by PuckStopsHere on 03/31/09 at 02:52 AM ET
The Montreal Canadiens have been very lucky to have some very good goaltending over the years. Two times a rookie goalie has taken over the team and led them to the Stanley Cup and won a Conn Smythe Trophy. Ken Dryden did it in 1971 and Patrick Roy in 1986. Those are unique cases made possible in part by the fact those goalies are both among the ten best goalies ever.
When Carey Price joined the Habs as a very talented young goalie, there was some pressure for history to repeat itself. This pressure mounted as Montreal traded away previous number one goalie Cristobal Huet to the Washington Capitals, thus leaving Price the number one job in goal. Some expected that Carey Price would now lead Montreal to the Stanley Cup and win the Conn Smythe in his rookie season. Those are very heavy expectations for anyone.
Montreal failed to win the 2008 Stanley Cup. They lost in the second round to the Philadelphia Flyers and part of the reason for their loss was goaltending.
Montreal went into the 2008/09 season hoping to have a great year in honor of their 100th season. That put a lot of pressure on young Carey Price. This is pressure that he hasn’t lived up to. So far this season price sports a .904 saves percentage and a 2.81 GAA. These are not the numbers of a superstar season. While there are several reasons that Montreal has not done as well this year as they hoped, goaltending is one of them.
This is not to say that Carey Price is a dud. He is a very young goalie who has a very good chance to mature into a star. He isn’t a star goalie yet. He has been around the NHL long enough that opposing teams have had time to scout him and have found weaknesses in his game. How he adjusts to this is what will determine if he becomes a star. If he can overcome these initial problems and become a better goalie, he will likely become a star.
The Montreal Canadiens put a lot of pressure on Carey Price in hoping that he would repeat the Ken Dryden/ Patrick Roy script of a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy as rookies. Those goalies succeeded because they are phenomenal talents. They are both among the top ten goalies in the history of hockey. It seems clear that Carey Price is not among that group. He could still be a very good goalie, but he isn’t yet. That is one reason that Montreal is not a solid Stanley Cup contender this year.
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