 1st in regular season’s wins
  • 3rd in regular season’s goals against average
  • 3rd in regular season’s saves percentage
  • 2nd in shutouts
  • 2nd in playoffs’ goals against average
  • 2nd in playoffs’ saves percentage
  • 3rd in playoffs’ shutouts

He has also surpassed Patrick Roy in every category except… the Stanley Cup wins. Yes, yes I know, that’s the ultimate goal. But my 55+ years on this earth have taught me that a Stanley Cup win is a TEAM accomplishment, that each player has to do their part to win and clearly, Price has done that.

No Stanley Cup

So let’s tackle that “no Cup” argument. First, let’s look at how many teams there were in the NHL on average during their stay with the Canadiens.

NAMESEASONS# OF FULL SEASONS# OF TEAMS AVGCAP YRS
PLANTE53-54 to 62-631060
DRYDEN71-72 to 1978-79716.90
ROY85-86 to 94-951021.70
PRICE07-08 to 21-221530.415
  • Back in the old days, there were much fewer teams so the odds of winning the prestigious trophy were much higher than they are today, with 32 teams.
  • If you go way back, the draft rules were different back then.
  • The implementation of a hard salary cap has all but killed the dynasty era. Teams are forced to unload players that they would have kept prior to the cap era, making it more difficult to keep teams together for an extended period of time.

Longevity

It has often been said that the toughest jobs in pro sports are either being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys or the starting goaltender of the Montreal Canadiens. In Montreal, no one has ever held that stressful position longer than Carey Price. None of the other great goaltenders in Canadiens’ history has “survived” the pressure at such a high level for that long before. What Price has done is ridiculously difficult and he has shone through it all.

That alone, is worth something. That in itself is a huge edge that Carey Price has over his counterparts. Ken Dryden retired after seven years! The longevity alone should be a huge consideration, and should bring more respect that it currently does to the man behind the mask.

Goals’ support

Without looking at stats, we know that the Canadiens have been lacking star power up front for many, many years. But a few people pulled out some statistics showing the type of offensive support (or lack of thereof) Price has “benefited from” during his career. The numbers simply support the theory.

Record without Price

Sometimes, the best way to gauge the impact a player has on his team is to look at what they do without him. This is not the first time that Price is sidelined long term and each time, the Canadiens did not fair well.

  • In the 2014 NHL Playoffs, we all remember when New York Rangers’ forward Chris Kreider slid into Price in game one, who then missed the rest of the series with a knee injury. As a result, the Rangers eliminated the Canadiens in six games. Price was 8-4 with a 2.36 GAA and .919 Sv% at the time.
  • Back in 2015, Price only played 12 games early in the season before being shut down for the year. He was coming off his season when he won every NHL Awards available… After his injury that season, the team sunk deep with a record of 21-34-4, worst in the NHL during that time span.
  • Last season, prior to Price returning, the Canadiens had a 20-43-11 record.

Those two regular seasons put together, that’s a combined record of 41-77-15, a dismal .328 points percentage!

Awards

Price 2015 Awards

So we’ve established that Price hasn’t won a Stanley Cup, a team accomplishment. Based on the individual awards that he has received over his career, one would think that he should at least get some consideration. Look at this report card:

  • Molson Cup for 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019
  • NHL All-Star Game for 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019
  • NHL All-Rookie Team
  • NHL YoungStars Game at NHL All-Star Game
  • William M. Jennings Trophy
  • Vezina Trophy (best goaltender)
  • Ted Lindsay Award (most valuable player, voted by NHL Players Association)
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player, voted by Professional Hockey Writer’s Association)
  • NHL First All-Star Team (voted by Professional Hockey Writer’s Association)
  • Lou Marsh Trophy (Canada’s Top Athlete voted by a panel of journalists)
  • Lionel Conacher Award (selected by sports writers of the Canadian Press)

While it is not in the NHL, he still accomplished the following representing the Montreal Canadiens:

  • Olympic gold medal in Men’s Hockey at 2014 Sochi Olympics
  • Best Goaltender at 2014 Sochi Olympics (voted by IIHF)

Brendan Gallagher’s take

Asked about Carey Price and if he feels like his jersey should be retired or not, long-time teammate Brendan Gallagher has no hesitation.

Carey Price and Marc Bergevin

“To me, there’s no doubt when you talk about the impact that he’s had, you talk about the success that he’s had. When you came to the game, people came to watch Carey Price play. That’s not something usual. People want to see goals, people want to see excitement, but he was flashy and exciting and, at the same time, calm and poised. He’s done everything to deserve it.”

“Obviously, it would have been nice to have won a Stanley Cup and then, there wouldn’t be an argument. He got us there. It’s hard to say, but it would be fair to say he would have gotten us there another time if he hadn’t been hurt (2014 playoffs). He just did so much throughout his career. I think you look at the names and the jerseys up there… I understand the Cups… people came specifically to see those players. Pricey was that guy people came to see.”

This is coming from a guy in the dressing room, folks. This is someone who has seen from up close the impact Price has had over his team, and has experienced his leadership from within. Oh I fully expect some people to see this as bias instead of for what it is… because it suits their narrative. But others have echoed Gallagher in the past, and more will do in the future.

“If there is one thing I want to be remembered as is being a hard worker and a good guy” ~ Carey Price (October 24, 2022)

Ranking

So where does that put him on the Canadiens’ all-time list? Definitely in the top-4. But I would place him right up there with Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden. At worse, I would put him third as I have no doubt that if you switched Price and Roy – and the teams in front of them – Carey would have at least two Stanley Cups and Patrick would be the one without one in Montreal.

So you want to hold over his head the fact that Price didn’t win the Stanley Cup? Considering his stats, the lack of offensive support he’s been getting, the draft rules and the salary cap, any human being with any common sense will recognize the challenges on Price. It looks bad on you, not on the player, if you’re using that argument against him.

Don’t ever, ever forget… For the Montreal Canadiens and their fans, Carey paid the ultimate… Price: his health and career.

More reading…

When The Math Doesn’t Add Up

By JD Lagrange – If there’s one thing that this rookie tournament is doing, it’s opening the eyes of Habs’ fans everywhere about how effective the reset started in 2018 is starting to be. You see, it takes time for young players to develop and only a few of them can have an immediate impact. Of course, the continued work by current management, following in the footsteps of Marc Bergevin and his group, has added to that prospect pool.

There is another potential issue it’s raising as well. As it currently stands, the Montreal Canadiens have little to no room on their roster to allow for these young players, particularly at forward, to remotely hope making the team. The same cannot be said on defense where, as we’re speaking, there are three spots available for these young men. Even in net, there will be a battle between two young goalies to be Jake Allen’s backup. But let’s look at the breakdown.

Forwards

Give or take, there are about 20 forwards who have a legitimate claim at being of NHL caliber. Some definitely are, others are ready to prove that they belong. The issue is that too many are on NHL contracts, some with substantial contracts. Saying that Kent Hughes must move some forwards would be stating the obvious, but something has got to give.

Juraj Slafkovsky, Jesse Ylönen, Emil Heineman, and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard all seem to be ready to prove that they belong. Unfortunately for them, they have 16 other forwards “ahead” of them. When you consider that teams usually carry 13, sometimes 14 forwards on their club, it leaves zero room for them. And when you’re talking young guys, you’re also talking cheap cap hit and players motivated to earn and keep their spot in the line-up…

NAMEPOSSHOOTSAGEHTWT
Nick SuzukiCR235’11”205
Sean MonahanCL276’2″200
Christian DvorakCL266’1″200
Kirby DachCR216’4″197
Jake EvansCR266’0″176
Jan MysakCL206’0″182
Brendan GallagherWR305’9″184
Josh AndersonWR286’3″227
Jonathan DrouinWL276’0″203
Evgenii DadonovWL335’11”185
Mike HoffmanWL326’0″184
Joel ArmiaWR296’3″218
Paul ByronWL335’9″158
Rem PitlickWL255’11”196
Juraj SlafkovskyWL186’3″238
Cole CaufieldWR215’7″166
Michael PezzettaWL246’1″216
Jesse YlönenWR226’0″167
Emil HeinemanWL206’1″185
Rafaël Harvey-PinardWL235’9″182

Defensemen

As mentioned, the situation is slightly different on defense. Four players are guaranteed their spot: Joel Edmundson, Mike Matheson, David Savard and Chris Wideman. In total, there are about 14 players who are either NHL-caliber or close to being NHL-ready. Once again, teams usually keep seven, sometimes eight defensemen on the team.

Due to the lack of right-handed defensemen, Justin Barron starts with an advantage. But he’s only 20 years old and he may (or not) benefit from some development time in Laval. Corey Schueneman did well when called upon last year and many felt like he could replace departing Brent Kulak.

Then, you have a group of quality young players in a bunch: Jordan Harris, Kaiden Guhle, Mattias Norlinder and Arber Xhekaj all have a legitimate shot at making the big club. Young veterans Otto Leskinen, who is returning to North America, and Madison Bowey will ensure to make the Canadiens’ decision difficult. It is important to note that this list doesn’t include quality young prospects That list doesn’t include Logan Mailloux, Lane Hutson, Jayden Struble and Peter Nurmi.

NAMESHOOTSAGEHTWT
Joel EdmundsonL296’5″224
Mike MathesonL286’2″188
David SavardR316’1″234
Chris WidemanR325’10”180
Corey SchuenemanL276’0″196
Justin BarronR206’2″195
Jordan HarrisL225’11”179
Kaiden GuhleL206’2″199
Mattias NorlinderL226’0″185
Otto LeskinenL255’11”187
Arber XhekajL216’4″238
Madison BoweyR266’2″202
Gianni FairbrotherL215’11”202
William TrudeauL196’0″190

Goaltenders

Right now, the Canadiens have three goaltenders who can be considered of NHL caliber. It’s not saying that the team lacks depth, but the others simply aren’t ready yet. With the news that Carey Price is likely out for the season, Jake Allen becomes the number one by default. Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau both signed one-way deals and will be battling for the backup position.

Montembeault seems to have the edge simply due to the fact that he must clear waivers, but don’t count Primeau out just yet. In fact, the Canadiens have a couple of options for him but in either case, he must play.

NAMEAGEHTWT
Jake Allen326’2″190
Sam Montembeault256’3″199
Cayden Primeau236’3″203

So as you can see, training camp should be more competitive than ever and decisions will have to be made. The most pressing issue, however, remains at the forward position and the coaching staff needs help from their General Manager to create at least some room up front. Hughes has done pretty well so far, but he still have work to do before the season begins.

More reading…